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Hidden in plain sight: London Transport's Help Points

TfL has fitted Help Points throughout London. I must pass dozens of them on my way into work each day - but only remembered they were there when I went exploring for this challenge. In my contribution, I give more detail on what a Help Point is, and a few variations on it that might work in other settings.

Photo of Audree Fletcher
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[Slight link confusion here: this is my personal take on transportation, urban environemtns and safety.]

The Help Points can be used for information, to seek help, or to raise the alarm in case of emergency. With the green button, you can report disturbances, vandalism, or suspicious activity - and if station staff don't pick up within 30 seconds, your call is redirected to the police. 

Points to consider here:
- deterrent effect heightened because often CCTV is focused on Help Points
- call goes to station staff office, and so they know exactly where you are and you know help is close by. If you need someone on the platform, they can be there quickly
- you don't need to have a smartphone, or indeed any phone, to use it- which is helpful if you've been mugged for said phone
- data can be collected on use of Help Points - so that concerted action could be taken in problem hotspots.

I can imagine two variations on this concept: 
(1) a number that you know to call if you're feeling threatened, that goes through to a central location which itself can connect to the emergency services quickly if needed. At the other end is professionally trained support, offering advice based on your particular circumstances (stay where you are/there's a police car round the corner/don't make eye contact and cross the street);
(2) the same, but one that goes through to a neighbourhood/community watch type organisation. This could have concerned community men volunteering to play "big brother" as necessary, or it could be an organisation set up for and by isolated migrant girls, going for strength in numbers. A locally based call centre could get help to a caller very quickly simply because of its proximity - a volunteer to escort a vulnerable woman home, or to prevent/stop an attack.

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Photo of Meena Kadri

Great extension on something you've noticed closer to home. Thought you might also dig this post: http://www.openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/research/are-emergency-call-boxes-even-useful-anymore Looking forward to where all these musings might lead for our upcoming Ideas phase...