Cathy Van Maren raises good issues in her Sept. 5 letter about new high-tech digital billboards. However, I’d like to mention a few issues she left out.

Energy consumption in digital billboards has dropped significantly in the past four years — down 60 percent.

Also, did you know that digital billboards are now 98 percent recyclable? Like all new technology, digital billboards continue to improve, and reducing energy consumption is obviously a top priority.

It is also important to know communities around the country are using digital billboards on behalf of the public, and governments are using them to engage citizens and advance public safety.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency activated digital billboards earlier this month in areas affected by Hurricane Irene to display disaster relief and emergency support information. The FBI in Oklahoma also was announcing the arrests of two dangerous fugitives who were recognized after being featured on digital billboards.

To support severe flood recovery in our own state last fall, disaster officers had to think outside the box on how to quickly communicate with the public. Milwaukee Office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security coordinated the use of digital billboards along major thoroughfares.

Retired Janesville Police Chief Neil Mahan praised the new technology and its high-tech partnership with law enforcement. “An elderly female suffering from Alzheimer’s disease wandered away from family at a local shopping mall and was found by a citizen using the digital billboard information,” he wrote. “When spring floods along the Rock River posed significant danger to the public, billboards were used to post warnings.”

Nationwide, more than 600 AMBER Alerts have been transmitted to digital billboards by the National Center for Missing & Exploiting Children, helping in the search for children who have been violently abducted.

Five years of research have shown digital billboards are not related to traffic crashes. Meanwhile, government has used the technology in its fight against distracted driving. A yearlong campaign in Harford, Conn., which included the use of digital billboards, produced impressive results, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

We are a community-oriented industry, and Olympus is very much a community-oriented company. We strive to support local businesses and ensure our product benefits the community as a whole. Remember, we live here, too.

My outdoor advertising colleagues around the country commemorated the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 in their communities with special messages on digital billboards to honor those whose lives were lost and those who continue to fight to save our lives.

So, take some time and think about how digital billboards are helping communities, saving lives and supporting local economies and jobs.

Mary Niemeyer is vice president and general manager of Olympus Media’s Wisconsin division.

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