Outdoor screen fitted with microphones so AI can 'hear' sirens in anti-knife crime campaign

Outdoor screen fitted with microphones so AI can ‘hear’ sirens

A hard-hitting anti-knife crime campaign is using a digital outdoor screen fitted with microphones and AI technology to pick up the sound of ambulance sirens as a prompt for different messages.

Anti-knife crime charity The Ben Kinsella Trust has launched the campaign for Mother’s Day with Clear Channel UK using AI machine learning. The campaign aims to raise awareness amongst young men aged 16- 24 of the “devastating impact” of knife crime.

It uses a machine-learning system which was trained to understand what an ambulance siren sounds. One hero  screen in London has also been fitted with microphones to pick up the sound of sirens, but The Media Leader was told there is no potential for passersby to be recorded.

The creative, which is based on anxious messages between mothers and sons around their safety and imploring them not to carry knives, will run across nearly 1,000 live digital billboards and Adshel screens in England and Wales.

Outdoor media owner Clear Channel and ad agency M&C Saatchi London trained the machine-learning system over a four-week period using recordings of real sirens.

The custom system could then recognise the sound of an ambulance, and so every time a siren is “heard” by microphones on the bus shelter installation, it will show the text messages between mothers and sons.

This system is running on one London site which was chosen due to its proximity to Royal London Hospital, which is one of the major trauma hospitals in the capital. A spokeswoman told The Media Leader was told there is no recording at the OOH sites and the public are not potentially being recorded near these sites.

The rest of the OOH sites are running standard digital content, and wider media across England and Wales was chosen with no specific targeting as these were unsold inventory during the period as the outdoor inventory was donated pro-bono.

Jonathan Acton, head of creative delivery, Clear Channel, said: “By using machine learning we have enabled the digital out-of-home bus shelters to adapt the creative to change when they ‘hear’ a siren. We’re using technology to bring this important campaign message to life in a dynamic way that has never been done before, to really engage passers-by.”

The activation will be supported by organic social media activity, building on M&C Saatchi and The Ben Kinsella Trust’s “Shout out to my son” radio campaign in 2019.

Brooke Kinsella, an actress best known for appearing on BBC soap EastEnders, launched the charity after her  16-year-old brother Ben was stabbed to death by a gang of three youths in a London street in June 2008.

She said of the campaign: “It’s been 15 years since we lost Ben and the pain of his loss has never gone away. Nobody should ever have to receive a phone call telling them that their loved one has been involved in a knife-related incident.

“Our campaign highlights the unique bond that exists between young men and their mum. Using text messages from mothers making emotional pleas to their sons, this innovative campaign will reach young men and make them think about the impact their decisions will have on those they love, so they stay safe and don’t carry a knife.”

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