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Missing persons billboards will use new technology to become more memorable

EMBARGOED TO WEDNESDAY MAY 25, 0001. Undated handout photo issued by missing persons of the Alexander Sloley billboard in Westfield, London. Missing Persons posters and billboards have been revamped, and experts have turned to science and technology to make them more memorable. The charity Missing People hopes the changes will maximize the chance the public will engage with the posters and take action. Issue date: Wednesday May 25, 2022. PA Photo. The redesigned posters contain less information — which researchers suspect sometimes bombard people — and feature 3D images and smiling faces that are said to be more memorable and more likely to create an instant connection with passers-by. See PA story SCIENCE Missing. Photo credit should read: Felicity Crawshaw/Missing People/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only to accompany the depiction of any event, thing or person depicted in the photo or any fact mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

The Missing People billboard featuring Alexander Sloley in Westfield, London. (Credit: PA)

Missing Persons posters and billboards have been revamped, and experts have turned to science and technology to make them more memorable.

The charity Missing People hopes the changes will maximize the chance the public will engage with the posters and take action.

The redesigned posters contain less information – which researchers suspect can sometimes bombard people – and feature 3D images and smiling faces that are said to be more memorable and more likely to create an instant connection with passers-by.

After a decade of the old format, perhaps the most striking difference is the absence of the word “MISSING”.

This has been replaced with the more active phrase “HELP FIND” because research has shown that people are more likely to engage when presented with a clear call to action.

The new posters, which provide details of currently missing people, will appear on billboards across London on May 25 to mark Missing Children’s Day and the new format will be used by the charity for all future posters.

They also include a QR code to encourage passers-by to use social media and spread the word on their networks and background maps of where the person was last seen.

This is because people around are more likely to respond to the call to action.

EMBARGOED TO WEDNESDAY MAY 25, 0001. Undated handout photo issued by missing persons of Leah Croucher's Before and After Leah Croucher Missing Posters. Missing Persons posters and billboards have been revamped, and experts have turned to science and technology to make them more memorable. The charity Missing People hopes the changes will maximize the chance the public will engage with the posters and take action. Issue date: Wednesday May 25, 2022. PA Photo. The redesigned posters contain less information — which researchers suspect sometimes bombard people — and feature 3D images and smiling faces that are said to be more memorable and more likely to create an instant connection with passers-by. See PA story SCIENCE Missing. Photo credit should read: Felicity Crawshaw/Missing People/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only to accompany the depiction of any event, thing or person depicted in the photo or any fact mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

The before and after design of the missing posters showing Leah Croucher. (Credit: PA)

According to Missing People, around 70,000 children and young people are reported missing in the UK each year and many more go unreported.

Claire Croucher is the mother of Leah Croucher, one of the missing people from the new posters.

She was 19 when she went missing on February 15, 2019 in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

Ms Croucher said: “One of the many challenges of being a parent of a missing person is communicating who you have lost.

“We think that if the public understood who our daughter is, they would be more likely to remember seeing or meeting her.

“To see Leah’s face move and smile on these amazing new posters is wonderful and gives us renewed hope that Leah – and other missing people like her – will be reunited with their families.”

EMBARGOED TO WEDNESDAY MAY 25, 0001 Undated handout photo issued by Missing People of the Leah Croucher billboard at Westfield, London. Missing Persons posters and billboards have been revamped, and experts have turned to science and technology to make them more memorable. The charity Missing People hopes the changes will maximize the chance the public will engage with the posters and take action. Issue date: Wednesday May 25, 2022. PA Photo. The redesigned posters contain less information — which researchers suspect sometimes bombard people — and feature 3D images and smiling faces that are said to be more memorable and more likely to create an instant connection with passers-by. See PA story SCIENCE Missing. Photo credit should read: Felicity Crawshaw/Missing People/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only to accompany the depiction of any event, thing or person depicted in the photo or any fact mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

The Leah Croucher billboard in Westfield, London. (Credit: PA)

The scientific research on which the new posters are based was compiled by behavioral research experts Influence at Work, led by Steve Martin, Faculty Director of Behavioral Sciences at Columbia University Graduate Business School.

Behavioral science consultant Anita Braga, who led the research, told the PA news agency: ‘Very often people want to act but they feel they don’t have the means to do it, they might feel a bit overwhelmed by the situation and by doing it tell them “help us” find them instead of being “missed”.

“Giving a clear call to action makes them feel empowered and empathize with the person they are looking for.

“And then the second thing is the image – we’ve really worked on improving the image clarity and making it feel like there’s actually a person behind the image.”

Ms Braga explained that her review of the available research found that a clear call to action helps people feel less scared and overwhelmed and more ready to act.

Mr Martin said: “Changing those words ‘missing person’ to ‘help find’ turns this message from a passive to an active message and breaks through the everyday information noise.

“And then clarifying and using some intelligent software to increase the definition of that image, which is often a grainy, pixelated cellphone image, and make it much clearer.”

He told PA: “It takes a whole village to find a missing person – not a single person somehow motivated to do it.

“Even if a few dozen additional people see this picture they connect with it, they feel some empathy for it, that could make all the difference and it could help a family whose whole life has not only been disrupted but destroyed they don’t know where her loved one is.’

The other two children on the posters are Finn Layland-Stratfield and Alexander Sloley.

EMBARGOED TO WEDNESDAY MAY 25, 0001. Undated handout photo issued by missing persons of the Finn Layland-Stratfield billboard in Westfield, London. Missing Persons posters and billboards have been revamped, and experts have turned to science and technology to make them more memorable. The charity Missing People hopes the changes will maximize the chance the public will engage with the posters and take action. Issue date: Wednesday May 25, 2022. PA Photo. The redesigned posters contain less information — which researchers suspect sometimes bombard people — and feature 3D images and smiling faces that are said to be more memorable and more likely to create an instant connection with passers-by. See PA story SCIENCE Missing. Photo credit should read: Felicity Crawshaw/Missing People/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only to accompany the depiction of any event, thing or person depicted in the photo or any fact mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

The Finn Layland Stratfield billboard in Westfield, London. (Credit: PA)

Finn was 17 when he disappeared in Tintagel, Cornwall on 8 July 2017 while Alexander has been missing from Islington, London since 2 August 2008 when he was just 16 years old.

Jo Youle, executive director of Missing People, said: “When it is appropriate to make public the disappearance of a person, our appeals are an extremely important means of reaching the public and helping to find children.

“We hope that by introducing innovation, the new calls will have an even greater impact and result in the people featured being sure to be found.”

The photos used in the posters were first enhanced with machine learning software by Engine Creative in collaboration with Untold Studios, and then animated using groundbreaking AI technology developed by D-ID.

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/05/25/missing-person-billboards-will-adopt-new-tech-to-become-more-memorable-16699797/ Missing persons billboards will use new technology to become more memorable

Justin Scacco

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