In the Embassy of Safety we look at how designers can contribute to current safety issues. This embassy concentrates on research and experimentation and attempts to answer the question ‘Is safety a right?’ by generating practical solutions from multiple perspectives.
We primarily try to create a safe society through policies, laws, rules and protocols. We think of safety as a right. A right that we can claim from companies and executive government bodies, where a strict division of tasks and hierarchical structures applies. We use models based on analyses of objectively measured figures. And in order to guarantee our right to safety in the future, we tend to think in terms of technological applications that generate data and make choices based on algorithms.
And that’s all well and good. But in this systematic world of security, we seem to have lost sight of the human factor. Moreover, our perceptions of safety are extremely subjective and there is no guarantee that entrusting our safety to self-thinking systems will make us feel any safer. Our sense of security depends on trust, emotions and assigning meaning. And that’s precisely the domain that designers know a lot about.
One example of a current safety issue is ‘undermining’: a crime that undermines society’s foundations. This happens when criminals use legitimate systems and services, and the criminal underworld becomes entwined with everyday society. Because of the influence and pressure that criminals can exert on our society, standards become blurred and perceptions of security and quality of life decrease.
In collaboration with our partners, the VNG (Association of Dutch Municipalities), the Dutch National Police, the Undermining Taskforce and the DDF, we explore how we can place the human experience at the centre of how we design safety systems. And at the same time, this will change the attitude that safety is a right and encourage people to think of safety as an experience and a result of joint efforts and shared responsibility.
To find out more about the exhibition and the current programme, visit the World Design Embassies website.