New toolkit aims to end confusion on social distancing

As infection rates rise, sending the right message on social distancing in the built environment is more important than ever. Can a new Covid-19 design toolkit set the standard?

As cities around the world start heading back into strict lockdown, it’s becoming clear that we may have to live with social distancing for much longer than we first thought. There has been a great deal of confusion surrounding the rules and messages surrounding social distancing, with governments using a variety of methods to try and control infection rates. Often the tactics they employ are draconian, and indiscriminate, but unfortunately necessary.

The simple calculation is that if we can deliver social distancing successfully, then we can avoid more of these strict measures. Post-lockdown rules are not simple, and there is plenty of confusion with different messages and a cacophony of signs often describing the same thing in different ways. The overarching question is: are these messages and signs effective?

With our expert understanding of human behaviour in the built environment, we’ve thought about how we can help end the confusion around social distancing. Our response is the development of the Covid-19 Design Toolkit. It has been created for governments, public, and private sector organisations help the public to practice social distancing effectively.

‘We only use one road sign system for good reason and it becomes the authority…’

It tackles two issues that at first glance might not be obvious. Firstly, it’s not enough to have the right content on a sign to be effective – it also has to be in the right place. Secondly, we only need one standard. It’s counter-productive to create multiple versions and ways of signing. We only use one road sign system for good reason, and it becomes the authority.

The Covid-19 Design Toolkit has three parts:

    • A grounding in the science of transmission and the practice of behaviour change.
    • A comprehensive set of guidelines to allow you to plan and implement best-practice quickly.
    • Ready-made sign designs, editable templates, and a universal icon set.

The Toolkit will allow you to place signs in the best locations and will allow many organisations to personalise, while still collaborating to support one standard.  For these reasons, we felt the best chance to be effective is if we published our knowledge for everyone to use. The guidelines are free to download here.

The design resources and templates are also available for WORKTECH Academy members to purchase via our link for a nominal fee, which helps to support the development of the Toolkit and future, specialised versions. We plan to update and add sections and versions when needs arise. If you want to help, please let us know.

Tim Fendley is Partner & Creative Director of Applied Wayfinding, which specialises in making sense of complex environments
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