All posts by JCDecaux

Running in the city

Recent years saw a growing popularity of urban running, as evidenced by the impressive number of participants in the numerous races organized in cities around the world. This went hand in hand with the development of mobile and tracking technologies, giving birth to a bunch of innovations and leading to the emergence of new behaviors. And as these runners are also consumers, brands were quick to adopt the trend by creating new products and services.

An urban running championship

adidas_boost_battle_run_parisWilling to strengthen its position on the running market, Adidas partenered with Ubi Bene and Isobar agencies to create the “Boost Battle Run“, a competition between runners representing different Parisian neighborhoods. Inspired by the Palio, the famous horse race heald twice a year on the Piazza del Campo in Siena, this operation consists in a 9-months championship where 10 teams compete against each other during monthly races and a final run.

Each team includes around 100 runners and organizes several training sessions every week in the streets and parks of Paris. The championship’s ranking is based on teams’ performances, but also on their activity on social networks. Runners’ sense of belonging to a neighborhood is strengthened by the artwork of French artist Franck Pellegrino, who designed blazons for each team. Following the success of the first Boost Battle Run, a second edition started in February 2015 and is currently ongoing under the new name “Boost Energy League“. Pop-up Urbain

Spotify to become an essential running tool

spotify_runningIn the past months, Swedish streaming service Spotify announced new features on its app specifically dedicated to runners.

The “Spotify Running” feature is able to determine a runner’s pace using the smartphone’s sensors and generates a 100-song playlist adapted to pace and music preferences.

This option is currently available in a few countries only, but should be extended soon to every Spotify user.

At the same time, the streaming service is developing partnerships with Nike+ and Runkeeper to let runners browse its music library directlty from these apps.

Through these innovations, Spotify is showing its ambition to become an essential tool for runners. Mashable

A wearable bell to make urban running more fluid

runbell_running_brass_bellRunning in a crowded urban environment can sometimes be difficult and, unlike bicycle riders, runners rarely have dedicated paths to practice their activity.

Willing to solve the problem of having to slalom between pedestrians, a couple from Japan created the prototype of a brass bell for “frustration-free urban running“. Their “Runbell” lets runners warn people of their approach with a melodious sound. This 30g object consisting in two rings and a bell is worn on the index and middle fingers. The bell mechanism is operated by the thumb.

Runbell was successfully funded by a Kickstarter campaign launched in 2014. PSFK

Artistic running routes

mapmyfitness_drawingThe use of GPS lets runners visualize their routes and some great maps were made from the tracking data collected by running apps.

An unexpected yet creative activity grew from this trend: willing to make physical exercise more fun, some runners started “sketching” real drawings based on their actual running routes as seen on a map.

Brands were quick taking over this trend and some drawing contests launched by Nike+ and MapMyFitness gave birth to some pretty impressive artwork. A Nike+ user even created a Tumblr showcasing her best “running drawings”. Running Drawing

Trees can make waiting shorter at the bus stop

trees_waiting_time_perception_bus_stopLast year, we mentioned a study made by researchers from the University of Minnesota showing that the presence of a shelter could make waiting time feel shorter at a bus stop. The same team recently unveiled new results based on its analysis of commuters’ time perception in Minneapolis and Saint-Paul. Using data from a sample of 822 riders at 36 bus stops located all around the Twin Cities, these new results show that the surrounding environment has a significant impact on time perception. Indeed, it turns out that air pollution and car traffic have a negative impact on waiting time perception, making a 10 minutes wait feel like 12 minutes. On the contrary, the presence of trees around a bus stop tends to make a 10 minutes stop feel closer to 7 minutes. Here is a new argument in favor of planting more trees in cities! CityLab

A DIY poster made of bike locks

axa_bike_locks_posterDutch bicycle locks manufacturer Axa Stenman and TBWA-Neboko agency came up with a clever campaign in Amsterdam to promote the security level of the company’s latest “Victory” locks.

The Dutch city is of course famous for its numerous bicycles, but also for its high number of bike theft. The creative team behind this operation first collected pieces of other companies’ broken bike locks found in the streets of Amsterdam.

These metal elements were then pasted around a brand new Axa Victory locks to create letters on a special DIY poster displaying the message “The lock that should’ve been on your last bike“. Adweek

An edible billboard

nakd_edible_billboard_findyourfavNatural Balance Foods partnered with Total Media agency to promote its fruit and cereal bars Nākd in an innovative and tasty way.

A billboard entirely made of candies was set-up in the middle of London’s Westfield shopping centre.

