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 (the Association of Dutch Municipalities), the Undermining Taskforce, the Dutch National Police, Taskforce-RIEC Brabant-Zeeland and Dutch Design Foundation, we explored 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.
The Embassy of Safety is made possible with special thanks to:
Trimbos Instituut, the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service, the municipalities of Tilburg, Gilze en Rijen, Breda,
Zaanstad, Zoetermeer, Eindhoven, Haarlem, Maastricht, RIEC Limburg, Summa College, University of Twente and the design studios, designers and speakers that contributed to this embassy.
Curator: Tabo Goudswaard
Artist and social designer Tabo Goudswaard is the head of Studio Goudswaard. The studio designs new ways of tackling social issues. It seeks to connect with people’s everyday behaviour and designs new concrete perspectives for taking action produced by and shared with participants. Studio Goudswaard is convinced that designers and artists can play a vital role in shaping societies.