Embassy of Safety at DDW

The neighbourhood policeman, the housing association employee, social housing residents, the civil servant of the municipality: when you meet at night, all these officials become human beings too. This results in surprising new behaviour in relation to each other. How do everyday surveillance tools such as WhatsApp groups, Nextdoor and smart doorbell cameras influence the sense of security of people in a neighbourhood? At Dutch Design Week (DDW), the Embassy of Safety is organising a conference and an exhibition in which people from the security domain and designers show ‘surprising safety’ in the neighbourhood and online.

Type Update
Published on 12 October 2021
Part of Embassy of Safety
Embassy of Safety at DDW
Part of Embassy of Safety

Start signal

“The growth of young criminals by criminal drug organisations in specific vulnerable neighbourhoods is alarming,” says Tabo Goudswaard, curator of the Embassy of Safety. “Temptations are great, and the step to brute force is quickly made.” The conference is the starting signal for various municipalities to join forces with designers, neighbourhood police officers, employees of housing corporations and municipal officials, but also people from the care and education sectors, to look for new action perspectives to counter this growth.

Online Ontspoord

Another central theme of the conference is the lack of safety online. “At the beginning of the Internet, we thought it would take care of itself, but now we are seeing more and more derailed behaviour,” says Goudswaard. “Paedo-hunting, phishing, cyber-addiction, revenge porn, disinformation, to name but a few examples.” 

“Even our fundamental rights are at stake on the Internet,” according to the Rathenau Institute’s research ‘Online Ontspoord‘. Goudswaard: “I am very pleased that the institute is prepared to come and present their report and to discuss it with visitors to the Embassy.” Among other things, the researchers identified the underlying mechanisms that contribute to online insecurity. “For example, the anonymity of the user or the Echo Chambers: like-minded people who continue to talk to each other in a bubble.” The conference and expo will showcase a number of successful initiatives in which “unsuspecting individuals” contribute to a safer use of the internet.

The Night Club

In the exhibition, Marjolein Vermeulen and Jaap Warmenhoven, the creators of The Night Club, give an insight into how they manage to create an atmosphere at night in which residents and officials from a neighbourhood can talk to each other. “According to the designers, you first have to display unsafe behaviour in order to feel safe,” says Goudswaard. They first get people out of their comfort zone so that they can then discuss unsafe topics with each other in a safe way. “During the night, the expectations of the professional role disappear and, above all, everyone is just a human being.”

Neighbourhood app

As an example of surprising online safety, the social design project Good Neighbours, which combines live performance, technology and placemaking, is on show at the expo. “The project tackles the risk of social profiling in cities by showing what role online platforms such as Nextdoor and WhatsApp, or smart doorbell cameras such as Ring and Nest play in this.” Good Neighbours is nominated for a Gouden Kalf Digital Culture and the Dutch Design Award, Design Research category.


The conference is on 19 October from 14.00 – 16.00 hours, in the Entresol of the Klokgebouw. Prior to the conference, there will be a themed tour of the festival grounds of Dutch Design Week. During the entire DDW, Embassy of Safety will have an exhibition in the Klokgebouw. For an overview of the programme, visit the Embassy of Safety page.

You can visit the Embassy of Safety from 16 to 24 October in Hall 3 of the Klokgebouw at Strijp-S.


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