A Deep Learning Approach to Identify Unhealthy Advertisements in Street View Images


While outdoor advertisements are common features within towns and cities, they may reinforce social inequalities in health. Vulnerable populations in deprived areas may have greater exposure to fast food, gambling and alcohol advertisements, which may encourage their consumption. Understanding who is exposed and evaluating potential policy restrictions requires a substantial manual data collection effort. To address this problem we develop a deep learning workflow to automatically extract and classify unhealthy advertisements from street-level images. We introduce the Liverpool 360∘ Street View (LIV360SV) dataset for evaluating our workflow. The dataset contains 25,349, 360 degree, street-level images collected via cycling with a GoPro Fusion camera, recorded Jan 14th–18th 2020. 10,106 advertisements were identified and classified as food (1335), alcohol (217), gambling (149) and other (8405). We find evidence of social inequalities with a larger proportion of food advertisements located within deprived areas and those frequented by students. Our project presents a novel implementation for the incidental classification of street view images for identifying unhealthy advertisements, providing a means through which to identify areas that can benefit from tougher advertisement restriction policies for tackling social inequalities.

Scientific Reports