Urban Senses

Recommendations for sense influencing applications in the public domain.

Urbanization and security

The coming years global urbanization will increase prominently. If the current tendency towards global urbanization persists, the population in cities will be doubled in 2050. As a result, 75 percent of western European citizens will live in an urban environment. This accumulation of people in increasingly small spaces will often incite irritation and intolerance and moreover a general perception of danger and criminal intent. Surveys show that in densely populated areas at least 1 out of 3 citizens feels unsafe on a regular basis.

The public space, and particularly the “message” transmitted by physical surroundings, has an acute effect on the perception of safety and, generally, the behavior of people. Keeping this observation in mind, it is important to equip the public space with messages that positively influence public behavior.

Sense influencing applied to forward a positive message through physical surroundings

Our senses are awash in stimulants of our surroundings. The bulk of these stimulants (95%) is perceived subconsciously, but acutely effects our mood and, subsequently, our behavior. So, first off, we need to investigate what kind of message the physical surroundings emit and how this influences our senses. A positive message will not only induce a firmer perception of safety, but also promotes positive public behavior. We feel more at ease in our surroundings and that directly influences our behavior!



A good example of a negative message through physical surroundings.


Urban Senses
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