Case Study - City of San Diego DMS

Case Study - City of San Diego DMS
Table of contents

City of San Diego Dynamic Message Signs, San Diego, California


(5) Locations in Downtown San Diego - Headquarters at 2781 Caminito Chollas, San Diego, CA 92105

Completion Date

July 21, 2016

Electronic Display Technology

20mm Outdoor Thru Hole (DIP346) LED Displays

Electronic Display Features & Statistics

  • A network of (5) single faced LED signs communicate important traffic information to motorists
  • Content management system (CMS) is set up for coordinated text messaging at all locations
  • 60 frames per second refresh rate


The City of San Diego put out a request for proposal in October 2014 regarding five new DMS (Dynamic Message Signs).  Bid requirements specified that each DMS be a single faced LED screen used for displaying dynamic vehicular traffic messages. The LED screens needed to fit on existing traffic poles and work within power and data constraints imposed at each location. The text displayed on the LED displays needed to be clearly visible, day or night, and meet AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) standards for Interstate sign structures.

The real challenge for this project was to provide a content management system (CMS) that was compliant with NTCIP (National Transportation Communications for ITS [Intelligent Transportation Systems] Protocol). The CMS also needed to meet the security policies of the City of San Diego’s Cyber Security Department. How could these strict requirements be met?


AASHTO specifications were fairly straightforward and easily met with basic 20mm DIP LED display technology, specified by Ad Art. The LED system included a 5 year warranty and also fit well within the city’s budget. Ad Art staff and subcontractors worked hand in hand with City of San Diego staff so as to meet the installation schedule on time. Ad Art provided tailored content management software training and assets to prepare staff to use their CMS according to their needs.

Regarding the need for a content management system (CMS) that met bid specifications, Ad Art first attempted to write custom software that was NTCIP compliant. This proved to be overly time consuming and very cost ineffective. After review of their circumstances, the City of San Diego decided they did not need to adopt the NTCIP standard for these traffic signs, and that commercial CMS systems designed specifically for digital signs would prove to be a better fit. The city eventually adopted to operate their LED signs. was a perfect fit because it contains all of the practical features needed to manage content and also meets the strict security policies required by the Cyber Security Department. staff assisted Ad Art to show compliance with the city’s “Tech Alignment Questionnaire” and to implement SAML to securely authenticate City of San Diego users logging into

The end result is another satisfied Ad Art customer who was able to meet their digital signage requirements on time and on budget.

DMS Locations and Equipment

DMS #2 & DMS #5 LED screens (left & center) and typical LED control system (right)

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San Diego DMS LED Screens

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