16th October 2017

Smart City Opportunities for the Outdoor Advertising Association of America

New models of engagement, new platforms for connectivity are accelerating around the globe.

Today, cities that understand how to leverage this connectivity are at the forefront of smart city development and because few cities have actually grown into truly ‘smart cities’, the opportunities for the out of home industry are expanding.

Helping cities compete, connect and collaborate in totally new ways will be essential in creating attractive places to live, work and play.

Smart cities and digital out of home are a part of the same technology and business ecosystem. In fact digital signage can shape the foundation for a stronger city infrastructure design.  

Here’s how:  

  • Support of local business through advertising and promotion, increased tourism, attracting new businesses to a community, fostering new job creation–all will create a healthier economy.  
  • Expanded city information, guides to points of interest and city attractions, news of city events and programs, public safety information and digital access for all will create a more efficient city operation and a richer experience for residents.
  • Improved use of city data and analytics, integration of IoT devices, fast access to Wi-Fi, emergency calling and notification services, use cameras and sensors to monitor and measure the environment will create an advance infrastructure
  • Transit schedules, wayfinding and traffic flow monitoring will improve transportation across the city and improve urban mobility for people, goods and services.

Importantly, these enhancements translate into specific needs and expectations:  

Reduced traffic congestion, faster access to parking, improved commuter travel options, reduced crime and improved emergency services, improved utility services—water, electricity, waste management, reduced pollution and improved environmental sustainability, improved access to social services, faster access to city services, a more vibrant city life, defined by a strong business environment, plentiful parks and public spaces, festivals and events—all creating a new identity for the community to make it an attractive, fun place to be.  

Meeting these expectations shapes the citizen experience. People are inspired, informed and connected in new ways to their city and to each other.

So, as cities grow in size and density, as communications needs and expectations evolve, two significant trends are emerging.

First, the need for interaction, across the region, with every stakeholder:

  • Enabling two-way communications from the city to its people and back—enabling residents and visitors to communicate, to vote, to share their opinions.   
  • Finding the “ground truth” in a community by uncovering the real needs of the entire population including underserved and disadvantaged communities.
  • Creating digital communications and connectivity to all mobile devices—creating a seamless mobility experience.
  • Fostering business development—enabling retail sales and purchases, for local and national businesses that are actionable and measurable.

Second, the need to shape the community identity:

  • Planning and designing the image of a city to ensure that it becomes an attractive, liveable city.  
  • Setting new standards for urban innovation—designing city policies that encourage business growth, tourism and inclusion.
  • Appreciating the value of clean, green, sustainable technology that beautifies a city space.

In support of the smart city trends, combined with the experience and expertise of the out of home industry, new opportunities are emerging. The best out of home solutions will complement the smart city as it shapes its urban landscape:

  1. New models of interactive engagement—communicating, connecting, protecting and inspiring
  2. Community awareness and participation—creating true interaction between a city and its people and improving communication about city events
  3. New revenue/cost savings models—through sponsorships, monetization of data, additional city services and city efficiencies
  4. Transit awareness and mobility options—real time schedules and wayfinding
  5. Reduced traffic congestion—moving cars off the roadways, improving public transit, smoothing the flow of goods and people across the city
  6. Privacy and unparalleled security—improved public safety, emergency alerts, notifications
  7. Improved city efficiencies—awareness of transit options, voting opportunities, job opportunities, social services, important messages from city/civic leaders
  8. Hyper-customized communications and participation—connecting cities to citizens
  9. New channels to spark business growth—direct to retailers, local businesses, tourist attractions
  10. Environmental/health sensors—to measure air quality, noise, traffic flow, etc.

In summary, the smart city opportunity for the out of home industry requires new collaborations. The process is one of holistic thinking and education:

Think big on behalf of the city—endeavor to help city leaders solve many, interdependent  problems. Understand their challenges to address economic growth, revenue generation, security, city operations and politics.

Align, collaborate and include—build coalitions within the city, find partners that understand the value of inclusion to help cities hear “all the voices.”

Help cities integrate their transformation into the digital world—be their champion to share new content, shape new messaging and create touch points that leverage every city asset.


These digital signage award winners are simply take-your-breath-away examples of the power of digital signage to connect, impact change and create a “wow” for every viewer.  

This kind of new technology and new engagement is at the cutting edge of interaction and community identity—savvy city leaders will understand and value.  

Look at me—Ocean Outdoor

An amazing demonstration of interaction with the viewer—The camera detects and recognizes “you.” The signage morphs and changes to send the message and ideally, impact action


All you need is love—Orange

Touching the heart without “selling” the product—Sometimes, the best way to sell the product is not to sell it. City leaders will appreciate this kind of creative messaging for their own communication to constituents.


Battersea Dogs and Cats—OlgilvyOne UK

Showcasing the use of RFID to engage the consumer—A great example of two-way interaction and customization. The perfect application to help retailers build an affinity with the buyer and ultimately win sales  



Written by Sandra Baer, http://civiqsmartscapes.com