Installation Profile: Into the Tunnel
Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Dan Daley
It wasn't exactly working in a coal mine, but installing the complex digital signage in the connecting tunnel at JFK's new Terminal 8 was a logistical challenge.
Coordinating the integration of the digital signage's audio with that of the airport was a small sample of what was the project's single major synchronization effort: installing and integrating a major digital-signage project inside what is — post Sept. 11 — one of the most security-conscious spaces on Earth. The crew was limited to the areas that they could work in and where and how they could stage and store materials. They were also limited to working between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
“The terminal was already open and operating, which created some significant timing and staging logistical issues for us,” Mittler says. “For instance, the screens weigh over 200lbs. each, and there are 40 of them. Getting them in and positioned took time and coordination. Then there's the usual issues surrounding working in a public space and doing it completely overnight. And at all times, we were always escorted by and in the presence of TSA officers. That all had to be coordinated by the Port Authority [of New York and New Jersey] and JCDecaux. It was the single most complex thing about the installation.”
Given these limitations, testing prior to installation was absolutely necessary — both for proof-of-concept reasons and to anticipate any assembly and installation issues. The designers and integrators put up two banks of five screens each and emulated video. Later, they assembled the entire system in the office.
Ironically, DMG had initially been contacted by JCDecaux to be a consultant on the project. “They wanted us to help them figure out how to make the concept of the immersive digital-signage environment a reality,” says DMG President John Melillo. Ultimately, DMG designed, installed, and integrated the project, and the company continues to monitor and maintain it going forward.
“We kind of got wrapped up in it,” Mittler says. “Digital signage on this scale is exciting to work with.”
Airports and Digital Signage Change with the Times
Washington, D.C.'s Dulles International Airport is typical of major U.S. airports at a time when more commercial flying is taking place than ever before. “A work in progress” is how Rob Keelor, vice president at International Display Systems (IDS), describes it. The Dayton, Ohio-based company literally maintains a crew at Dulles to handle the extension of the digital signage there as the airport continues to expand.
The new west terminal security checkpoint at Dulles airport is a good example. IDS installed 21 Daktronics MegaVision LED signs that provide wayfinding/directional information, but they can also be modified to display shuttle transportation information, flight information, or whatever is required. “At any given time, the passenger traffic ebbs and flows, so the airport wanted the signage to be able to react to that — such as when a bank of incoming or outgoing flights is processed,” Keelor says.
Likewise, in the expanding International Arrivals building at Dulles, the immigration hall has large and very bright LED displays that provide information regarding immigration, customs, and baggage to arriving passengers. “Airports are using more and more natural light from larger windows and glassed atriums, so the signage has to be brighter as a result,” Keelor says. Seven 2'×8' Daktronics AE-3010-48×256-7.6-RG-S LEDs are driven by a web-based GUI and can provide instructions in multiple languages for the immigration signage. The agent at the head of each immigration lane triggers 48 smaller Daktronics AE-3010-16×64-7.6-RG-AF LED screens via a keypad to keep the lines flowing.
At the six new baggage claim locations, IDS installed two clusters of four NEC LCD4620-AV series LCD displays — a combination of 40in. and 46in. — in double-sided arrays hung from the ceiling, fed by Cat-6 cabling. Each cluster has its own set of Tannoy CMS401 in-ceiling directional loudspeakers that provide an audio version of the message on the screens. While the loudspeakers are in-ceiling, the Nigel B Design amplifiers and power supplies and Extron MTP T AV receivers are mounted in plenum boxes above the ceiling and wired via Cat-6 cabling to multiple servers that hold the audio and signage data. Because the audio and signage systems are also intertwined with the airport's paging and life-safety messaging systems, there is an RDL ducking module that ducks the audio and video to allow airport information to override other content.
Throughout the terminal, the digital signage is expected to offer a range of information, from flight infomation to wayfinding to three-day weather forecasts and news tickers. IDS installed Omnivex Data Management and Omnivex Control 4 digital-signage software to help manage the variable content, the devices, and the data.
“We put the first digital signage into Dulles 19 years ago, and it's been in a state of perpetual growth ever since,” Keelor says. “The important thing to keep in mind about digital signage in airports is that it will have to be as dynamic as the airport itself is.”
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