Designing for Social Distance

Tuesday, 26 May, 2020

As we begin to return to a new sense of normality, countries around the world are being challenged to rethink the way they shape their towns and cities to allow for social distancing to take place whilst encouraging more forms of Active Transportation in a post-COVID 19 World.

In the U.K. for example, this has led to the installation of new ‘Pop-up’ cycle lanes, widening of pedestrian paths, introduction of e scooter trials a year ahead of schedule and a general sense of rapid innovation from Local Authorities who are using this opportunity to create a better future which keeps us safe and improves our environment.

At the peak of Lockdown, it was estimated that there was a combined total of more than 3.9 billion people staying at home to stop the spread of COVID-19. That’s roughly half of the population of the entire planet practicing social distancing to help save lives and stop the rapid spread of the virus.

At Viva we have been working closely with the Department for Transport to provide data from our sensor network which is demonstrating record lows in vehicle and pedestrian traffic around the U.K. and therefore, that the Government’s policies are working. This mandated global pause has not only given us a chance to think, but a chance to reflect on our behavior and its impact on the world around us. One of the major changes we have made is that now many people are effectively working from home, which is reducing the number of daily journeys taken and therefore improving the air quality. People are exercising more, improving their Health, and utilising modes of active transportation such as cycling or walking. We all want a cleaner, safer and healthier world for our generation and the next so many are taking this as an opportunity to do something about it.

We are using our AI sensor technology to help our partners achieve those ambitions. The insights gathered from the data we collect are proving to be a valuable asset to Governments and Local Authorities, and our R&D teams have been hard at work to add new capabilities which will help in the response to this pandemic. One outstanding example of this is our work on social distancing and we now have the capability to measure the distance pedestrians are keeping between each other using Artificial Intelligence to monitor the impact of these Government policies.

(Our sensors do not collect personal data, and none of our clients can use our technologies to gather any kind of personal data).

Social Distancing is one of the key ways we can help to ensure a fighting chance against a second wave of infections, and as we move away from the strict lockdown conditions, we must not take this newly found sense of freedom for granted. We have lost so many innocent lives and the sacrifices made by our healthcare workers have been nothing less than heroic, so now it’s our responsibility to make a positive change for our collective futures.

Zachary Judge