A tech company which is developing AI to identify people at risk of committing suicide on the railways has been awarded funding from Innovate UK.

Purple Transform’s ongoing initiative, Project SAIVE – which stands for Suicide Avoidance via Intelligent Video Examination – utilises three different AI-enabled technologies to identify and assess the behaviour of people who could be at risk, alerting staff, mental health professionals and the police to the incident.

Project SAIVE is delivered via Purple Transform’s proprietary AI platform, SiYtE, which extracts and aggregates real-time anonymised data from across entire organisational infrastructures – including from CCTV cameras, IoT sensors and third-party feeds – before using AI and machine learning techniques to analyse and visualise this data in real-time.

The AI is trained to recognise typical behaviours, triggering alerts if it identifies or predicts any anomalies. Compliant with GDPR, the platform is designed to protect the privacy of employees and customers.

Between 2020 and 2021, there were 2,057 suicide attempts and 247 deaths by suicide. Network Rail estimate that each incident costs an average of £1.67m.

Project SAIVE – which Purple Transform is working on in partnership with Govia Thameslink Railway and experts in mental health management and technology at Lancaster University – has been devised to help railway personnel and the police take swifter, smarter action to prevent more lives from being lost.

Gregory Butler, CEO of Purple Transform, said: “We are really proud of our partnership with Lancaster University and Govia Thameslink Railway and pleased it has been recognised by Innovate UK.

“Every vulnerable individual deserves support, and we are committed to developing ethical AI that has a positive impact on society by creating better human outcomes.”

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Dr Mahsa Honary, from Lancaster University Management School, said: “Drawing on previous research on the integration of technology for mental health management and users’ behavioural analysis, we will identify patterns in likely movements and behaviours of extremely vulnerable people in order to effectively train the AI system.

“By programming it with key markers to look out for, we hope to see swift and effective interventions so that more lives can be saved.”

The first method of AI leverages psychology, behavioural science and computer vision algorithms implemented on smart cameras installed throughout stations and along the track.

These cameras are trained to look for indicators of potential suicide attempts. The second method uses deep learning which has been trained on existing footage, to predict and generate risk scores by picking up on certain behaviours.

The third method of AI alerts staff that an incident could be unfolding, providing them with actionable advice on how to proceed. Similar alerts can also be issued to mental health professionals, specially trained railway staff and British Transport Police.

Purple Transform was founded in 2021 and is headquartered in Oxfordshire.

Oto awarded £500k Innovate UK SMART Grant