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Smart cities, safer living

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Smart cities, safer living

The Innovation team at Instinctif harness the best of the future to deliver market-leading ideas in the present. The team’s specialism spans digital strategy and marketing, data & analytics, and strategic brand. This fortnightly update shares top tips to help you foster creative and challenge the status quo and summarises the news that matters.

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Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve learnt that people living in metropolitan areas are most likely to be impacted, due to less space available to effectively socially distance and higher levels of pre-existing medical conditions caused by pollution.

But these same areas are also those best equipped with the infrastructure to help us negotiate new, healthier ways of living during and after the current crisis.

One organisation, the Newcastle Urban Observatory, is focusing its efforts on monitoring movement in cities in real time to allow us to redesign our places of living. It uses thousands of sensors and data to track everything from vehicle and pedestrian flow to bus GPS trackers, energy consumption, climate and air quality.

Using this data, along with computer vision and image processing, it has created algorithms that can calculate how well social distancing is taking place in public. This can highlight areas where distancing is impossible and support the building of alternative routes for residents.

Yet solutions lie not only in algorithms and labs. They’re also increasingly likely to lie in our own pockets. More accessible ways that you can take charge of your own safety are in development all the time.

Take this beeper from Pathfindr, for example. The company who makes it usually provides internet-based technical solutions, but has now switched to producing this small piece of technology that you simply place in your pocket or around your neck when you’re in public. As the name suggests, it emits a beeping noise if you’re with two metres of your closest companion.

Intermittent beeps emitting from your pocket are unlikely to be conducive to intimate conversations – but that’s the point. For those of us who spend our time questioning how far apart we need to be standing, they’ll do the work for us and remind us exactly what two metres looks like.

Both the Newcastle Urban Observatory’s work and Pathfindr’s beeper serve as a useful nod to our ability to adapt our lives to the new landscapes in which we find ourselves.


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After 10 weeks in lockdown, we’ve run the full gamut of emotions. And, between a rolling news cycle and loo roll shortages, sometimes it can feel as though joy is in short supply.

But now, Finland, the title holder of the world’s happiest country, is imparting its residents’ wisdom around how to grab happiness – and hold onto it.

The official Finland travel site, RentAFinn is running a programme of free, 60-minute online classes, each focusing on a different local guru and sharing the activities that keep them happy.

To top up your contentment levels, tune in to the next livestream on 29 May, and get ready to feel your mood boosted.


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This week’s tip comes from Junior Account Manager, Eoin McGrath.

A picture, we’re told, is worth a thousand words. This is helpful in situations like the one we’re currently in, when complex and unfamiliar messaging needs to be communicated to the public clearly.

Enter the United Nations COVID-19 Response Creative Content Hub. It’s a one-stop site bringing together the bright ideas of creators from across the globe to help spread important messages around stopping the virus.

The work focuses on six key messages – personal hygiene, physical distancing, know the symptoms, myth-busting, spread kindness and solidarity – in formats ranging from infographics to short films.

Get inspired – explore the work here.

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