Compared with the past, people are enjoying their lives safer than ever. The frequency of large scale wars have reduced significantly alongside conflicts and violence. The advancement of technology also has played a great role to prevent any possible safety accidents and natural disasters. The difference is that safety in the past was physical but safety today is expanding its scope to virtual space.
People used fire and tools and created a society in order to survive for a long time. Back in the days, weather, enemies, beasts and many more were the things to threaten the lives of the people; and the safety meant a matter of life or death. People built houses as strong as possible to protect families or members of the society from outside risks or outsiders. Food was essential to keep their body functioning. Clothes protected their skin from harsh weather conditions.
Today, hygiene and the look of the house have become as much important as protection. Likewise, nutritional values of food, and styles of clothes have become more important than keeping the body alive and protecting the skin of our body. It is interesting that various wearable devices today have even reached to the level of monitoring our health; it is such a leap forward of clothes functional-wise.
Safety in the future is developing towards multi-directional monitoring and immediate countermeasures. We can possibly imagine a device that can track the movement of the resident, analyze the behavior and check the body status to prevent any possible health risks and accidents at home in the future.
The SF works like Aldous Leonard Huxley’s <Brave New World> and Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin’s <We> draw pictures of the future world as ‘dystopia’. Why dystopia instead of utopia? Because the future society might turn out to be undesirable or frightening against our dream thanks to the excessive monitoring and control.
In fact, PRISM of the National Security Agency U.S. caused an issue of global level tapping. PRISM has collected personal information of ordinary people especially on phone calls and internet in the name of ‘preventing terrorist activities’.
Keith B. Alexander, the retired four-star general of the United States Army who served as director of the National Security Agency, said “PRISM helped prevent potential terrorist events over 50 times since 9/11” added that PRISM contributed to preventing 90% of terrorist acts from 2001 to 2013.
So, monitoring and controlling has both good and bad points. What is needed then? ‘Transparent management’ is needed.
Change of indoor environment for health and safety
One’s home is the smallest physical unit of safety. However, physically safe does not necessarily mean it is also safe from pollutions especially the fine and ultra-fine dusts that have been obscuring the skies of the whole Korean land for several years. According a report of the World Health Organization, 2.8 million people lost their lives to the indoor air pollution in the year 2000 alone.
The best solution for many ordinary people seems to be installing air purifiers or humidifiers at home or office. Good news is that products with better functions to remove various harmful substances in addition to the dusts are being pouring into the market. What we can imagine in the future is that a sofa or anything that is in the house can detect the movement of the resident and check their health and automatically report to the emergency center or family members when in emergency situation.
Multitouch Floor introduced by IBM is a good example; the device recognizes who the person standing on the floor is, what he/she is doing, what situation they are in, and sends an alarm to a related center when in emergency. Zero Energy House, for another example, supplies power to the house when all electricity has been cut due to a natural disaster; an official also announced its plan that the house can use remained electricity of LEAF, an electric car of NISSAN, when in emergency. ‘
New housing environment requires new safety methods and this trend will only spread to more people and societies in accordance with increasing number of single households and people work and live more frequently indoors rather than outdoors.
Advent of eco-friendly fast food
Food and beverages are essentials of our lives. Yet they sometime become the cause of illness when eaten inappropriately or unhealthily. More and more people are searching for healthier and more natural food and avoiding fast food, fizzy drinks, high calorie and trans-fat food. The march of single households is calling the higher market demand for healthy and fresh food and they are willing to open their purse to pay for it.
In the United States, people argued over whether selling large sized fizzy drinks should be banned for health purpose while schools carried out a no-junk food campaign. In South Korea, obesity is not as big an issue as in the United States but the Ministry of Education reported in 2013 that the youth obesity rate recorded 15.3% and it seemed to be steadily increasing.
Meanwhile, the healthy food trend has been shifting from fast food to slow food, from eco-friendly food to organic food, and meat eaters to vegetarians. When it comes to city dwellers, however, the food businesses must satisfy both ‘speed’ and ‘healthiness’ of the food. In addition, some companies mark on each of their products with history of the food on which consumers get hold of the information about the ingredient, processing and distribution of the food.
The Mexican fast food chain CHIPOTLE launched The Scare Crow campaign in 2013. The campaign was to make sure that the CHIPOTLE products are actually grown organically by farmers although they are ‘fast food’. CHIPOTLE saw the need of city dwellers for healthy yet fast food so the company use organically grown food into fast food cans. In a way, the campaign created a positive ripple in terms of securing ‘transparency’ of ingredients used in fast food.
The hidden safety in fashion
From protecting the skin of our body, clothes have gone through a number of phases of advancements and today they seem to have become one of the tools to show off their styles and personalities. In addition, clothes have seen a significant makeover in special attires such as fire fighters’ uniforms or divers’ uniforms. Bulletproof vest for police officers and soldiers also are good examples of this makeover. What is more surprising nowadays is that they are predicting the advent of completely new functional attires thanks to the ever advancing wearable technologies and new materials.
It is notable that these highly advanced clothes also are seeking personality and styles. Various healthy monitoring sensors or devices are turning one of their eyes to esthetic value in addition to the functionality; in addition, cutting edge techniques like 3D printing is upgrading prosthetic hands and arms and legs to the level of fashion items to wear, at least in terms of its ‘look’.
Hovding is a scarf but it changes to a helmet when a cyclist starts a ride. Functional-wise, it is a portable airbag. Google Glass also is joining hands with Luxottica famous for Oakley and Ray-Ban to introduce fashion-driven functional glasses.
Safety in privacy
Changes in society and technologies also bring changes to safety goods and safety awareness of the people; and they are developing more proactive, more comprehensive and more multi-functional. Reflecting these changes, companies are introducing new products and services to satisfy the consumer demands. If the word ‘safety’ meant physical in the past, it also can include ‘protection of privacy’ today.
The personal data spill by hackers and voluntary exposure of personal information on SNS are two good examples of possible financial and mental damages. Online crimes can easily be ignored since they are not happening in real world. But the damages can be as critical as physical. It seems natural for this reason that there are companies offering services of deleting one’s information left online. It is also imaginable that some companies might offer services to prevent CCTV or drones filming people. Who knows?
Tools and technology alone cannot complete the implementation of safety. A good example is Sewol ferry disaster. All the manuals, technologies, training, system were there but the disaster happened nevertheless. What it teaches us that safety can be complete when the responsible person understands the manual and the system well and above all ‘put it into action’. The role of the commander of the safety team is crucial as it can be a matter of saving one more life or not. In a word, without a great sense of responsibility, safety can come into nothing no matter how advanced the technologies and systems are.