Smartphone-related accidents among kids riding their bicycles are a fast-growing problem in the Netherlands. For children 1 in 5 traffic accidents involve phone usage. In response, we created Safe Lock, a bicycle lock that connects to the user’s smartphone and to the KPN network, and temporarily blocks all data and voice communication to and from the child’s device while cycling. We presented KPN as the first telecom provider in the world to ensure the safety of its youngest users by blocking their network access while in traffic. The introduction attracted a great deal of publicity, reaching over 180.000.000.
Smartphone-related accidents among kids riding their bicycles are a fast-growing problem in the Netherlands. Our brief: to develop an awareness campaign that increases the safety of children on their bicycles and, in doing so, to help KPN claim a unique position as a responsible telecom provider.
In partnership with a neuroscientific research institute, we studied the effects of smartphones on traffic safety among children. The results showed that smartphones present a constant distraction to cycling children - even when they aren’t using them. Kids can’t help being curious, and smartphone notifications demand instant attention.
Current options to block distractions are limited. Solutions such as Apple’s Car Mode or Samsung’s Do Not Distract mode need to be turned on manually, which is easily forgotten, or can be simply switched off, offering an easy way out to a generation that always wants to stay in touch with their friends.
Describe the creative idea
Instead of just an awareness campaign we developed a solution: Safe Lock, a bicycle lock that acts as a binary switch. When the bicycle is unlocked, the KPN cellular and data network is locked, disabling all data and voice communication. When the bicycle is locked back up, the network is unlocked and kids can freely use their phone again. In case of an emergency, the alarm number can always be reached.
To make this possible, we had to enhance the KPN cellular network, enabling it to temporarily block all data and voice communication to a specific smartphone. The lock is very easy to use for kids, as it builds on the existing habit of locking their bike with a similar style O-lock.
Describe the strategy
Our PR approach aimed to reach 50% of Dutch adults by generating publicity through major national news outlets. Our message: KPN increases traffic safety for children by creating a bicycle lock that temporarily blocks access to its network – the first solution of its kind by a telecom provider.
We announced the Safe Lock while it was still at the pilot stage which increased its newsworthiness and gave us the opportunity to follow-up with news on its further development.
Describe the execution
We launched our message on 21 June 2017 through a national and international press release. Our press kit highlighted research findings about the safety effects of smartphone distraction in traffic. It also included a press video explaining the Safe Lock mechanism. We made sure journalists had access to a range of press materials, which helped ensure consistency of the message.
We will have a final PR moment when we’ll start selling the Safe Lock in stores all around the Netherlands in January 2019.
List the results
The Safe Lock was first presented as a prototype in June 2017. Since then, the lock has been widely reported by both national and international press, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Verge, and reached over 10 million people in The Netherlands (a country of only 17 million) and over 180 million people worldwide.
In the wake of our PR effort, awareness of the Safe Lock reached 22% of Dutch adults. Their response is very positive: 66% of those who know about the Safe Lock regard it as a sympathetic initiative by KPN, and younger generations respond even more positively than their parents (76%). Brand perception scores are higher among those who have heard of the Safe Lock – for example ‘KPN makes society better / safer' (22% vs. 17%).
Our press release issued an open invitation to telecom providers worldwide, to collaborate with us on the introduction of this solution around the globe. We believe that this innovation can be implemented in a wide range of transportation modes, including cars, and offers a powerful solution to a problem that will become increasingly urgent in the years to come. Especially among young drivers.