Apropos the security situation in London: “Loss of life might have surpassed the 2,700 killed in the attack on the twin towers in New York five years ago. “This was our 9/11,” a British security source said.
It’s a good thing that a lot of people were not blown up yesterday. Sadly, our security services were unable to prevent the deaths of 20,000 people last year on Europe’s roads. That’s seven 9/11s in a single year. As I wrote here yesterday the death toll from the Madrid bombings represented twelve days of death on Spanish roads.
Yesterday’s plotters, say ‘unnamed sources’, planned to carry liquid explosives onto planes disguised as Coca Cola bottles. This danger, too, is not new. As I reported here a year ago, 67,000 people are injured each year, in the UK alone, trying to open a ring-pull can or peel the cellophane off a packet of sandwiches.
Quoting statistics may sound like a flippant response to a serious situation in which peoples lives are at stake. But what’s the alternative? My proposal in Designers and the Age of Fear was that designers can use their communication skills to help people judge risk in a rational way.
I will publish here – and pass on to some newspaper friends – the best visualizations you can come up with to put different kinds of risk in perspective.
Meanwhile, one or two designers are doing well out of the fear business. Googling “design” and “homeland security” yielded 600,000 hits in August 2004. The score last year was 3,220,000. Its score today? 24,900,000.