Germany orders shutdown of digital ads to save gas

Germany has ordered overnight shutdowns for non-essential digital signage, to save its reserves of natural gas for more important purposes.

Like many European nations, Germany relies on gas imported from Russia. And thanks to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, that gas is currently in short supply.

The European Union has therefore implemented an energy saving plan. One of Germany’s tactics is requiring digital signage in shop windows and other non-essential locations to be turned off between 10:00PM and 6:00AM. Germany will also stop external lighting of some public buildings and implement many other power-saving measures.

The plan [PDF] requiring the switch-off was published on August 12, with a deadline of September 1.

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But as German outlet Invidis reports, reports, the regulation was unhelpfully vague. For starters an updated ordinance [PDF] appears to have made the simple mistake of substituting 06:00 and 16:00 – meaning digital signage could only run from 4PM to 10PM.

Invidis also pointed out that digital signage at bus stops and train stations can do double duty displaying ads and timetable information.

Exceptions for such dual-purpose signs have been arranged.

Those errors and ambiguities have reportedly left those who run digital signs unsure of what they needed to do and worried they might miss the deadline.

Further complicating matters is a requirement to turn off the screens altogether rather than leaving the displays blank.

Digital signage is seldom switched off, and retail staff will have to learn how to do that. Many digital signs also include a computer – some are Android machines, others use compute sticks, the Intel NUC and even the Raspberry Pi. Admins will therefore need to cope with extra reboots.

And then there’s the matter of content updates, which are often scheduled overnight.

All of which adds up to a stressful moment for admins of digital signage, and not much time to get things right.

And massive, enormous, huge potential for Bork on a national scale. Do let us know if you spot some Putin-related BSOD action flowing from Germany’s policy, which followed a plan implemented by Spain earlier in August that appears not to have caused massive issues. ®

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