Sunderland set to show news on public screens

Sunderland's local strategic partnership has unveiled plans to broadcast public messages via a series of large TV screens in the city.

The organisation is on the hunt for an agency to produce short public information films for the Minority Report-esque project. The films will be shown on large plasma screens in popular public spaces.

‘We wanted to look at ways of reassuring the community and communicate facts. In the past, local media have painted positive stories in a negative light,' said community safety manager Julie Smith.

The project - one of the first of its kind in the UK - will also broadcast emergency information via ‘news flashes', as well as highlight local initiatives, issues and helplines via ‘infomercials'. Core content will be updated
every three months.

The local strategic partnership represents the council, police, local health and fire services, and other bodies. It will produce content around themes such as culture, tourism, the environment, education and healthcare.

The plan follows a similar scheme adopted by crime-prevention agency the Safer Sunderland Partnership, which has installed screens - sponsored by BT - in places such as retailers, restaurants and the local college. Positive public feedback encouraged the LSP to follow suit.

‘Each crime prevention message is played 20,000 times every three months,' said Smith.

She added that the projects will initially run separately, but will be integrated in the future.

The selected agency's brief will span four years, covering responsibility for implementing the network of screens and negotiating their specific locations. The locations of the screens will be decided via a public consultation exercise, handled by the council.

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