Posted by: Posterscope SA | July 1, 2009

Backlit Solar powered Billboards


Visiria (Pty) Ltd was formed to launch the world’s first backlit solar powered billboard to the South African market. This exciting innovation was supported by Samsung from the start, and without their support this project, and product, would not have been possible. Their first project was to roll out a national network of billboards at key commercial areas across South Africa – in the main LSM 4 – 6 communities. With the introduction of many new exciting retail properties in these communities, these stunning new billboards are adding value to these facelifts. Advertisers can now reach consumers in these areas by standing out on dominant upmarket boards that have tremendous environmental benefits (which has significant PR potential).
Traditionally billboards in the LSM 4 – 6 communities have not added value to the aesthetics of the areas they are in, and with the dramatic changes these communities are going through, Visiria identified an opportunity to add value to communities and advertisers alike. Most LSM 4 – 6 communities have been had, in the past few years, major commercial developments transforming them. The Visiria billboards fit in perfectly with the transformation and it is exciting for us to be a part of these dynamic times.

Billboard technology
On each billboard there is a microcomputer. This computer communicates through GSM technologies to a central office. This enables each billboard to switch itself on and off at night. This is done by the solar panels measuring the sunlight, and as dusk arrives the billboard will automatically measure the suns intensity and switch itself on. The time that the billboard switches on is then sms’d to the central office. The lights can be switched on and off remotely as well. This technology allows advertisers, through sms’s, to see when the billboard is being serviced, when their advertisements are flighted and of any detail regarding the operation of their billboard. Thus for the first time advertisers are able to measure the time their adverts are flighted, and each evening the time the lights were on, and the full functioning of their billboard through the use of instant messaging.
At any time the billboard status can be requested from the central office and reports of battery cell life, the status of the billboard and important operational information can be requested. This ensures advertisers that their billboard is functioning and in good order. Should any damage occur then this is immediately sms’d to a different number and action will be taken to rectify the problem. All these technologies are designed to improve the service to clients who are often great distances from their billboards.

Fossil Fuels and the environment
Global warming has been at the forefront of many debates in recent years, with documentaries – such as the Al Gore movie “The inconvenient Truth” – and articles about world leaders and the Kyoto protocol (an international environmental treaty to achieve “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”)
There is very little debate that the world now must move to alternative “greener” sources of energy. The burning of Fossil fuels to drive industry and our daily energy requirements comes with very dangerous climatic cost.
• The number of category 4 & 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the last 30 years
• Malaria has spread to higher altitudes (Colombian Andes 7 000 feet above sea level
• The flow of ice from glaciers in Greenland has more than doubled over the past decade.
• At least 279 species of plants and animals are already responding to global warming.
If the warming continues, we can expect catastrophic consequences.
• Deaths from global warming will double in 30 years to 300 000 people a year.
• Global sea levels could rise by more than 20 feet with the loss of shelf ice in Greenland and Antarctica, devastating coastal areas worldwide.
• The Arctic Ocean could be ice free in summer by 2050.

The first 30 Samsung billboards save (over 12 months) the equivalent amount of electricity that 1 080 medium sized households will use in a month. It is important that the outdoor industry develops and invests in this technology as clearly the current consumption in the industry is significant. Approximately 90% of the world’s electricity demand is generated from the use of fossil fuels, and South Africa is currently the 14th highest emitter of green house gases in the world (through the burning of fossil fuels). Samsung, through their support and commitment of this project are leading the way, and we are proud to be associated by such a respected brand.

We wanted to launch the billboards into the LSM 4 – 6 communities and then ensure that the product added value to the aesthetics of the community and the advertising brands. In Ulundi (In KZN) they have placed a billboard at the main intersection leading into the busy commercial area. The billboards have a brushed aluminium finish, which is upmarket and with modern design features which complements the new shopping mall developments taking place there. They are following up with ongoing education campaigns around all the key areas of global warming, alternative energy solutions and what each of us can do to save energy. In South Africa we have the added problem with Eskom’s supply issues and electricity safety tips will be communicated in this context as well. These activities will be run through community newspapers and Samsung will derive significant PR value from this. The billboard thereafter is a constant reminder, with its prominent solar feature which has been well designed to complement the board’s aesthetic value.



  1. Nicely written article

  2. i like this site. i added on my bookmark i thanks

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