As I write this, the world continues to largely hold its breath. While small steps toward a revised sense of normality progress, the uncertainty and impact surrounding Covid-19 continues to be felt, with previously unimaginable effects on health and wellbeing, both for individuals, families and communities, as well as for businesses.
For the AV industry, it goes without saying that the impact of Covid-19 and the ensuing lockdown has been tough, with few if any areas, whether corporate, retail, education, events, hospitality or any other, unimpacted. Indeed, a new report from AVIXA shows that the Americas pro AV market alone is set to fall by eight per cent this year to $86 billion.
While the first positive shoots of recovery are being seen in some countries/regions, and as lockdowns are gradually relaxed, the impact is likely to be felt for some time to come. With social distancing and people safety – whether that’s staff, customers, students – likely to become the norm for many moving forward.
It’s important we all embrace what is heavily being described as this ‘new normal’. The need for technology for many industries is quickly moving from a ‘would like to have’ to a ‘must have’ as they are forced to adapt. These forced changes represent significant new opportunities for the AV industry to step up and make a difference.
As a manufacturer, we believe it’s our duty to support our system integrators and installation partners through this. Together, we represent a passionate AV community, and we sustain a great deal of employment that must be safeguarded. As a result, we’ve kept our full teams in place to provide continuity for our people and partners and every one of our current operations has a single objective at its core: helping our partners and the industry to reboot business.
The solutions we can all deliver now – whether as manufacturers, integrators, architects or consultants – can help to bring businesses back more quickly and confidently, building up communities and economies for the future.
It’s therefore also important – if not critical – that as an industry we remain proactive in building our skillsets, enhancing knowledge and awareness in order to confidently approach and provide customers with the tools they need to get back to some level of normality.
Bringing ghost towns back to life
What might this look like? We believe digital signage will play an intrinsic role in maintaining social distancing in public settings and that it will become an increasingly used and accepted medium for communicating messaging and instruction.
One of the hardest-hit industries is retail – a space relying on a daily influx of customers – and we’re seeing, as I’m sure are others, significant interest and investment in preparation for reopening.
Here at Philips Professional Display Solutions, our teams have responded quickly to the current pandemic, building on our strong industry-wide partnerships to design and build a new people counting solution to help retailers better manage capacity, allowing for safer social distancing as well as providing improved communications for those waiting to enter if and when capacity is reached.
This, we believe, will become a norm for the high street and the experience for many customers moving forward.
Leading brands are already installing our solution, which includes smart people counting cameras linked, via our unique PeopleCount app, to our Android SoC displays to indicate when people can enter – even providing waiting times and helping remind customers of any safety rules and measures. Automatic doors can also be integrated into the solution, adding better security and freeing up the need of line management staff.
This, though, is not intended as an advert for Philips PDS. This is bigger than one manufacturer. It is, instead, about helping the AV industry truly understand the opportunities available to us, as a collective, to provide and create true transformational change for our high streets and, indeed, any public setting with a regular footfall.
In the absence of shows such as InfoComm, IFA, Digital Signage Expo among many others this year, it remains vital that we, as an industry, remain proactive, coming together to play a crucial role in helping pave the way for the future of the many different industries we serve and to ensure the safety of the public and the economy as we battle through these difficult times.
Franck Racape, Vice President, EMEA, Philips Professional Display Solutions