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"Murphy was an optimist!"

I like digital billboards May 2, 2008 8:13 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Communications, Technology, Touchy Subjects, Transportation, Travel
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A good friend of mine and I disagree on this topic. There is a digital billboard at Lovell Road and I think it is far more attractive than the traditional billboards. That said, I think billboards in general are eye sores and blemishes to the landscape; however, they serve a purpose. Without billboards, the alphabet game would take forever! Without billboards, South of the Border would be just another Mexican restaurant. Without billboards, who would buy pecans at warehouses with plantation like facades?! If we aren’t going to make billboards disappear altogether, and I wish we would, let’s give them some utility.

I have a vision for billboards that is in conflict with my normal anti-big brother stance. My vision is right out of Minority Report. If all our billboards were digital, when an Amber Alert happened, every billboard could instantly change to be the same message showing the abductor’s picture, the child’s picture, and a description of the car. If you were driving down the interstate and saw such a message extending from horizon to horizon I think you would be much more aware of that car on the road. The abductor would certainly be moved!

Additionally, I think if cities approve digital billboards, that they should come with an easement that gives the city the right to scroll traffic alerts on the bottom or top of the billboard. We have expensive digital signs across our interstates that warn of traffic times, congestion, detours and so forth. But how many times have you passed the sign to ask your passengers, "Did you catch that?" With an easement on the digital billboards the same message could be presented for miles upon miles and the expense is already being made by the billboard company. I believe it is very win-win!

See also Knoxnews: Digital billboards get several endorsements and Knoxviews:Scenic Knoxville Needs Your Help to Stop Digital Billboards and Knoxvoice:Lights On.

Update: Digital billboards in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina push Amber Alerts but are so bright that they are blinding and damage night vision. Sounds like a road hazard to me but also sounds correctable through standards for brightness or perhaps color choices. Thanks Brettbum!

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