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The Sound of Safety

The Hills are Alive, with the Sound of...Safety? As you walk through the boulevard of Lancaster, California you'll hear birds chirping, water streaming, and piano notes echoing not only to sooth your stroll but to calm would-be criminals. The soundscape was used to deter minor criminal activity along the main street in downtown Lancaster. Minor crimes dropped in Lancaster by 15% that year. Also, research about which types of music have a calming effect contributed by Shelby Goodman

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Probably not all of that crime reduction is attributed to the new soundscape, but sounds and music can have legitmate emotional/behavioral effects on people listening.  You'd be hard-pressed to find a Yoga class blasting heavy metal right? Or conversely, start a mosh-pit at an Adele concert.  How can we harness this emotional response to elicit safety and community-building in urban environments?

3/14/14 - Fellow OpenIDEOer Shelby also contributed this study: "which explains which types of music are calming for the mind, suggested that choosing music with rhythms slower than your natural heart rate as well as cyclical or familiar music have great benefits for calming an individuals mind."
Link here:

-What soundscapes can be created to develop an aura of safety and also calm would-be harm-doers?
-How can soundscapes further amplify safespace, safe passage analog designs such as walking hubs, community walking paths, buddy programs?



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Wow, Ryan - thinking about the intentional sounds in our surroundings, especially concerning safety, has really sparked new thoughts for me! Sound is so subtle and also so profound.

...which leads me to thinking about scents and fragrances. Marketers have known for a long time that scents can encourage consumption – we all know what the smell of popcorn in movie theaters does for movie-goers, etc. etc.. I've even read about that new car smell, manufactured and bottled to encourage our appreciation of a new car... and hopeful investment!

I wonder are there smells and scents that we can recreate to trigger calming sensations and responses in our environments? Is there even research on this?

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Ivy - There's quite a bit of research actually from some quick searches I found. You're right there is a lot of research on scents affecting shopping habits (orange is the way to go)
Here's an even more relevant article about scent's where a jail in the Netherlands pumped orange aromas throughout the ventilation systems for a four week study and reduced aggression and fighting in the cells.
All our senses really affect safety, how can we use all five to the advantage of urban safety? Excited to see what ideas come up in the next phase!

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