• Digital Billboards Change Fast with Tornado Updates

    Tornado season highlights the expanding partnerships between emergency messengers and digital billboards.

    Insider takes you inside the fast-moving preparations for recent severe weather in Oklahoma, to explain the speed and sophistication of these partnerships.

    5:58 pm Saturday (May 18): authorities sent a group text to activate digital billboards on Sunday. The text called for “creative #2.”

    This group includes Oklahoma’s Department of Emergency Management, the Norman Weather Center, and Lamar Advertising. These partners have prepared – in advance – dozens of weather-alert templates for digital billboards. Creative #2 looks like this:

    Rick Smith is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at National Weather Service, Norman, OK.

    12:26 pm Sunday (May 19): the activation request changed to creative #28, along with a quick thank you and this advice: “Make sure your family is safe tomorrow; that goes for all on this group.”

    Creative #28 looks like this:

    Jason Reince at Lamar says creative #28 was quickly modified at the request of Oklahoma’s emergency agency. Here is the email to Jason at Lamar:

    Within minutes of copy approval, this message was posted on 25 digital billboards in the Oklahoma City market.

    Historical perspective:  billboard operators in Florida were pioneers in emergency messaging, more than a decade ago. Current examples of weather alerts on digital billboards in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee prove the point made in this trailblazing case study posted on FEMA’s website:

    “Digital technology enables quick delivery of emergency messages via high-tech billboards. Public-private partnerships harness these high-tech signs to inform the public about weather warnings, evacuation routes, and safety-related information. Partners in this case study are the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) and the Florida Outdoor Advertising Association (FOAA).”  




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