Digital signage has proven to be fast, flexible, and overall very fitting for real-time communication. In K-12 schools, it has a variety of uses including displaying menus in the cafeteria, showing announcements and event listings in common areas and for directories and wayfinding in lobbies.
Digital signage can also be used to keep students safe. Below are 7 ways to improve safety in schools using digital signage:
1. Display CAP alerts from local and national sources
One of the biggest advantages of digital signage is how it can integrate with other systems, including the nation-wide Common Alerting Protocol (CAP).CAP alerts are overseen by the federal government and are deployed to certain devices during times of emergency, usually for natural disasters, dangerous weather, missing children (AMBER alerts), or national security threats.
Digital signage is arguably one of the most effective ways a school can really take advantage of these emergency protocols. CAP alerts automatically override content playing on all digital signage to display more info about the emergency. This mass display of alerts, in addition to the same alerts via text and/or email, ensure that the message is received.
2. Showing custom emergency alerts
CAP alerts are great, but what happens when schools have issues closer to home?
When local problems pop up, schools still need a way to communicate that to students and parents. Weather issues that may impact school hours are a great example. If a snowstorm is forecasted to hit your town in the coming days, you can program your digital signage (interior and exterior!) to display warnings about possible cancellations.
This applies to internal school issues as much as weather. When problems pop up in the school itself (think roof leaks, electrical issues, or scheduled maintenance),administrators can easily program alerts that inform students of these issues and suggest alternative routes. This is a great way to build out your school’s internal messaging system.
3. Show How-to videos and exit maps
Your school already has its fire exits marked and your tornado shelter lined out, but how many students could list them off the top of their heads? Heck, how many of your teachers could?
It’s easy to forget critical safety information when we only hear it every few months, but the great thing about digital signage is that it provides an always-on visual element that keeps these details front-and-center of your students’ minds.
Program your signage to display maps of your school’s fire exits, tornado shelter areas, flood areas, and emergency escape routes for other crises (such as active shooters or gas leaks).
You can set these maps to appear on a schedule every day, or to appear only when you active specific triggers, such as a pulled fire alarm. However you do it, it’s a great way to boost the visibility of your school’s emergency response protocols.
4. Multimedia outreach
It’s important to point out one key distinction of digital signage communication: it’s a multimedia outreach method. Rather than simply blaring an alarm or flashing a flood light, digital signage can provide in-depth images, video, and maps to reach students of all kinds. This includes students with special needs or disabilities.
By bringing a visual component into your emergency messaging, you can provide safety details with basic icons and images that don’t require students to read extensive text or even hear an alarm. Every safety tip they need to know can be delivered visually. And while your school certainly has processes in place to protect your more vulnerable student populations, there’s just no telling what can happen when crises occur—andthe more information your students have, the safer they’ll be.
5. Teacher-specific safety tips
Install a few digital screens in your backend offices and teacher’s lounges, and you’ve added a completely new way to improve school safety. There’s some safety information that may be more pertinent to your staff than your actual students:
First aid information and best practices
Location of EpiPen, inhalers, or medications for students who have forgotten them at home
CPR guides, or tips on how to perform the Heimlich maneuver
Contact numbers for local authorities, police, or hospitals
Think of your digital signage costs as an investment in ongoing education for your staff as well as your students. It’s easy to forget these types of life-saving details, even for teachers with years of experience. Keep the information close at hand, and it’ll be ready when it’s needed.
6. Security personnel spotlights
It’s common for high schools (and even elementary schools, sadly) to have security guards these days. Security personnel can be intimidating to students, particularly younger students or those who have had bad experiences with police at home. Nevertheless, security staff have an important job to do, so why not integrate them into your school via digital signage?
In yourdigital signage templates, consider shining a spotlight on these crucial staff by displaying their photo, a short bio, and some personal facts about them.
This helps students get acquainted with your security staff, and can give younger children a friendly face to turn to in times of emergency. Plus, it’s a great way to give your hard-working security teams some recognition for everything they do each day!
7. Nutrition tips for better health
Let’s look at safety from a different angle—the safety that comes from staying in good health. And as you might have guessed by now, digital signage is a great way to support this goal.
You’ll likely have digital signage installed in your lunchrooms or cafeterias where students congregate. Consider including nutrition details on these screens:
Amount of calories, fat, protein, and sugar in different lunch items
Descriptions of how many servings of vegetables, grains, or meats each entrée accounts for
Recommendations for choosing one option over another (e.g., choosing milk over soda)
Visual aids that help make your case; for example, showing how many handfuls of sugar there are in a regular bottle of Coke that a student might drink
Now, we know what you’re thinking. There’s NO way student will care about this; they’ll just get what they want. And for the most part, that’s probably true. But don’t underestimate your students either, particularly high school students who are just beginning to take responsibility for themselves. You might be surprised at how amenable they are to this information, and withchildhood and teen obesity rates skyrocketing, it’s up to educators to do everything they can to equip their students with good habits.
Digital Signage as a Security Solution
Hopefully, we’ve outlined a few good ways you can put your digital signage to work for your school’s safety. If you haven’t made the investment yet, it might be time to start thinking about it. Digital signage can radically improve your school’s communication capabilities, in security, and in other areas. (Great selling points for parent outreach and upping enrollment rates!) Take a look at your school’s layout and decide whether you’d benefit from a more sophisticated form of communication.
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