Digital signage is a great communication tool for event and office spaces. People use signage to share events, news and other important information. Oddly enough, one thing people often over look as an use case for their digital signage is emergency messaging.

Companies will spend money to email, text, and call employees in case of an emergency, but do not think much about using their existing display infrastructure to reach more people. I can understand why in some cases. Some digital signage solutions make it difficult to integrate to an emergency messaging system. Luckily, Xibo is not one of those digital signage solutions. With just a few API calls, you can connect your signage to your emergency messaging system.

The Workflow

The way this works is simple. We will check a rss feed provided by an emergency management system. The feed will be empty if there is no emergency, but will show a message if something is happening. If we detect an event, we change the layout on a group of displays. When the event is over, we roll back to the normally scheduled layout.

The Set Up

Before we can start using the API, there are a few things we need to do in the CMS. First, we need to make a layout to be switched to in case of an emergency. The id of the layout needs to be noted, more on this later. Second, we need to group our displays together in a display group. We need to note the id of the display group (http://xibo.org.uk/manual/en/displays_groups.html). Third, we need to set up the api keys needed to use the API.This post will not cover how to authenticate with the Xibo CMS API. Check out this link for more information on authentication (https://community.xibo.org.uk/t/1-8-api-introduction/7702?source_topic_id=10152). After these things are done, we are ready to start making API calls.

Using The API

Before using the API you should check out the xibo documentation on the subject (http://xibo.org.uk/manual/api/ ). Now let’s get down to business. The following section will show you the workflow needed to show our alert. If we see an event on our rss feed we must do a POST call on the following url:

/displaygroup/{displayGroupId}/action/changeLayout

{displayGroupId} must be replaced with the id of the display group we created earlier to house our displays. We need to pass three arguments for this API call to work: displayGroupId, layoutId, and changeMode.

displayGroupId: the same as what we used above. The id of the display group.

layoutId: id of the alert layout we want to show

changeMode: set this to ‘action’

When we detect that the event is over, we must now do a POST call using the following:

/displaygroup/{displayGroupId}/action/revertToSchedule

Again, the {displayGroupId} is the display group id that was used above. We must also pass the display group id as a parameter with name ‘displayGroupId’. This will switch our alert layout off and show the scheduled layout(s) in it’s place.

Now one question you may have is, “how long will it take to switch layouts”? Since Xibo uses XMR (Xibo Message Relay) it will only be a delay of seconds to switch layouts. You can learn more about XMR here (http://xibo.org.uk/manual/en/xmr.html).

So it’s not that hard to integrate Xibo with your emergency messaging system. It’s worth the time and investment to bridge these two systems. If you need some help with your integration or just need an Xibo hosting company, check us out at https://mysignage.rocks!