How we motivated Barking & Dagenham residents to be more physically active
Physical inactivity is an epidemic. Its negative impact on the country is undeniable, with research suggesting that the total cost of physical inactivity to the UK economy exceeds £20 Billion.
Many reasons have led to this rise in inactivity over the years, but arguably the most prolific has been the consumer demand for convenience.
“We don’t expend energy doing anything. We’ve actually engineered regular daily physical activity out of our lives. We come to work in almost any vocation and we sit. And we sit for eight hours and then we get up and we sit in the motorcar, you know, in automobile and we go home. When we arrive at home, we sit in front of the television. We have frozen TV dinners. We have pre-prepared, prepackaged food that doesn’t require energy to collect it. We don’t hunt, cook it. It’s mostly just put in microwaves and simple systems.”Prof. Adrian Bauman, Public Health and Epidemiology, University of Sydney.
But, this is all something we’ve all heard before. We know inactivity is bad for the economy. We know that it’s hard to get inactive people moving. And, we know that there are innovative solutions out their which can help. However, what’s often overlooked is how these interventions are delivered. Mass intervention is great – but to create real impact we need mass intervention on a hyper localised scale.
Let me explain…
Every Local Authority is different, from their residents (age, demographic, culture, habits, incentives) all the way through to its physical structure (school routes, drop off times, open spaces). Therefore, it makes perfect sense that what works for one Local Authority might need the flexibility to adapt in another.
What we need is a localised physical activity. E.g. local authorities of the near future need to adopt a relationship-centric, technology led model with their residents. A system that will be great at getting their residents to be more physically active, beyond their relationship with the current leisure Centre’s and local gyms. I believe local authorities adopting the use of existing smart devices owned by residents will be playing a crucial role to reducing inactivity amongst their residents. Achieving this goal will be to all our benefit as a society morally and financially.
This is exactly what we created with Street Tag.
In just 8 weeks, we motivated 415 inactive Barking and Dagenham residents to move more than 4600 miles. How? Through Street Tag – an interactive app that turns places into a virtual tag playground to get inactive people to be more active. It’s by no means been an easy journey, but definitely an exciting one.
You are probably wondering how did the app in practice get inactive people to be active. Simple, we encourage families/residents to create a profile on the Street Tag app; there can be up to 6 players in each team. During the Street Tag intervention weeks, participants record their distance walked by scanning virtual tags with their smartphone at various locations, watching their total distance accumulate to climb up on the local leaderboard, creating competition, being physically active, an opportunity to rediscovering their area, and earning prizes.
Having completed two intervention programmes now in Barking and Dagenham, that ran for 7 weeks and 8 weeks respectively. We are currently enjoying a three-month-long intervention leaderboard challenge in Barking and Dagenham, finishing at the end of February 2019. Already the top leading team has achieved the same amount of miles in the first two weeks, what it took the previous winning team 8 weeks to achieve! Amazing!
We recently started a 500 special reward available for 50 minutes only on Saturdays, what makes this so unique is that we have a special tag touring various parks each Saturday, a great way to get residents/families to visit different parks or sites in their community, this seems to have gone down like a treat with teams/families sending us pictures (see below) voluntarily to celebrate their reward points with us in Barking and Dagenham. We plan to do more of this and potentially to work with local businesses too in the near future, as well as introduce this in other locations that we are going live in. The flexibility and creative possibility of Street Tag is remarkable and it can easily work in any communities.
“This is amazing, it gets you up and out, if you find it hard to motivate yourself street tag is a must, there is always incentives and friendly rivalry” The Goodsons
“Thank you for the update. In the latest patch the location based claiming of tags finally works.” Lauri Auronen
I can confidently say that Street Tag as an intervention to promote a more inclusive community led physical activities can easily be adopted and rolled out in a lot of boroughs, and you can expect the program to be:
- Cheaper and more effective than the alternatives
- Difficult to vandalise
- Better at capturing data over both short and long periods of time
- Able to sustain longer termed activations and commitments from participants
- Accessible to the disabled community
- Flexible, possessing the ability to re-brand, re-launch, and cheaply redirect location routes to fit with different campaigns. It can also easily adapt information that a partner might like to add
- Smarter, having the ability to quickly create new routes
A few bonus features include:
- Street Tag can be used to direct footfall to specific locations and the high streets
- No additional hardware required for participants
- Run up to 4 Street Tag interventions per year
- Longer availability to participants
The Healthy Lifestyle Team of Barking and Dagenham recently carried out an independent evaluation to ask some of the most recent participants of Street Tag what their experience of Street Tag has been like.
These are the reasons why existing participants will continue to take part in Street Tag. Great to see that being more physically active with friends & family, and benefit to health is a strong reason.
If you would like to discuss how Street Tag can be integrated as a health intervention in your local authority or organisation, or to work on a joint bid, we’d like to work with you.
Seun Oshinaike, Founder of Street Tag