Passers-by were invited to discover the brand’s complete range of flavors and grab a free bar among the 40,000 ones forming the so-called #findyourfave edible billboard. Pioneering Out-of-Home

Crossing the street can be fun, too!

walkbump_crosswalk_los_angeles_alfredo_adan_rosesSome people wonder if pressing the “walk button” at a crosswalk actually has any effects. Spanish designer Alfredo Adan Roses doesn’t provide an answer but comes up with a great idea to make street crossing more fun.

He created silicon molds of his fist and placed them on several crosswalk poles in downtown Los Angeles. Instead of pressing the good old button, passers-by had to “bump” the artificial fist to activate the walk signal.

According to the first videos made of the “Walkbump“, L.A. dwellers seem to have already adopted this unknown urban object. Engadget

A map responding to weather conditions

thermo_color_map_bath_camilla__emplemanBritish designer Camilla Hempleman created an innovative map of the city of Bath, able to highlight different points of interest according to outside temperature and weather conditions. Her”BATH °C Thermo Colour Map” is completely hand-drawn using special thermochromic inks on a waterproof synthetic material called Tyvek. When the temperature ranges between 25 and 30 degrees, rivers, lakes, parks and other outdoor sites turn pink on the map. When it rains, monuments and museums turn blue, showing tourists where to stay dry during their visit. And as folding a map can sometimes turn into a nightmare, Hempleman’s tool can be rolled up and easily stored. Designboom

Fancy a Mad Max ride?

mad_max_uber_warner_seattleAs part of the promotion of the Mad Max video game, which was inspired by the recent Mad Max: Fury Road film, Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment teamed up with Uber to offer Seattle dwellers a wild and post-apocalyptic riding experience.

For a limited time, Uber users from the rainy city had the possibility to book free cars revamped into special vehicles inspired by the atmosphere of Mad Max.

To make the experience more authentic, Uber drivers were also dressed up like the movie characters. The Verge

Vote with your cigarette litter!

hubbub_cigarette_litters_ashtray_vote_ronaldo_messiWilling to reduce the quantity of cigarette litters thrown in the streets of London, British environmental charity Hubbub came out with a smart campaign involving football icons Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. A giant ashtray set-up outside Embankment tube station was divided into two glass containers, each corresponding to one of the two players. By stubing out their cigarette and throwing the litter in one of these containers, smokers were invited to participate in a crucial and highly polemical vote: “Who is the best player in the world?“. The accumulation of litters in the containers let passers-by discover the result of the poll. A fun way to increase public awareness about environmental issues! The Daily Mail

Connected bins in New York City

wifi_bin_nyc_hotspot_high_techMassachusetts-based waste managment company BigBelly and the City of New York implemented in downtown Manhattan connected bins equipped with chips telling trash collectors once the bin is full. They now are about to be turned into Wi-Fi hotspots.

With a high bandwidth, the signal emitted is excellent since the bins are located on street level and thus, don’t receive any interference from skyscrapers.

Apart from this project, the City of New York has already turned its old payphones into Wi-Fi

More bikers means less risk of accidents

bike_cyclist_safety_studyRecent studies unveiled by health consultant Peter Lyndon Jacobsen showed that the more bikers and walkers are on the streets, the smaller is the risk of accidents. That doesn’t mean there are fewer accidents in figures, but that the proportion of accidents per bikers and walkers is smaller.

This study, carried on in 14 European countries, 68 Californian cities and 47 towns in Denmark, shows that the presence of bikers and walkers increases drivers’ attention. Thus, the risk of accidents is diminished.

Looking for the greenest road

green_mobile_app_walking_trees_walkonomicsBecause people are happier when their environment is green, the start-up Walkonomics developed a smart app which indicates to the user the greenest road to go from a point A to a point B. Thanks to a slider, you can choose whether you want to take the quickest road or the greenest one, meaning the most tree-lined road.

Already developed for seven cities from NY, Paris to Buenos Aires or Glasgow, this app is based on city governements’ open data and OpenStreetmap, as well as aerial photos.

Mobile phone gaming is becoming more and more popular

mobile_gaming_emarketerAccording to a study carry out by eMarketer, the use of smartphone to play is becoming more and more popular. In 2015, half of the American population is a mobile phone gamer, and that figure could increase up to 63% of the population by 2019. This represents 64% of mobile phone owners (76.5% by 2019).

Companies see in this trend a potential new way to advertise for their products. To avoid the so-called “annoyance factor”, the companies have two choices: either reward-based ads to help the gamer by offering lives or level ups in exchange of the ad view; or, integrating their own products to the game, like clothing a virtual doll with existing clothes from real brands.

