Tag: safety

The Hostile World for Women


Pic: source
 
The men among you might be able to relate to this.
 
Think of the last time you attended a conference or had to commute for a duration of over 30 minutes. And rather than drive or take a bus or train, you Uber or Ola it there and back.
 
How often might you have dozed off in the cab?
 
I have on plenty of occasions.
 
Doing so is probably not too safe even for us men. But you can relate to this scenario. Unless you are on a call or browsing, or chatting with the driver; there’s a good chance you’ve been generally sleepy. Even more so if it is sunny or gloomy outside, making it a struggle to keep awake in the cab.
 
We do wake up refreshed though; ready for whatever tasks await us.
 
Now, imagine those same instances as a woman.
One would imagine it is far more unsafe for her. Which means she needs to resist that overwhelming nap in the cab that we men would struggle to resist.
 
Imagine an hour or more of commuting. Imagine needing to stay awake, only because you are a woman. Only because the world remains disproportionately more unsafe for you.
 
During engineering, I used to have a little over an hour of commuting each, to and from college. A 5-minute local bus ride for about 2 kilometers, and then an hour on an express bus flying for a good part on a national highway.
 
One afternoon, when getting back from college, I remember being sleepier than usual. So I dozed off for a while. After getting off at my stop, and getting into the local bus, I sat on an aisle seat on the left. Next to me on the window seat was an elderly man.
 
Still drowsy, I nodded off, and my head unintentionally bobbed off this old man’s shoulder. Awoken by the jolt, without looking up, I apologized to this person. Still struggling to stay awake, I nodded off again.
 
And again, along the twisty roads, my head hit his shoulder. Again, with eyes half open, I apologized, before opening my eyes wide open to try and stay awake. But before I knew it, I had drifted off, only to wake up after the next jolt between head and shoulder. 😛
 
I wondered how come this old man was so tolerant of this invasion of his space. As I turned to apologize, I realized he was fast asleep too, head bobbing slightly with the movement of the bus.
 
It is a different situation if a a woman is sitting beside another woman in public transport. But otherwise, this lowering of one’s guard and allowing oneself a few zzz’s in the face of exhaustion is an improbable scenario for most women. She would not feel safe to allow herself to catch a few zzz’s. Even on the most scorching afternoons on a bus filled with strangers she is instinctively programmed to be alert about.
 
In a generally hostile world, imagine the toll this resisting of sleep, or the need to be on alert all the time, puts on the average woman’s attentional space.
 
Now imagine how making the world safer, could do wonders to the attentional space of millions of women.
 
An attempt to create a safer world has many dimensions to it.
From educating us men from childhood, to creating safe environments and neighbourhoods. And creating less-taxing processes and experiences.
 
Indian queues have been something of an amusement for decades. How we generally struggle to create straight lines, but would rather flock over a counter. That experience for most of us men, though mildly stressful, is only one of ensuring no one cuts the queue before you.
 
For a woman, it is a far more horrifying experience. It often is about having strange men far too close in her personal space. She is not just concerned about losing a few spots in queue. Her mind is most likely in a state of high alert. Scared she might be pushed off balance, or touched, or pick-pocketed. Not a pleasant state for anyone to be in.
 
A lot of us have either mentioned or found amusing, how women go to the loo in pairs or groups. There are those of us who only need to slide down a zipper and go. We can never fully understand the challenge a poorly lit toilet or approach presents to a woman. Nor the lack of a hook for a purse, an empty toilet paper roll, or a working latch on the door presents to a woman.
Pic: source
 
Years ago, as a male teen growing up in India, I have done my share of urinating in public. Not exactly in public, but say into a field on the side of a highway and such. Not proud of it. In fact over the years, I’ve been increasingly ashamed of it.

Many years ago as a student, I was on a bus traveling between two states. The bus stopped in a small town, and many of us passengers stepped out to relive ourselves. On one edge of the bus stand, beyond an open gate, was a swamp.

