The subscription content firm Screenfeed is launching a new automated alert product that will automatically interrupt regularly-scheduled screen content to make viewers aware of impending emergencies, as they develop.
The system can be configured to make, for example, screens in a public school system flash alerts when a tornado threat comes up. It can be set for anything from an imminent threat or warning, to less severe watches and advisories.
“You could think of it as a sort of insurance for your content strategy and network success – knowing critical information will be instantly displayed for your audience when their safety is on the line offers peace of mind, while adding value in the eyes of your network stakeholders,” explains Screenfeed Business Development VP, Steve Glancey. “It’s the kind of feature we hope isn’t needed often, but we know customers will be glad it’s there.”
Manually triggered alerts for signage systems have been around for many years, but Minneapolis-based Screenfeed says the difference here is the automation. This will sniff data feeds from sources like the U.S. National Weather Service, and trigger content based on pre-set parameters.
Alerts ensure that audiences in the care of a network are never out of the loop from critical, in-the-moment information. Of course, different alerts are more (or less) relevant depending on a venue’s location or type. That’s why Screenfeed built Alerts to allow customers to choose from a list of alert types to create a solution tailored to their audience and venue’s safety.
Customers can subscribe to Screenfeed Alerts the same as other Screenfeed content, and then add it to their playlist. Screenfeed Alerts allows customers to choose from three carefully-crafted themes, available as static graphics or fully-animated html.
In addition to themes, alerts can be configured to show elements like radar, and full-length alert text—a small, but powerful feature that empowers customers to display the optimal amount of information based on audience dwell times and viewing distances.
“Networks have invested a great deal of resources into engaging and benefiting the customers, employees, patients and students who comprise their audience. They owe it to them, and we feel we owe it to the industry, to keep them safe,” adds Glancey.
Any network looking to keep their audience safe, increase the value of their screens to their audience or simply be part of an emergency response system should consider adding Screenfeed Alerts to their network immediately. Similarly, software providers looking to add emergency alerting system-wide as a default feature should also contact Screenfeed to partner.
Screenfeed has already done integrations with the CMS firms Broadsign, Four Winds Interactive, ComQi and Navori, and it also work’s with player manufacturer Brightsign’s BrightAuthor software and ecosystem. There is an open call for other software vendors to optimize integration methods
The alerts currently cover the US and Canada. The service is officially launched Tuesday.
As mentioned earlier, there have been alerts systems, protocols and products on the market for some time. There is something called the Common Alerting Protocol, and even a non-profit – the Federation for Internet Alerts – that exists to encourage and enable safety alerts. Screenfeed makes the argument that its new product is the first “software-agnostic” system, automatically triggering localized alerts, instead of relying on a manual push from a system.
Glancey did a quick demo for me. The announcement doesn’t go much into the design and ease of use aspects of the product. There are other ways, certainly, to do alert messaging. But as with other Screenfeed content products, a LOT of thought and creative talent went into how this looks, as well as how to make it dead-simple for end-users to set up and activate.
What I saw was highly tweakable and cleverly-makes good use of what HTML5 brings to dynamic content.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.