September 2022, the ’Belgian Traffic Institute’ disclosed a shocking road safety figure: the number of pedestrians who died in a road traffic accident increased by 169%. Let that sink in… 169%. The main reason? Too many unsafe crosswalks. So, the challenge was clear: the faster we can identify those unsafe crosswalks, the more rapidly we can pressure the authorities to make them safer and decrease the number of fatalities. Which is why ‘Parents of Road Victims’, Belgium’s most influential road safety organisation, decided to use the power of ‘citizen science’ to accelerate pedestrian road safety.
Important information: crossing a street can be too unsafe for many different reasons: the lack of a crosswalk, excessive speed, insufficient lighting, poorly marked crosswalk, poorly maintained, etc.
‘SafeCrossing’ is a web-app that activates all Belgians to voluntarily help identify unsafe crosswalks. The app uses Google street view as a primary layer. On that layer, by placing a digital crosswalk, everybody could indicate what they perceive to be a pedestrian danger spot. As the crosswalk is digitally placed, the algorithm detects boundaries, and a custom tool allows users to position it in the right perspective. After that, the public could also indicate what exactly needs to be addressed at that specific spot.
Important note, not explained in the case: all digitally placed crosswalks are made from names of real children who died in an accident while crossing the street. The names of those children were a symbolically strong part used to call out Belgians to participate.