Designing for Safety

The Commons. Designed by ADP. - 2019 - Photo by Kimmi Cranes

There are basic interactions that at this point are second nature to us like walking to your car after a long day at work or solo traveling on public transportation. While some people have the luxury of letting their mind wander during these types of daily experiences, others are hyper alert and even fearful through these events.

In the Design Track of the SXSW Conference from March 16-20, we’re spotlighting how design can rethink these occurrences to make them safer for all people. These conversations are right at home among the futuristic product design and design-thinking approaches that happen across various other disciplines, businesses, and organizations.

Design can make everyday interactions safer and, in turn, improve our health. What kind of experiences do you think deserve a redesign? The possibilities are endless.

What’s First Up for a Redesign

Traveling is often uncomfortable. Taking the subway in a new city; navigating airports and the anxieties of flying; or sharing a ride with strangers to save money – getting from point A to B can be overwhelming for everyone. But for women and minorities in particular, these already tense situations can be infinitely worse. Crafting Inclusive Mobility focuses on the challenges that vulnerable passengers face while navigating rideshare, public transit, and air travel – and how we’re using design to tackle these issues as we inch toward the age of autonomy. How can we eradicate fears of traveling alone? How can we consider the different social contexts of safety and their unique requirements? How can we build trust and empathy into news experiences? Jenny Arden (Lyft), Bernadette Berger (Teague), Jenny Duncan (Vancouver Airport Authority), and Christina O’Claire (King Country Metro Transit) seek to answer these questions and more.

Is our blaring modern soundscape harming our health? Cities are noisy places and while people are pretty good at tuning it out on a day-to-day basis, our sonic environments have serious, long-term impacts on our mental and physical health. But while cities have more noise laws than ever, over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, experiencing way too much noise. Join Joel Beckerman (Man Made Music), David van der Leer (DVDL DD), Kate Wagner (McMansion Hell), and Dr. Erica Walker (Boston University School of Public Health) as they discuss how sound impacts everything from productivity and attention to physical well-being in Sound and Cities: Designing for a Better Future. Leave with ideas on how to design for a better sonic future in our urban communities.

What do you do when the issue you care about most has an image problem? To take one example: do a quick Google Image search for “cybersecurity.” It’s all hackers in hoodies and Matrix-style 1’s and 0’s that say nothing about the complex challenges decision-makers in the industry and government are trying to solve. Partnering with global design firm IDEO, the Hewlett Foundation’s Cyber Initiative brought cybersecurity experts together with leading visual thinkers to research the problem and launch an open challenge for graphic designers to reimagine cyber imagery. Reimagining the Visual Language of Cybersecurity explores why effective visuals are critical for building understanding of a complex topic, how experts can best partner with creatives, and what it takes to change the visual language of a whole sector with Mariah Jochai (Craft-O-Graph), Hannah Lennett (IDEO – OpenIDEO), Monica Ruiz (The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation), and Beau Woods (I Am The Cavalry).

Browse More Design Track Sessions

For more sessions that cover the adaptability and utility of purposeful design, browse through the Design sessions.

This Interactive Track gives primary access to Platinum and Interactive Badges while Film and Music Badges enjoy secondary access.

Browse all sessions on the SXSW Schedule and add events to your Favorites list to start planning your SX adventure.

Browse Design Sessions

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Featured Image by Kimmi Cranes

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