“Hope Everyone is Safe”: How 2020 is Fostering a Culture of Safety
[Deem recently announced a partnership with GeoSure to create the Deem Travel SafetyCheck feature. This article was originally published by PhocusWire, July 13, 2020 and re-published with permission of author.]
“Hope everyone is safe.” We hear it all the time, especially since the pandemic and now with civil unrest sweeping across America.
It’s a heartfelt wish in treacherous times. But as a society, how can we make it more than just a platitude, but an everyday reality? How can we create a “culture of safety,” an expression of our mutual social contract, which goes back to John Locke and the Enlightenment values America is based on?
The pandemic and the explosion of emotion following the murder of George Floyd speak independently and together about the existential need for everyone to feel safe in every moment of our everyday lives, including during travel.
This requires a combination of data science and social norms reinforcing each other. It is challenging but within reach. Done right, it will support all of the sodalities that are the constituent parts of a healthy, thriving society. Everyone will benefit from this: individuals, companies large and small, communities – granular to the neighborhood level – industries such as tourism including destinations, schools and universities, nonprofits, and local governments.
Building a culture of safety
GeoSure, with its hyper-local safety data, has been dedicated to creating a culture of safety since its founding.
Three key elements are necessary to bring every individual their inalienable right of safety. These can not only be described, but quantified; I’ll get to that later, but first it’s important to understand the three building blocks for a true culture of safety:
PHYSICAL SAFETY - FROM ALL FORMS OF PHYSICAL HARM
We put this foundational element first; we must feel free of bodily harm, both health risks and personal assault.
Some groups have systematically been at higher risk, whether it be older people or Blacks and Latinos from the pandemic; Black men at the hands of the police; or women and the LGBTQ community when traveling.
Safety, in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, appears just above basic survival requirements like air, water and food.
PSYCHOLOGICAL AND EMOTIONAL SAFETY
This is premised around a cooperative understanding of wellbeing across one’s circle of trust, which embraces family, friends, colleagues, neighbors and community.
Our current mental health crisis highlights the ways in which our physical security and emotional safety are forever interconnected.
Safety comes from external forces - socially responsible policing, for example – and from internal dynamics (e.g., the power of crowdsourcing.) We must work together to improve traveler and neighborhood safety, bringing sophistication and discipline to the collection of safety information and developing better data supply chains to share it with appropriate organizations, including startups like GeoSure, that can convert it to good public use.
The very enactment of this will help: Behavioral psychology tells us that mere cognizance of safety in one’s environment becomes self-reinforcing. We are hard-wired to contribute to group and community wellbeing.
We’ve seen practices like social distancing, mask-wearing, and hygiene become adopted with a rapidity of acceptance rarely seen. That’s good news. Rather than it being imposed, the purest form of a culture of safety is internalized in the same way that we reflexively put on a seatbelt to protect ourselves and others.
We can’t allow issues like mask-wearing to be symbolized for political ends; a culture of safety is fundamentally apolitical, non-divisive, classless. It transcends wealth, poverty, education, attitudes, customs, religion and social order. It is Locke’s social contract theory in a 21st-century world.
The role of data in a culture of safety
For GeoSure, we are taking the next step with our Safety Culture Multiplier. We define this as [SCM = Xn = [(100+ GeoSafeScore™)/100] n, where X = index of an organization’s facilitation of safety strategies, n = diffusion rate constant: a measure of networking density and activity, GeoSafeScore™ = GeoSure Safety Score at organization location(s).]
It’s a mathematical model that makes it possible for safety to go viral, across any entity’s entire stakeholder network. This then triggers a “multiplier effect,” because every user and stakeholder who engages becomes a node of safety transmission.
By doing this, large travel, tourism and hospitality employers and organizations are empowered to leverage their networks to create an exponential and algorithmic culture of safety. Entire communities can participate and contribute in their own economic and psychological wellbeing. An additional byproduct is that community progress as a success metric can be measured.
Now is the time
I’m hopeful that the pandemic, while profoundly painful, will be a forceful first step in creating a culture of safety, including helping to regain confidence and restore trust in travel. Whether Covid-19, other health issues, and political environments stabilize or become more volatile in the future, safety awareness technologies will become commonplace for travelers and communities alike.
The notion of a “culture of safety” is as old as the American Republic. It is for all the people. In August of 1790, George Washington penned a letter to the members of the Touro Synagogue in Rhode Island. He thanked them for welcoming him and, quoting the Old Testament, described his hope for a nation where “everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”
I can think of no better words to live by, and 230 years later, it’s what motivates us every day.