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Thread: Digital sign regulations

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Digital sign regulations

    The City of Calgary (like many cities) is coping with the influx of Digital Signs; specifically third party.

    We've been in touch with the City of Toronto but I wanted to get more of a broad perspective from those cities that regulate digital signs on things such as lighting levels, message change speed, etc.

    We've been asked to come up with some 'stop gap' measures until we've done a full out review; which we plan to have finished in 2012. I've come up with the general understanding of regulation and I've seen some municipalities set lighting levels in day/night and ambient levels - but I wanted to see other examples.

    I'm particularly look for things like:
    message change speed between each digital image;
    Maximum light levels during day/night plus maximum ambient light level change;
    Seperating distances between digital signs;
    Seperating distances between digital signs and residential.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by calgaryplanner View post

    I'm particularly look for things like:
    message change speed between each digital image;
    Maximum light levels during day/night plus maximum ambient light level change;
    Seperating distances between digital signs;
    Seperating distances between digital signs and residential.
    Working on the same thing, and we're not through by a long shot. Early on my PC is leaning toward the following:

    1. Only Monument Signs shall be allowed an EMC component.

    2. Display of each message shall remain for a minimum of six (6) seconds before transitioning to another message.

    3. EMC Signs shall be allowed a maximum brightness of 10,000 NITs. All EMC Signs shall be dimmed to between 30% and 50% brightness after 10:00 p.m. and before 6:00 a.m. When considering specific signs under the Conditional Use Standards, the City may impose more strict requirements for dimming if it is found warranted by special circumstances.

    4. No EMC Sign shall be programmed or operated in such a way as to become a nuisance to surrounding properties, or to be an interference with traffic in any way.


    We're trying to use percentages for brightness because we don't have any "good" way to measure the brightness and no budget to buy the gadgetry it would require. It all feels a little "arbitrary" to me still, but I hope we're heading in the right directions. Anyway calgaryplanner, there's what I've got so far....
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  3. #3
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    2. Display of each message shall remain for a minimum of six (6) seconds before transitioning to another message
    I'd seriously consider an much longer time between messages, like five minutes or more. Considering the number of electronic message center signs along some commercial corridors, with more on the way, a six second interval means there will always be some signs in the viewscape that will be in transition.

    Also consider provisions that the message will be static, with no animation, shifting color, fading or scrolling effects, and so on, and the transition between messages will be instant.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  4. #4
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by calgaryplanner View post
    The City of Calgary (like many cities) is coping with the influx of Digital Signs; specifically third party.

    We've been in touch with the City of Toronto but I wanted to get more of a broad perspective from those cities that regulate digital signs on things such as lighting levels, message change speed, etc.

    We've been asked to come up with some 'stop gap' measures until we've done a full out review; which we plan to have finished in 2012. I've come up with the general understanding of regulation and I've seen some municipalities set lighting levels in day/night and ambient levels - but I wanted to see other examples.

    I'm particularly look for things like:
    message change speed between each digital image;
    Maximum light levels during day/night plus maximum ambient light level change;
    Seperating distances between digital signs;
    Seperating distances between digital signs and residential.
    -The State of Ohio has a regulation with 8 seconds, but we have gone with 10 seconds. I am not sure how you can argue that 6 messages per minute isn't enough. I would argue 1 per minute is probably more appropriate.

    -The City of San Diego has a great ambient light level code for EMCs.

    We allow only a % of the total sign area to be EMC and require a static component to be present. A wall EMC has a height requirement of 12 feet. I can't agree with Dan more on the transitioning. We do not allow any movement of messages, animations, sound, or communication with passengers.

    -As for digital billboards, if you can't outright ban them, make sure you are strict on the transitions, animations, and messages per minute. Also be aware that many *giant* sign companies are researching how these signs can communicate with drivers - i.e. sending a phone a text when it drives by, or changing the message of the sign depending on the driver.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    Dan, great point about the view corridor. I hadn't really thought of it in that context because we have very few right now. We don't allow them as wall signs or pole signs, and only 50% of the sign face can be EMC when they are allowed. Currently we are proposing to limit them to only within 600 feet (that's a block around here) of my city's four main east-west commercial intersections of a long regionally significant corridor. Eventually that might spread and the view issue could be dramatic.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    We were thinking at least 10 seconds per message; but at least 300m between each sign.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    I'd seriously consider an much longer time between messages, like five minutes or more......
    I tried that and have the scars to prove it.
    Annoyingly insensitive

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