Digital Road Signs

In an era when everything is going digital, it should come as no surprise that traffic signs are also getting digital twins. However, what exactly does that mean for us? We'll show you what the possibilities are and how our software helps you in the process.

What is meant by digital traffic signs & How else are they called?

Digital road signs, also known as electronic traffic signs or variable message signs, are computer-controlled plates that provide real-time information to drivers. These signs are manufactured in a variety of sizes and shapes. They are most often installed outdoors.

Mechanical variable message signs with rotating prisms have been around for a while. Here, we will discuss digital signs that use LED technology instead of eggcrate, fiber optic, or flip-disc technology.

Digital traffic signs are a special application form of digital signs.

digital road signs

What kinds of digital road signs are available?

The most common type of modern digital road sign is probably the LED display. These displays are very energy efficient, durable, and the industry produces them in different sizes and designs. Another type of digital traffic sign is the LC display. They consume more energy, but are usually cheaper to purchase. LCDs also have the advantage of being available in a variety of sizes and styles.

As a rule, variable message signs, like all outdoor-screens, glow very intensely. They need to be viewable in low visibility conditions and from long distances. Some variable message signs are also combined with a speed camera.

What are the Advantages of Digital Road Signs?

Digital road signs are flexible and can be adapted to current traffic conditions at any time. They can be controlled both centrally from a distance and automatically. The use of this modern technology significantly improves traffic safety and minimizes traffic jams and other obstructions in the road system.

Rapid response to unpredictable events

One of the numerous advantages of digital traffic signs is that they can respond quickly to unforeseen events. If an accident occurs on a highway, for example, traffic signs reroute traffic within seconds.

If there is a road closure, the signs can be quickly adjusted, so drivers know which route to need to take to avoid the traffic jam.

These signs also play an important role in disaster situations by providing the route to the nearest emergency services.

Elektronic lane adviser

Flexible Traffic Control

Due to the flexibility of the displays, you use digital traffic signs individually and depending on the situation for different messages. So, you can adjust the speed limit or display a new route, among other things, if necessary.

In times of heavy traffic, intelligent variable message signs recommend specific routes or display detours. They also provide timely warnings of adverse weather conditions or wrong-way drivers on the highway. Furthermore, digital signs enable special notices to be displayed for specified periods, such as during vacation periods or major events.

This flexibility is a major advantage over traditional signs, which can usually point in only one direction. The screens also make it possible to communicate more complex messages.

Not useful everywhere

Theoretically, traffic light phases might also be displayed on a digital traffic sign. However, classic traffic lights powered by LED bulbs are simply cheaper, more robust and easier to maintain than digital screens for their task.

Where are Digital Street Signs used?

Digital street signs are a great help for motorists. They give clear instructions and make driving safer.

Digital speed displays on highways and exits are particularly popular and effective. Electronic traffic signs provide information about traffic jams or road works in the area and warn of dangerous situations. Electronic display boards often also show the current speed. This allows drivers to see in advance whether they need to stop or accelerate.

Digital signboards are also increasingly being found at railroad crossings instead of conventional notices. This is particularly practical because it is immediately recognized whether a train is just passing or not. This makes it easier to decide whether to use the crossing or go around it.

Many cities are also increasingly using digital traffic signs with sensors. These signs can react to movement through a camera or detectors and display corresponding information. As a result, they react very flexibly to the particular traffic situation.

How do Digital Road Signs work?

This is the question many people ask when they see a digital road sign for the first time. The answer is relatively simple: the signs are either connected to a computer and programmed with special software, or receive their information from the network. As soon as the sign is switched on, the corresponding information is displayed.

Some electronic signs these days have a solar kit and function largely autonomously through photovoltaic cells coupled with a powerful battery.

There are two ways to operate digital variable message signs:

1. Local

The LEDs are connected to a tablet or notebook on site and programmed using specialized software. For mobile devices, this has the advantage that they do not require network access. Since, they are transported to a location by operators based on demand. Without network access, there are no network attack vectors, which increases security.

2. Networked

Especially for stationary traffic signs, networking and thus central control makes sense. Here, all the advantages mentioned above come into play. The disadvantage is the potential vulnerability of these systems. Therefore, extensive security measures and training must be undertaken.

road sign with inspirational text

Digital traffic signs: The Guide

Digital Signage is increasingly associated with advertising and marketing nowadays, but basically, it is about the digitalization of the sign industry. At this point, we assume that you know what hardware is needed for outdoor use. More information on this topic you will find in our guide for advertising monitors.

Software for networked digital traffic signs requires five essential functionalities.

1. Remote Administration

Content is centrally controlled. Particularly, stationary installations benefit from the incredible flexibility offered by digital signage solutions.

2. Open Interfaces

Software needs to have so-called interoperability and must also be easy to communicate with third-party software. To achieve this, it requires open interfaces. Visit Digital Signage API for more details about the importance of interfaces in modern software.

3. Automation capability

This is the direct consequence of open interfaces. In the event of an accident or increased traffic volume, sensors automatically trigger a signal for a special interface. This starts a designated program to avoid or mitigate congestion by reducing the vehicle's speed.

4. Monitoring

The devices are monitored and therefore provide regular status reports about themselves. In the event of an error, you can react promptly and minimize downtime.

5. Security

A failover mechanism is required. The devices continue to run in the event of an Internet failure, and the connection must be secured in such a way that hackers have no chance even in the case of an error.

Our Digital Signage CMS offers all these functionalities combined with a so-called SMIL player. You receive freedom in the choice of devices that is unique on the market and in the transparency made possible by open-source and open interfaces. Just arrange a non-binding consultation meeting with us.

Weitere Digital Signage Lösungen


Sie haben weitere Fragen?

Unsere Kontaktdaten

SmilControl GmbH
Niederaue 1a
D-30419 Hannover

☎ +49 (0) 511 – 96 499 560

Amtsgericht Hannover
HRB 221981
USt-Id: DE 281 780 194

Vertretungsberechtigter Geschäftsführer:
Nikolaos Sagiadinos