Accident prevention goes high-tech

Preventable B.C. launches 'digital geofence' in Victoria

For those who have ever texted or used a mobile phone while walking down the street, Preventable B.C. has a message for you.

If pedestrians are using any one of 25 particular apps on their phones in the busiest intersections in Victoria, a message will appear within the app warning them to think about what they’re doing.

“What we’ve done is we’ve used technology to put up a digital geofence. So it’s like a boundary around that intersection and it extends out 250 metres,” said Ian Pike, Preventable B.C. co-executive director, describing the boundary as a GPS-enabled radio circumference around a particular location.

“When someone enters inside the 250-metre radius and they’re using their cell phone and are on any one of about 25 or 30 different applications, what they will see is a message that pops up on their device and it just says to them if you are texting and walking, have a word with yourself. It’s like a little banner ad that comes up on the application that they’re currently using.”

Pike said he hopes the campaign will change people’s behaviour and increase awareness in intersections.

“We know that 2,700 pedestrians are injured in car crashes on average every year in B.C. Of that, 60 are killed,” said Pike. “More than half of all pedestrian conflicts where they’re hit and injured or killed is from disobedience to the traffic signal.”

Preventable B.C.’s singular goal is to reduce preventable injuries in the province through social marketing campaigns, Pike said.

“The current campaign acknowledges that if you’re walking as a pedestrian in an environment where there is traffic to be thought about and avoided, then you should not be trying to accomplish the task of texting or speaking on the phone at the same time,” Pike said.

The campaign is taking place in Victoria and Vancouver, until the end of October. Intersections with the geofence in Victoria include Hillside Avenue and Shelbourne Street, Menzies Street and Simcoe Street and Toronto Street, Blanshard Street and Humboldt Street, Cook Street and Pandora Avenue, Douglas Street and Gorge Road and Hillside Avenue, and Pandora Avenue and Quadra Street.

 

There’s an app for that

1. YouTube

2. Words with Friends

3. CBC

4. Reddit

5. The Huffington Post