Brazilian advertising agency NBS and the out-of-home agency Posterscope recently joined forces to create a billboard panel equipped with technology to help stop the spread of Zika virus by way of mosquito extermination.
The Zika virus, so-called for the Ugandan forest in which it was first isolated and spread by the bite of infected Aedes Aegypti species mosquitoes, was recently declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by the World Health Organization (WHO) primarily for its likelihood of spreading to new regions. While Zika’s most common symptoms are mild fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis lasting a few days to a week, the threat level rises exponentially when infection occurs during pregnancy. The virus can easily cause fetal brain defects, most notably microcephaly, which literally refers to babies developing abnormally small heads.
NBS (which appropriately stands for No Bullshit) is a down-to-earth advertising agency known for providing a voice for the people and bridging the gap between brands and favela slums in São Paulo—a veritable breeding ground for Zika and in the country where the initial outbreak began in April 2015. This made them the ideal company to collaborate with Posterscope on this customized OOH billboard—an installation that dispatches hundreds of Zika mosquitoes every day.
How does a poster achieve this feat, you may ask? As the original article on PioneeringOOH.com explained, “It spreads in the air a solution containing lactic acid – which reproduces the smell expelled by the human sweat – and also of CO2, which reproduces the human breathing. The combination of these two substances attracts the mosquito at a distance of up to 2.5 miles.”
In an effort to boost this magnetism, the developers installed fluorescent lights at the top and bottom of the billboard, which then act as insect traps. The initial roll-out of these Mosquito Killer Billboards were chosen based on the number of Zika and dengue fever outbreaks in the area, a sort of global triage approach.
As the video below shows, all the technology and information about billboard settings is now available online (https://www.mosquitokillerbillboard.com) under a Creative Commons NonCommercial-Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International, meaning that anyone can download the specs and reverse engineer the installation for their own cities.
While this billboard may not be exactly what we think of when we think of digital signage, it does represent a kind of out-of-the-box thinking and problem-solving acumen that could and should apply to future digital signage applications. In other words, while information and interaction will always play a major role in the functionality of signage, they will no longer constitute the whole story. From now on, we must think about signage that multitasks by exacting actual change on its physical surroundings.