It’s not as naive as it sounds. It’s without a doubt a creative part of typical smart cities. Roughly a smart city’s a fully digitalized city with better citizen services and a minimal use of unnecessary resources. Sensors which are sensitive to motion and/or light and as a result make drastic differences in energy use, for example. A smart city’s also aiming towards being more safe and better connected. Kings Cross (Sydney) struggled with violence, vandalism and antisocial behavior during night time. The Sydney based firm named (wait for it) Designing Out Crime Research Centre used design, light and methods used at festivals to activate another atmosphere. Designed buses, apps and maps were created as well to make it into a safer area. You can call the light and design manipulative. Superficial. That it’s sugar coating our psychological impressions of certain streets. What does it matter, however, if it works. The violence and vandalism went down. That’s what’s so beautiful with proof, you can’t argue against it.

Project illustration. Photo credit: designingoutcrime.com

It’s often the psychological fear of darkness and/or lack of color that’s the foundation to why we avoid certain streets or areas during night time. Colors and light do make an impact on the psyche, if it’s a positively or negatively impact depends only on the combination. The light installation designed by Herman Kujier in Holland is permanent and used in a tunnel. In other words it’s used in a “corridor”-space which also tends to be a somewhat avoided kind of space during night due to the lack of light tendency or a claustrophobic box feeling. Vertical lines give the illusion of a higher ceiling, and the contrasts between shadows and the two different LED-colors are associative to an artistic playfulness.

Designing out crime
Public light installation by Herman Kuijer. Photo credit: wallpaper.com

On the other hand, you do have streets and areas that actually become more dangerous during months, ages or centuries due to the atmospheric vibe. One of the reasons to this regard maintenance, which brings us to the broken windows theory. If a window is smashed and time goes by without it being fixed, it visually represents an indifference and carelessness. Then two windows are smashed. Then tagging (as in the certainly not the artistic graffiti pieces but a super lame word) appears. The street can go from being a regular street, to being a street which attracts Badass number 1 and Badass number 2. As well as becoming the main reason to why people in general tend to avoid it. Should’ve fixed that window.