Millions of SIM cards will light up roads around the world

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting the Kids Non-Profit Organization (KNPO) with donor funding for “The SIM Card Initiative” - a road safety project.

We like the simple, smart and innovative solution KNPO provides with the SIM Card Initiative. Also the timing is great for our significant road investments in the Balkans and Kazakhstan, as well as being a nice follow-on activity leading us into the second half of the UN Decade on Action on Road Safety
— Matthew Jordan-Tank, Head of Infrastructure Policy and Project Preparation at EBRD.

Every day, more than five billion people worldwide are involved in traffic, whether it is on foot, a bicycle, as a driver or passenger, including many children. More than 500 children and young adults under the age of 25 are killed in road accidents every day. A large number of these road accidents occur during the evening or dark hours.

How can we reach out to 50% of the world’s population by using existing production and distribution channels? By transforming millions of physical SIM cards into safety reflectors!
— Richard Ahlstrom, Chairman of the Board and Founder of KNPO

The concept is simple: instead of just disposing of the credit card sized plastic once the chip is inserted into the phone, each SIM card has another cut-out which is a safety-reflector. KNPO proposes to use the SIM card as an easy to use and efficient reflector for increasing road safety, especially for children. With the use of reflectors while walking or jogging in the evening, drivers will be able to see pedestrians on the road at five times the distance compared to without, giving drivers crucial time to stop or swerve.

Recycle for safety and the environment.

Last year, ABI Research predicted that 5.4 billion new SIM cards would be shipped during 2015. The transition from 2G to 3G and on to 4G is creating an excellent opportunity for the leading smart card vendors to create a use for the otherwise discarded portion of the SIM card and save lives at close to zero cost. 

By using existing SIM cards we recycle plastic into safety reflectors, saving lives
— Richard Ahlstrom, KNPO

KNPO’s first program has been the development of reflective beads used by children to create necklaces and other accessories which reflect the light when walking on dark roads, making them more visible to drivers. As with the beads initiative, the SIM card project is another practical, low-cost road safety program that can save millions of lives. The solution is simple, effective and non-disruptive to local businesses as well as the environment.

Existing infrastructure and distribution keep costs to a minimum.

During 2016, KNPO will approach leading mobile telecom operators to discuss how they can transform each new physical SIM card into a safety reflector. Selected mobile telecom operators, in collaboration with KNPO, will create a global campaign calling for action to save children’s lives on the roads around the world.

Almost 70 percent of SIM card production is made by 5 vendors, and with the top 10 telecom operators, KNPO will be able to reach over 3 billion subscribers and pedestrians without a need to create a new supply chain or process.

As a member of the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety, KNPO will reach out to the 140 NGO members working in road safety from more than 70 countries around the world, and Youth for Road Safety (YOURS) represents young road safety advocates in 85 countries, promoting “The SIM Card Initiative” in collaboration with mobile telecom operators.

The SIM Card Initiative primary goals are to:

  1. Sensitize the general public to the fact that we have 1.2 million road traffic victims every year
  2. Teach road safety by distributing reflectors to pedestrians
  3. Protect the most vulnerable of road users - the children
  4. Act as a catalyst between telecom operators and NGOs via networks, creating a global road safety campaign

The SIM Card Initiative will primarily focus on the Balkans (where large road investments are being made by EBRD) as a proof of concept. Later we will expand to Africa, then the rest of the world.