Hello world! Meet Piki, the safety alien!

Two days, dozens of safety professionals and compliance specialists, networking and discussions on latest trends, challenges and future prospects – that’s what ICPHSO 2015 International Symposium was all about. We at Tukes saw this as a million dollar opportunity, to introduce to the international audience our little blue safety alien, Piki, who’s already won the heart of so many Finnish children.

But wait – Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency Tukes is attending an international seminar with an agenda to tell people about an alien? Shouldn’t government agencies be talking about market surveillance figures, risk assessment, enforcement practices? Sure, but it’s not enough anymore. We need new ways to keep people safe.

As authorities, we cannot test every single product, we cannot check every possible little company selling consumer goods or providing services. We need also safety-aware consumers, who can make safe choices as part of their everyday life. This is why we need to start to educate even the smallest children. We want our future generations of consumers to be able to take safety measures automatically, as a reflex. We at Tukes with our wonderful partners Demola, Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE, Liikenneturva, Palosuojelurahasto, STEK think we have managed to create something to raise the next generation’s safety awareness: to offer children a fun way to learn about safety, avoid patronizing tone and get the message through without even noticing it. And this brand-new online and app-based children’s safety game is what we want to share with the world.

Piki

So who is this little blue fellow, that we so are so eager to present? Piki is an alien, who’s come to Earth with his friends from the outer space, and he has no knowledge, whatsoever, about any dangers and hazards he may encounter on the Earth. To survive, Piki needs help from the children. Piki’s looking for guidance, as he wants to live here with us, have fun and be safe. You can find Piki on the internet and using mobile devices. Piki has his own room (Pikin huone) on the Pikku Kakkonen (a popular children’s TV show by YLE) mobile app and website, where you can play games and help Piki in tricky situations. Today, there are 15 000 children each week helping Piki to pick up right things to eat, to wear right protective equipment and to take right measures, when the situation calls for actions. By playing with Piki, the children will learn and remember these things in real life.

But how was Piki welcomed to the ICPHSO symposium? On Tuesday afternoon, the seminar attendees spread out for three different breakout sessions, to listen to panelists to discuss different topics. In the session number two, Meeting Consumers’ Needs by Advocating Child Safety Good Practices, I had the honor to present Piki to the audience. I was accompanied by wonderful co-speakers, who all gave their insight in the child safety advocacy. Especially Herdís Storgaard, Program Director of Child Safety House in Iceland, gave an inspiring presentation on their work with child safety: educating parents in a real example home (I would highly recommend looking into the work of the Safety House, it is quite amazing!).

We all agreed that new practices should be introduced to improve child safety. Piki was given the warmest welcome and the interest of his mobile game was immediate: apps were downloaded and website got more hits as the news spread. For me, as a speaker, it was the best possible reception: Piki was loved by not only the Finnish children, but also the international safety professionals! I can’t wait to see, where Piki will end up, as he’s obviously in the beginning of his career as the undercover child-educator professional.

As safety professionals and educators, our future lies somewhere outside the box. We need to find new ways to keep up with the world of developing technology. And for us as a market surveillance authority, it means to find ways to make the best possible use of our limited resources. And once we’ll live in a world with consumers recognizing the usual risks, not favoring unsafe products or services and making safe choices in their everyday life, the authorities will have better resources to fight the bigger threats, investigate the new hazards and target their surveillance better, to make the world even safer place to live – both for us humans and little aliens, like Piki.

Laitinen_RiikkaRiikka Laitinen

Legal adviser
Consumer Safety
Project team member, Piki’s Room