Kids in the city

Nowadays, cities are evolving in order to respond to the needs of every part of its population, including children: green spaces to minimize the effects of air pollution, playgrounds,… This trend is visible in both urban planning and mobility, as well as in innovative advertising campaigns.

Play Street

playstreet_nycSeveral American or Western European cities such as London and New York City have developed a program called Play Streets where a slection of streets are closed to traffic and dedicated to kids. In New York City, for example, there are two kinds of play streets: normal streets turned into urban playgrounds 5 days a week during the summer season as well as play streets opened to kids during the whole school year. These car-free streets, launched in 1914 by the local Police Athletic League, are the scenes of numerous games and more organized activities. The aim is to provide more urban space dedicated to children and to promote early socialization.


No schools buses, healthier students

cleveland_lakewood_kids_biking_walking_schoolIn the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood, Ohio, all the students can walk or bike to school since the primary, middle and high schools are all less than 1 mile away from their students’ houses. This was made possible thanks to a network of seven elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school, built in a limited perimeter.

Those walks are positive for the children’s health as they help them to concentrate before arriving to school and promote socialization. What’s more, they are financially profitable for the city since the absence of school buses allows the municipality to save $1 million per year.


Street redesign with kids’ imagination

london_victoria_and_albert_museum_of_childhood_campaign_childrenThe Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood, in London, launched an original advertising campaign which enjoined Londoners to “See the world through a child’s eyes”.

The museum and ad agency AMV BBDO looked for unusual or interesting objects, added a child-like drawing to reinterpret them: thus a lamppost becomes a space helmet, a fountain is turned into a whale’s spout…


Greener cities, healthier children

american_national_academy_of_sciences_children_health_green_spacesA study of the American National Academy of Sciences pointed out that the presence of green spaces has a positive effect on children’s brains.

Indeed, it has a positive impact on mental health, attention, mood and working memory as it reduces city noise and stress.

According to the study, green spaces can also boost cognitive outcomes in children—in part by protecting their brains from air pollutants.

Top pro-startup local policies

startup_city_policy_nesta_innovation_top_rankThe British charity Nesta published its “City Initiatives for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship” report that ranks 40 cities according to their capacity to encourage and accompany startups’ development. The charity took into account the cities’ openness to new businesses, the dedicated infrastructures, whether the startups are helped or not…

New York ranks first, followed by London, Helsinki, Barcelona and Amsterdam. In spite of their elevated number of startups, some cities such as Berlin are not present in the top since their dynamism isn’t due to a specific policy of the local authorities.

Light my bike rider’s back!

cyclee_bike_safety_signs_light_mobility_elnur_babayevThe Azerbaijani designer Elnur Babayev conceived a very useful innovation named “cyclee” to prevent the risk of accidents for cyclists. He created a device, attachable behind the bike’s saddle and equipped with captors, able to determine whether the cyclist stop, turn or ride and to project the adequate sign on his back.

Whatever the hour of the day, the automobilist behind the biker can adjust its driving to the biker’s movements.

Feel the temperature before boarding

climate_portal_arlanda_airport_innovation_weatherStockholm Arlanda airport decided to tackle the problem of waiting time with a creative idea. Passengers do not need a plane trip anymore to figure out how it feels to be on the other side of the planet.

Passengers can enter in a “climate portal” which recreates the weather of several destinations around the world: temperature, humidity, wind… From Dubai to the Churchill Falls in Canada or on to Hong Kong, it is an original way to travel before the true departure.

Hidden coffee machines bring people together

Nescafe_street_berlin_push_together_advertising_coffeeTo make the daily walk to the workplace a little more fun, Nescafé created an original advertising campaign bringing people together with a warm cup of coffee in the streets of Berlin. People from both sides of a crosswalk had to “push together” (like the campaign’s name) the button they thought to be a traffic signal.

They could see the person on the other side of the road through a little screen so that they could coordinate the button-pushing. Then the coffee machine started up and filled the cup!

A rainy crosswalk

portland-rain-crosswalk_street_artDesign studio Ampersand Content created two unusual crosswalks representing an umbrella and rain drops to decorate the city of Portland’s roadways. Apart from the aesthetic improvement and artistic value, these new crosswalks are made to increase pedestrians’ safety.

Indeed, taken aback by the originality of the crosswalks, pedestrians are more likely to use them while drivers are more likely to notice them and so, to stop.