This winter, Clear Channel Sweden is lending its digital billboards to help Stockholm’s homeless find their nearest shelter through new innovative technology. The Out of Home Project sees ad content from Clear Channel’s digital billboards replaced with directions to the nearest homeless shelter when the temperature drops to freezing conditions, helping to protect the homeless from the cold winter weather. The pilot may provide an answer to the growing issue of homelessness throughout Europe, and depending on the success of the project, we could see the technology behind the platform being used across other European cities.
The initiative comes as the of the out-of-home (OOH) sector is driving the development of ‘smart cities’ through new technology, allowing billboards, bus shelters and street furniture to add new functions to serve residents. In the UK and the Netherlands, for example, digital panels broadcast missing children alerts, while across European cities Clear Channel displays provide helpful information such as traffic or weather updates, Wi-Fi, or the levels of pollution.
The unique initiative uses data sources such as time, weather and location as triggers so that when the temperature drops below City of Stockholm’s crisis limit of minus seven degrees Celsius, Clear Channel’s digital billboards display directions to open shelters nearby. It is a completely new initiative, bringing organisations that look after homeless people in Stockholm together for the first time on an OOH platform to provide a complete picture of the shelter networks in the city. Across Stockholm, 53 billboards have been activated for the pilot programme, focusing on areas that are known to be gathering points for homeless people, which will last over two months.
Ola Klingenborg, vice president of Northern Europe, Clear Channel International, said: “Our billboards are located where people are, and thanks to technology, we can develop solutions that can help both people and cities. This is something we see as an extension of our work in creating true value in the cities we operate in.”
When temperatures hit Stockholm’s crisis limit, the city of Stockholm together with churches and non-profit organisations open emergency shelters for those not covered by social services, however; information about the establishment of the shelters often does not reach the homeless in time. The Out of Home Project tackles this communication problem by activating Clear Channel’s digital panels which reach over a million people a day in Stockholm.
When the temperature is above the city’s crisis limit of minus seven degrees Celsius, the billboards display information on where people can donate necessities and how one can become a volunteer, as well as open day shelters for breakfast and warmth during the day.
Since launching in November, additional non-profit organisations in Stockholm have asked to be a part of the emergency system, further increasing the potential of the project to help the homeless escape the cold.
The Out of Home Project was developed by Prime Weber Shandwick on behalf of Clear Channel Sweden. Hanna Belander, creative director at Prime Weber Shandwick, said: “Out of Home media has never been more relevant. By using digital billboards, we are able to connect with a target group otherwise difficult to reach, while benefitting from an incomparable reach throughout the city. We are proud over that we, by having a value creation perspective on our work, have built something scalable that can make a difference.”
"Prime and Clear Channel reached out to us with a fun concept and idea, that we then executed into 54 different screen around Stockholm," says Charlotte Lindqvist, executive producer at Bannerboy. "The challenge was to map out all the different possibilities as different screens had to point to different shelters depending what time, weekday and weather it was as well as when breakfast would be served.
"Another obstacle to pass was managing the sheer amount of screens involved in this project. With almost 60,000 combined requests every day supervising data transfer volumes and storage became instrumental to the success the campaign. We made sure to use almost every trick in the book when it came to optimisation. By pre-computing static values, taking advantage of local storage capabilities, and fetching the coordinates from the screens to become independent of online GPS services it’s hard to find a slimmer DOOH-unit with these features. We also limited the update frequency of the weather information to sync with the updates of the Swedish Meteorological Institute. By the end we got down to one request per hour per screen and the total weight of all assets on display, including images and fonts clocked in at 664Kb.
“We are extremely humbled and grateful that Prime Weber Shandwick and Clear Channel reached out to us for such an important campaign. The outcome was fantastic but above all we are truly happy to have helped any homeless people find shelter, warmt and food”