When drivers are in their cars, these metal boxes create a figurative boundary between them and the outside world. We wanted to break down that boundary between drivers and pedestrian by making their relationship more personal. We realised that we needed to make our roads a little more human and remind drivers that pedestrians are people too. Each pedestrian could be their son/daughter, or brother/sister.
So we created a special zebra crossing that we placed at busy crossing directly outside a school. The Human Crossing alerted drivers when a student wanted to cross the street by displaying their name for drivers to see and asked the drivers to please stop. By doing this, an instant personal connection was created between the driver and the pedestrian, triggering drivers to stop for them so they could cross safely.
We developed a unique structure with LED screens and RFID tag readers, which we placed at busy crossing directly outside GEMS school in May 2016.
Thousands of key chains with embedded RFID tags, were distributed to students. When a student approached the crossing, the sensors picked up the RFID tag’s signal and alerted any on-coming driver that a student was about to cross by displaying that student’s name and asking the driver to stop for them. The sensor then followed the student as they crossed beneath the Human Crossing so that drivers could clearly see the student’s name on the screen as they passed beneath it.
This simple piece of technology created an important human connection between the driver and the student. Enabling a positive behavioural change in drivers by reminding them that pedestrians are people too, each with their own name and story.
The campaign had over 1.4 million video views with a media reach of more than 3,878,508.
And the story was featured in over 70 blogs and 47 times in the press.
The Human Crossing was also picked up by the government as one of the top innovations of 2016 and was featured at the GITEX international technology exhibition by Smart Dubai, visited by people from over 150 countries. Smart Dubai are in talks to roll out the idea countrywide.
Most importantly, the idea got drivers to change their behavior in a positive way and be more respectful to pedestrians at zebra crossings while sparking discussion on the topic of road safety in the region among the population, and the government who have made road safety one of their top priorities for Dubai’s 2020 vision.
The Human Crossing created a new media space designed for a specific purpose; to change driver behaviors in a positive way, getting them to stop for pedestrians. By grabbing drivers’ attention with our innovative structure, we created a human connection between drivers and pedestrians crossing the street, highlighting the fact that pedestrians are people too. This caused drivers who experienced The Human Crossing, and consumers who watched the film, to reassess their driving habits and make a positive behaviour change to stop at zebra crossings and make our roads a safer place for everyone.
Insights, Strategy and the Idea
To fully engage drivers, we needed an idea that would be safe and emotionally impactful. The project needed to work culturally and appeal to the UAE’s mixed demographic while reinforcing our message - At Volkswagen we care about more than just making cars, we care about people too.
Our idea focused on one thing that all people have in common, a name. We built the structure outside a school that has a mixed student demographic made up of UAE nationals, and Asian, Arab and Western expatriates. It was fully representative of the multicultural society in which we live.
To reach the wider UAE audience, we created an online film with a story about one of the school’s students which focused on his daily journey to and from school, following his morning routine until he reaches the zebra crossing, where he asks the question, “Do you see me now?”