Since there were far more people than toilets, and given the short duration of the stop, the teenage me headed toward the swamp. A few elders standing along the path to the swamp figured the obvious reason I was headed there. In an animated manner, they seemed to caution me using a word in the language of the state. They kept repeating it. I was familiar with the word. In my limited vocabulary, it meant swamp or small water body or something. I smiled and waved them a friendly ‘don’t worry about it’ and walked past, stood on the edge of the swamp and got to it.

During the rest of the journey, the word of caution from those villagers kept playing in my head. That’s when realization hit that there also exists an almost identical, phonetically slightly different word in the same language. One that translated to water snake! So much for risky relieving business.

But unlike that incident, even the most normal seeming public toilets (including the ones at malls) can seem equally daunting for women. From lights not working, to male staff being assigned to clean them, it is no less scary than the risk of those water snakes.

Imagine the world of a difference between someone able to relieve oneself when necessary; to someone needing to hold it in till she gets to a more accommodating place.
 
Now imagine how making the world safer and being considerate and thoughtful, could do wonders to the lives of millions of women.
 
Educate. Be considerate. Design safer and more thoughtful spaces and processes.
Pic: source
 
#women #safety #AttentionalSpace #design #DesignThoughtfully #processes

Towards a Better Mask – 3

An internal project under Rattl has been to try create a better mask for the (Covid) times.

While it is possible we fail to actually create an ideal one, the exercise so far has been a learning one.

This is post #3.

Post 1 listed some basic criteria and good to have features that served as guidelines/constraints and some initial sketches.

Post 2 factored in all the basic criteria and most of the ‘good-to-have’ features, in that it was transparent (though slightly off the mark) and had reasonably good circulation.

Based on the basic criteria, good-to-have features and general observation of regular folk preferring a handkerchief to a mask (walking through markets, handkerchiefs seem to be a preferred choice, especially for those needing to wear it all day), the next prototype has the following:

  • Addresses all basic features (though I didn’t have the time to cut out a section so it fits better around the nose)
  • Safety (basic criteria) is far higher than a handkerchief
  • Regarding ‘good-to-have’ features, it wasn’t transparent, but circulation was probably better than with handkerchiefs

What it is, is a section (slightly less than half) of a takeaway plastic soup bowl between the folds of a regular handkerchief.
Used a mini vice to hold the bowl in place, and cut it with a rotary tool.

Since a good number of people prefer a handkerchief (possibly due to convenience and affordability), but are probably not aware of the limited safety provided, this design simply offers a safer handkerchief.

Strings from the bowl (how about call it mask henceforth? 😁) run along the ends of the handkerchief folded in half (how people normally fold it before tying).
How it is different or safer than regular handkerchiefs, is the plastic over the nose and mouth section prevents any direct spit/particles from anyone nearby landing on the handkerchief from passing right through.

The bulge creates breathing room, something both handkerchiefs and regular masks don’t offer, and which is what causes a lot of people to slide them down or stop wearing them – the suffocation.

The small breathing space offered by the curvature of the bowl makes it more comfortable to wear, and the bottom section of the handkerchief can be partly folded into the bottom section of the mask, to allow for better ventilation while not giving direct exit to any germ from the user.

Let me know what you think!

Previous post Towards a Better Mask – 2

Dr Jagadish Rai – A Hero who stood between us and the virus

 
Dr. Jagadish Rai
 
My friend’s father, Dr. Jagadish Rai, a 70-year old obstetrician and general practitioner passed away recently.
 
Despite an underlying leukemia, and obviously not officially assigned to Covid duty due to his age and medical condition, he saw patients through the lockdown, many of whom were Covid positive.
 
Given his keenness to help his patients, he followed several safety measures – restricted social contact, even isolated himself at home, apart from taking the necessary regular precautions.
 
Unfortunately, he contracted Covid from a 28-year old patient (who came to him coughing blood, and who passed away within a day of testing positive). And despite contracting Covid and being hospitalized, in the days leading up to Dr. Rai’s death, he continued attending to patients on call until he got too breathless to be able to.
 
For an unknown virus that has kept even far younger and healthier doctors away from the risk if they had that choice, Dr. Rai is from a rare breed of bravehearts whose sense of purpose and duty was far bigger than the virus, bigger than our collective fears, and bigger than our collective carelessness.
 
