Saturday, June 25, 2022

Launching SafeGrowth in Europe - Reflections from Helsingborg's H22 Smart City Expo

Swedish promotional video on SafeGrowth for the 
H22 Smart City Expo - music video courtesy of MOOSGH

by Mateja Mihinjac & Gregory Saville

The H22 Smart City Expo in Helsingborg, Sweden is approaching its final days. What a month it has been for the two of us and the SafeGrowth neighbourhood team on the ground! 

This is the first-ever demonstration of the SafeGrowth neighbourhood safety planning system in Europe and the H22 Smart City Expo is a month-long, international demonstration of all things futuristic, promising, and technological for cities in the future. Helsingborg is the host of the H22 Expo and the neighbourhood of Drottninghög has been the site of SafeGrowth community work for the past year. 

H22 has outdoor and indoor exhibits, conference and walking tours,
and demonstrations in different city neighbourhoods

In the first week, we held a series of safety audit workshops in Drottninghög where residents have been implementing parts of the SafeGrowth model. We hosted professional visitors from municipalities across Europe wanting to learn more about SafeGrowth and its methods. We demonstrated our safety audit process and technology using a mobile app to collect perception of safety data during night walking audits that communities can use for subsequent safety-based community work.

Evening photo of Helsingborg architecture


We also facilitated a night-time safety audit with a large group of 40 attendees from the Urban Future Conference, which was a welcome challenge. We divided participants into several small groups to demonstrate the method. It was necessary for us to keep our participants until after darkness, which mean that the audit could not effectively start until 22:30 when it finally got dark enough to observe the nighttime environment! 

Planners and city officials from across Europe attend one of our night
audits with our new mobile app

We were delighted to see they stayed late into the evening and enthusiastically engaged in the exercise. It was satisfying to hear such positive comments from the participants afterwards.

Greg, Mateja and Iman preparing for the presentation at H22 Talks

Our second highlight included two different H22 talks and Urban Future Conference presentations when we introduced SafeGrowth to industry partners. Both presentations included a brief overview of SafeGrowth and its initial stages of implementation in Drottninghög with Greg Saville, Mateja Mihinjac and Iman Abbas. The sessions included interactive discussions with the audience as they investigated how to adopt this in their own cities across Sweden and Europe. 

One of our display posters at our pavilion

We were fortunate to invite an outstanding group of panelists of our key stakeholders to the Urban Future Conference session. They included members of our neighbourhood team: 

  • Peter Karström from the Helsingborg Police; 
  • Mahad Abdullahi, a neighbourhood youth representative; 
  • Seenaa Alshohani, a neighbourhood resident representative; and 
  • Iman Abbas, The City of Helsingborg coordinator for SafeGrowth and a SafeGrowth Advocate. 

This panel shared their own personal insights into their experience with the SafeGrowth method over the past year, its potential, challenges during their work on the ground, and the future outlook. 

Three of our team members - Mateja, Mahad and Iman - getting ready
for another day of presentations


One of the most crucial roles in the entire SafeGrowth experience at the H22 Expo was the role of the SafeGrowth team under the guidance of the city’s coordinators Iman Abbas and Mia Wiklund. 

Mateja and Mia getting ready for presentation

Iman and Mia helped provide direct interaction with attendees and they demonstrated the SafeGrowth method to neighbourhood and city residents, visitors, politicians, professionals, researchers and tourists who wanted to learn about SafeGrowth work underway in Europe for the first time. Iman, Mia and all the local team members continue to spread the message until the very last day of the Expo.

We were delighted with the professionalism and expertise of all our new friends in Drottninghög and we are convinced this is the exact message deserving of a smarter - and safer - city in the future.

We thank the residents and local community of Drottninghög who continue to volunteer their valuable time to make their neighbourhood safer and more liveable. Special thanks go to Iman Abbas and Mia Wiklund who have been working tirelessly while coordinating the neighbourhood team in their SafeGrowth work and planning for the H22 Smart City Expo. 

Thank you all!

An evening meet and greet at H22 over the Helsingborg waterfront

Monday, June 13, 2022

The Painted Ladies

by Tarah Hodgkinson

A few weeks ago, we decided to take a drive out to Grimsby, a small city on the shore of Lake Ontario for a hike. We found a charming coffee shop, some neat stores, and one of the most interesting examples of community culture I have ever seen. 

We parked our car and strolled through the roundabout and surrounding streets to find several houses in the area painted up in the funky colours of Painted Ladies architecture. Many folks who live in Southwestern Ontario will be familiar with the Painted Ladies. These are a collection of houses that feature wild colour palettes and thematic designs. 

This now popular tourist destination was once a Methodist camp along Lake Ontario. The neighbourhood then transitioned to beach cottages. When the Methodist camp went bankrupt in the early 1900s, the area was replaced with an amusement park. After that closed in the 1930s, the remaining cottages were built up, winterized and decorated to reflect their interesting past. 

Interestingly, homes in the Painted Lady architectural style are not that unusual. Old Victorian and Edwardian houses, or in this case cottages, are repainted in bright colours to enhance their architectural features and embellish their historical heritage.

Other areas of the world also participate in the tradition of painting their houses bright colours including parts of Copenhagen, Ireland, and San Francisco. I would argue that none are as creative, or as individual and unique, like those in Grimsby. 


What is great about these houses, besides their fun designs, is that they create a community culture. The space is activated and people are present. Neighbours are out talking to each other and visitors to the area. The sense of place is strong and the houses, while equally bold in their colour choices, represent the individual personality of their residences. The curving and narrow road paths reflect a road network that has prioritized walking over cars. The colours are bright, not worn, reflecting that they are often updated and maintained. 

We often speak about the role of second-generation CPTED principles on this blog. These include culture. The Painted Ladies reflect not only a way to activate space (1st generation advanced CPTED), but also bring folks together through a process of constantly building and rebuilding their local sense of place. 

Like the painted intersections in Portland, or the penguin art across Penguin, Australia, these traditions not only build culture but also contribute to socially cohesive neighbourhoods.