ISA: New EMC Brightness Recommendations

ISA-EMC-1The International Sign Association (ISA) has issued new recommendations for effective and responsible brightness levels of electronic message centers (EMCs), in order to help sign companies, end-users, and local officials draft reasonable sign codes.

The online tool, available at, currently contains model statutory language and step-by-step directions on how to measure the brightness of an EMC.

The research in the new recommendations was conducted by Dr. Ian Lewin of Lighting Sciences, Inc., based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dr. Lewin is a leading lighting expert with more than thirty years’ experience in the lighting industry, including a term as president of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES).

“With an increasing number of cities across the country focusing on digital brightness, this is a good opportunity for the sign industry to step up and provide useful and comprehensible information on what can be a controversial and complex issue,” says David Hickey, ISA’s director of Government Relations. “In many ways, local officials are in the dark when it comes to knowing how EMCs work and how to optimize their effectiveness. These new recommendations can be used to help provide responsible answers to these questions, to everyone’s satisfaction.”

The new recommendations can be used by sign companies, end-users, and local officials to program EMCs at specific brightness levels that can be easily seen by motorists and comply with community standards.

Communities have adopted restrictive sign codes, in large part due to an absence of data. Dr. Lewin’s research provides communities contemplating such draconian steps with a scientifically sound alternative. “We want to help all stakeholders involved use these innovative products in a way that is effective and beneficial for businesses and communities,” said Hickey.

Since 2009, ISA has helped educate local officials on the science behind EMC lighting and assisted in drafting reasonable and beneficial sign codes.

Sign companies will be able to use this information to help their customers and local officials better understand the issues involved with EMC brightness, and participate as their communities develop regulations regarding these types of signs.

Creating these new EMC brightness recommendations is part of ISA’s role in promoting and improving the worldwide sign industry, through educational, advocacy, and networking initiatives.

(Photo courtesy of Adaptive Micro Systems.)