So the next time any of you are stupid enough to think it’s okay to step outside without a mask, or remove the mask while in public, whether for a picture or to talk; think of Dr. Rai.
 
Selfless people like him sacrificed their lives to save us from health issues and the virus; not so that we could be stupid enough to knowingly run toward the virus despite such a great sacrifice.
 
Read about him here.

Anti-Crime Balls

Anti-crime colour balls

Imagine you are a store manager, and a masked thief has you at gun or knife-point, asking you to empty the cash into his or her bag. How would you recognize the thief outside in a crowd of people? Especially if he or she had an accomplice, and the bag exchanged hands?

Or imagine if a home or bank, or the ATM or even the ATM cash van is being attacked by one or more robbers. Depending on if they have covered their faces, and on how well-lit or dark it is outside, you may or may not be able to recognize the culprits, even if they were in front of you in a police line-up.So what might help in such a situation

Surprisingly, the Japanese have had a solution for over two decades. And a very simple yet innovative one. They have been using baseball sized balls made out of colour pigment. The compound has a shelf life of a few years

Banks and other medium-to-high risk places have them at the counters. In case of a robbery, the employee at the desk merely throws a ball at the thief. The balls break on impact, spraying the colour over a 10 meter radius area. And the colour does not wash off easily, so the police or others would be able to recognize them relatively easily, even in a crowd.

So while even the sight of these anti-crime colour balls sitting in a bowl at a counter were a huge crime deterrent, it was found that whenever a crime occurred, the chances of the attendant throwing one at the criminal (perhaps for fear for their own safety), only about 3% actually threw it.

Even if this innovative solution does not find actual human use, imagine its applications. They could be used as part of automated systems that deploy these upon people crossing restricted or cordoned off areas. Or in case of suspicious activity around ATMs or protected areas.

More about it here: source

If you own, manage or work at a company, and are grappling with a complex challenge or are in need of innovation for growth, get in touch. More here.

And you might find my book, ‘Design the Future’ interesting. It demystifies the mindset of Design Thinking. Ebook’s on Amazon, and paperbacks at leading online bookstores including Amazon & Flipkart.

SUV Drivers – Look Out

India has seen an almost meteoric rise in the number of SUVs and compact-SUVs in the last few years. Perhaps the size fits in well with our gradually growing economy, disposable incomes, and egos. Among things that haven’t grown, is our sense of driving and responsible presence on the road.

India’s roads are getting more dangerous. And the higher seated position makes it tougher for SUV drivers to see, especially around the vehicle. Add to this the narrow, blocked or poorly-lit (and therefore unsafe) footpaths/ sidewalks, and you have more and more pedestrians choosing to walk on roads instead.

This is why it becomes even more important for pedestrians walking with small children, to keep them on your side that is away from the traffic. This also means moving them from one side to the other on dividers, when crossing bi-directional traffic. Or carrying them when crossing roads. It is tough enough for drivers of hatchbacks and sedans, thanks to the lack of lane discipline and distracted pedestrians. But it will be more dangerous if pedestrians bank on just the cautiousness of SUV drivers, given their limited proximity view from their high seats. And slightly more so with women drivers.

Sources said the observations will be given to the civic authorities to help them improve roads.

Source: link

The image above shows how you should never cross the road when accompanying children. You should be between the children and oncoming traffic.

Here’s an older post highlighting the risk [link here]

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Ryan International school – Are CCTVs the Best Solution?

Ryan International school – Are CCTVs the Best Solution?

5 min. read.

When faced with a problem, ideally, we should get to the source of the problem first. Only then can we attempt to solve it. But of course, we all know that!

And yet, almost always, we will first react to a problem by attempting to solve it with the first innovative seeming available. And what a sense of accomplishment it brings! Does it solve the problem? It might, or not. It sometimes might get you to believe the problem is solved, only for the problem to transform into another one.

To put it crudely, problems are like rats trying to get in. You can’t prevent them from entering a place by fixing the only opening you see. Because they’ll find another way. You need to know why they’re coming, and identify all the openings available to them, and fix that!

