Safe Places: Designing a Safer Australia

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AECOM, the world’s leading infrastructure consulting company, is launching a Safe Places program to develop a design method that creates safer infrastructure and urban neighbourhoods for everyone while also considering the heightened security concerns when utilising public spaces after dark for women and gender-diverse people.

Safe Places use interactive mapping to gather crowd-sourced data on where people are and whether they feel secure or scared. Through PlanEngageTM, AECOM’s digital community engagement platform, the company is enlisting its national 4500-strong team and the general public to pin down safe and unsafe places. More than 500 pins have been added, and anyone can add feedback pins to the map.

Women and gender-diverse people often feel unsafe in public spaces. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, one in four women did not walk alone in their local neighbourhood after dark in the previous year because they felt unsafe; similarly, one in 24 males had a similar experience.

AECOM’s urban design and transport planning experts will study crowd-sourced data, such as lighting, line of sight, foot traffic, maintenance, and passive surveillance information. They will use the information to generate recommendations and best practices for improving safety in places.

Janice Lovelock, a senior engineer at AECOM and wheelchair user, has played an essential role in the Safe Places project: “Designers must create public spaces which break from outdated and generic requirements if we want to enable marginalised groups to have a voice and fully contribute. I am proud to work for a company committed to making this happen.”

“Safety is a fundamental human need, and the design of our cities can play a critical role in making sure everyone feels safe. This is an important step in our journey to make AECOM Australia the safest place to work,” said James Rosenwax, managing director of AECOM Australia and New Zealand.

The program’s launch follows AECOM’s global commitment last year to achieve gender parity by 2025. In Australia, AECOM has committed to achieving a 40 per cent female representation in leadership roles by 2030. It has appointed Lovelock as the company’s first female leader of its national transportation planning practice.

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