Lfant, Länsförsäkringar’s innovation company, set us the following challenge: What can we do together to help prevent the 300 road traffic accidents involving children that take place every year?
Lfant is Länsförsäkringar’s innovation company and is tasked with constantly researching new ideas that can create change for its business or customers as well as society in general. EVRY has worked on a number of innovation projects with Lfant, which have ranged from preventing water damage using the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning through to virtual reality solutions.
Lfant came to EVRY with a question: Can we do something together to help prevent the 300 road traffic accidents involving children that take place every year?
When we take this type of project on, we usually work using our SPARK innovation process, which is a method that combines design thinking, lean startup and agile development. Its aim is to quickly identify needs and prerequisites, to form hypotheses that can be investigated and validated and, if any of them fly, to proceed.
- The greater purpose is of course to save lives. That’s why we are doing this. I interviewed the children afterwards and pretty much all of them said they had learnt about traffic safety. Now they know how to cross the road, which is so rewarding. It is only when you test a product in real life that you can tell if it’s a success. Lisa Olsson COO, Lfant AB
Research work revealed that over half of children are afraid of and worried about traffic. Children gave examples of drivers running red lights, of cyclists and moped drivers driving on the pavement, and cars driving into playgrounds.
The children were also anxious when visibility was poor, e.g. when the snow has not been properly cleared away or when hedges have not been properly trimmed. One of the children’s biggest difficulties with regard to road safety is that they were trapped by self-oriented thinking; they work on the basis of their perspective and cannot understand that others might have a different perspective.
What this means in the context of traffic is that they cannot understand and thus take into account drivers’ thought processes. A lot of work has been done on how to educate children about road safety without great success, and this is because while children act correctly under controlled conditions, this is not the case in more complex traffic environments.
Why does changing children’s behaviour not help make them safer? The reason is that, before the age of about 12, children do not have the skills needed to always exhibit behaviour that keeps them safe in terms of road safety.
One working hypothesis was that offering lessons involving augmented reality and gamification so that children would experience and practice road safety situations in an enjoyable and safe way would increase their knowledge and thus reduce the number of accidents.
The solution was, therefore, an interactive AR game in which children learn about road safety in a safe environment. A number of initial “lessons” were created that were intended to teach children road safety rules and specific skills, in addition to a Pokémon Go-inspired game in which children collect road signs and then put them out in the right place in the game environment.
The solution has now been tested at a number of pre-schools and primary schools in Skåne with good results. One variant has been completed at various city events by thousands of children. The element of the game that the children enjoyed the most was looking for the signs, with the children telling their parents about them. Interviews and assessments show that 90% of the children learnt to cross the road.
We are now starting work in earnest, and are working together with Länsförsäkringar, Lfant and the Swedish National Society for Road Safety on developing new lessons and learning materials for teachers in order to introduce the solution as a tool for road safety education at schools across Sweden.