Consider the recent horrific murder of a student at Ryan International school.
There has been a petition doing the rounds, requesting for a law to enforce installation of CCTVs at schools, with viewing access to all parents. It does sound logical (if not somewhat creepy). But is it a great solution?

Of course CCTV cameras help. Not only by hopefully preventing such horrific crimes, but also helping a tab on the children, ensuring they’re not doing anything they shouldn’t be.

But as quickly as the solution of CCTV cameras comes to mind after any crime, one should know that their effectiveness is limited by the need of people to monitor it, and the constant, undivided attention of those people who are monitoring it. That is, if a crime is to be prevented. As per doctors, the young boy was dead within 2 minutes of the attack. CCTV cameras do have a deterrent effect. But the fact that the school in this case already had them, functioning or not, meant the criminal was not ‘deterred’.

So are CCTV cameras our holistic solution to prevent such gruesome crimes? I don’t think so.

Tight security at home, before 1 am on night

When I was in school, almost another lifetime ago, times were far safer. Employees listened, followed rules. And perhaps fewer people were as sinister as they are today. My school had a few smaller gates within the premises, giving access in different directions. However, there was a strict protocol when it came to those gates.

Parents, relatives and drivers who came to pick up students, were only allowed up to a second smaller gate inside. Both gates were guarded. All other internal access gates were either locked at all times, or kept open only at certain times (around breaks, etc.). And I don’t think the smaller access gates were ever open when the main gate was. This prevented any outsider from entering the premises.
A simple process. But effective.

It didn’t need anyone constantly monitoring (except the guards).

However safe one might feel about CCTV cameras, monitoring them is arguably among the dullest jobs in the world. Requiring constant alertness; a tough ask of the average human staring at a screen. Even worse now, with smartphones and easy access to entertainment. Automated monitoring with hostility detection, that would be safe. But I’m currently clueless on the degree of advancement in that space. Cost and mass-implementation would be a different story, at least at the moment.

But that said, we need to still work on the basics. Identify sources, causes, weaknesses. And fix them with simple but effective measures, not just with readily available solutions that seem perfect.

The advantage with having a process like the one above, of securing different boundaries, is firstly its effectiveness and simplicity. But more importantly, the entire staff is involved in the process. So you, as a staff member, know what gates should be closed at what times, and why. If a gate is left open, you’d spot it instantly, because you are as concerned about the safety of your students as any parent would be. And you are much more likely to alert those in charge, and not merely go about your routine assuming cameras and people monitoring it have it covered. Of course, it would take more than a miracle to protect children, when owners of the school themselves were so careless and indifferent about security.

Incidents like the one above are deadly serious, and merely assuming a plug-&-play solution will fix it, and more importantly, not create more/different security or safety problems, is what one should be more concerned about.

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Step Up – Escalators Are Dangerous

Escalators at the Copenhagen Metro

Most of us have used escalators at malls, in office buildings and at airports. And we have surely seen that nervous person standing at one end of it, caught in a mental conflict of whether to step on it or not.

While some of us have been mildly amused by that person, their fear is, in fact, more than justified.

Escalators aren’t as safe as a lot of us have come to assume they are. In 2013, there were 12,260 escalator-related injuries and deaths in the US. Of those, children and senior citizens comprised over 60% of the victims. [source]

The web is filled with horrific accidents involving escalators. I just saw this one a short while earlier. Apart from being really tragic, it serves as a strong reminder to parents, to get their heads out of their phones and out of distracting conversations when accompanied by young kids.

A Suggestion

Given the obvious risks associated with escalators, what if malls and other buildings with escalators installed a barricade at the two ends, right in front of the handrails? Just something that doesn’t move easily, and is about ~3.5 feet high. Something shaped like cricket shin pads perhaps? While it won’t reduce risks due to collapsing of linked steps or landing sections, or wandering kids going up or down the escalator, it will prevent accidents due to handrails themselves.

