Members of the emergency evacuation industry are questioning current emergency exit signage used in the United States. Angelo Verzoni argues in his NFPA Journal article “Exiting Smarter” for the need for more dynamic emergency signage in America.
VP of Jensen Hughes, National Fire Protection Agency 92 (Smoke Control Systems) technical committee member and industry veteran Mike Ferreria weighed in as well. He states that the problem with traditional exit signs is that they’ve become just another average visual stimulus within buildings. Ferraria compares the need for emergency signage updates to the recent trends regarding fire alarms. Experts noticed that the traditional tone used to alert occupants of a fire began to be ignored and did not create the sense of urgency required for fire emergencies. Similarly, the public is beginning to relate emergency exit signs as just another part of the building and not as an important part of emergency procedure.
Verzoni argues for the need for dynamic emergency signage in America. She states that putting effort and resources toward making dynamic signage the new norm will make buildings much more safe.
Here are Verzoni’s three levels of “dynamic emergency signage:”
- Any change to the state of a traditional sign. A good example of this would be an exit sign that flashes during an emergency, rather than staying lit but static.
- Signage that indicates primary and secondary egress routes. In the case of a fire or active shooter, for example, signage would have the ability to turn on and indicate exit routes rather than just exits.
- Level three of dynamic emergency signage would use artificial intelligence (A.I.) to create alternative exit routes in real time. The automated exit routes would predict where occupants should go in real-time as an emergency is taking place.
These ideas continue to be researched and developed today. Continuing to explore the advancement of fire and emergency evacuation signage will be one of the most important aspects of the future of building safety.
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