It’s not just kids

Back in college, I was once hanging out with friends at a mall, when one of them, while talking to us and walking backwards near an escalator. He continued talking while unknowingly leaning back onto the escalator’s handrail at the top. Before we could even realize what was happening, the conveyor and handrail had managed to pick up my friend, and he was backwards, on his way down, atop the handrail. Thankfully we managed to pull him off at the top.

Obviously toddlers are not the only ones at risk with the handrails. Friction between rubber handrails and a person’s body or clothes creates considerable grip. And conveyors are powerful enough to lift even an overweight adult.

We users really need to be careful while on or around escalators. And it is high time manufacturers started thinking of ways to make escalators safer.

Stir Up a Hornet’s Nest

Here’s another product review.

I recently bought the a horn for my bicycle. The Hornit.

Hornit [the company], interestingly, is founded by a lawyer (yeah, cool huh?!) who felt the need for a loud horn while riding to and from work. He tested his first  prototype back in ’07, and it was only in 2011 that he got into it full-time with Hornit.

And what is Hornit? It is the world’s loudest bicycle horn. At a deafening 140 decibel, it does warn the average zombie behind the wheel who is about to drift or cut in front of you while you’re cycling. Or, like the Hornit people mildly puts it, “it gives the cyclist greater control over their safety, rather than passively hoping to be seen.”

I’ve tried it out, and it works. And well. You do feel a lot safer using it,  compared to other bicycle ‘bells’ by leading manufacturers that are barely audible even to the cyclist, let alone a vehicle a short distance away.

The horn itself is louder than the average car horn, so drivers do take notice, and while it might take them a few seconds to realize that a bicycle under 14 kg. sounded that piercing horn, it gives you sufficient space to pass through.

Hornit - 1

It has two sound modes (140 dB & 130 dB) for riding and parking. The sounds themselves aren’t very cool, one sounding like a bird, and the other just a deafening beep. Personally I would have definitely preferred an air-horn kind of sound (the ones used on trains or large trucks). But that said, the Hornit more than delivers on its basic purpose. It’s sleek, unconventional and good to look at, too. The horn button can be placed at a convenient position on the handlebar. The quality of the button’s elastic locking mechanism isn’t too great, but all in all, the Hornit is a great product and a must-have for any cyclist.

[4.75/5] For serving its basic purpose well, for the cool name, for a good speaker design  and ergonomic button.

And if you’re wondering what it sounds like, aufhorchen baby.!

Delhi Police – Grow a Brain

To the Degenerate Idiots in the Delhi Police,

Politicians sisters, daughters, mothers and wives do not get raped. They are totally unaffected and could not care less about what is happening around the streets and alleys of their country.

It was your lack of responsibilities that led to the gruesome incident on Dec 16, 2012. And yet, you blindly follow orders from higher ups and use water cannons and lob tear gas shells on unarmed protesters, who include ladies and children.

Try growing a brain when it comes to deciding what is right and what is not, and acting accordingly.

TV channels showed even a 13 year old kid protesting. If even kids know the difference between right and wrong, what is wrong with you all?

What would you have done if that 23 year old was your daughter? Would you have been part of the protest? Or would top officials have given mindless orders, you would have scratched your butts, said yes sir, and gone firing water cannons at your family members?

So while our corrupt politicians are a bunch of soulless pussies, always remember, you are all a part of the common public, for whom the protest is happening. The protesters are fighting for a right for the safety of your wives, mothers, sisters and daughters as well.

Sincerely,

Disappointed and Angry citizens of India

Delhi - 22 Dec 2012 - Protest

Fly-by-satire

Today, another MIG-21 crashed in Haryana. Thankfully the pilot was safe and apart from a big ass crater in a field, there was no major damage.

With 6 MIG-21 crashes in this year alone, the IAF has lost over 100 pilots in 283 accidents between 1993 and 2002. Till date it has lost over half the 976 MIG-21 fleet in air crashes. The Indian Air Force seems to have an innovative method of retaining only the best pilots. Send them all up in MIG-21s, if they survive, they must be damn good or bloody lucky.

The world has moved on to the fifth generation fighters with Short Take-off & Vertical Landing, Stealth, Internal weapons, the works, and yet we’re hell bent on sticking to flying coffins from the 1960s.

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