Illuminating safety and community spirit at Penrith’s City Park

Tamara Blakemore, Researcher from the University of Newcastle, with Penrith Mayor Todd Carney and Penrith MP Karen McKeown at the launch of the Penrith Pennies today. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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Four digital display structures called the Penrith Pennies have been installed at City Park in Penrith.

The structures are part of Transport for NSW’s Smart Cities Innovation Challenge which is aimed at helping women and girls feel safer in public spaces.

The Pennies are being delivered by the University of Newcastle’s FastLab in partnership with Design Anthology, Saphi and Urbis after winning Transport for NSW’s second Smart Cities Innovation Challenge.

The design and development of the content on the Pennies was created through a co-design process with women and girls in the Penrith area.

Two workshops were held where participants were asked to consider how technology might help them feel safer in public spaces. The findings have informed the sensor-based technology and the content programming of each Penny.

The Penrith Pennies launched this morning. Photo: Melinda Jane.

“Unsafe public spaces disproportionately affect women and girls, it’s a problem for our entire community,” said Professor Paul Egglestone, Director of FASTLab at the University of Newcastle said.

“We know the transformative power of technology and art projects in changing people’s experience and use of public spaces. Our collaborative research project – through the local Penrith community engaging with the ‘Pennies’ – has the potential to reveal ways we can foster a sense of cultural safety where everyone feels comfortable, included and valued.”

The installations will use sound, light and artwork to encourage interaction. They will also display information about upcoming events in the area and gather data to help the NSW Government understand and improve perceptions of safety for women, girls and gender diverse people.

Checking out the new digital signage in City Park. Photo: Melinda Jane.

Transport for NSW provided $1 million to the University of Newcastle for the solution. The University has previously installed similar display structures called “Night Galleries” in Newcastle to activate underutilised public spaces.

“Research tells us that people feel safest in places that have plenty of people around, no matter what time of day,” said Lizzy Pattinson, Director, Strategic Projects and Innovation for Transport for NSW.

“I’m thrilled we are putting in these installations, to help make City Park a brighter place, particularly as women and girls walk to Penrith Station, a major transport hub for western Sydney.”

Penrith Mayor Todd Carney said he was proud that City Park, a new landmark in the heart of Penrith, is paving a path for technology and safety to coexist.

“It’s extremely important that we provide areas that are light and bright where everyone in our community can feel safe,” he said.

Penrith Mayor Todd Carney speaking at the launch. Photo: Melinda Jane.

“With these digital installations and sensor-based technology allowing green, open and public spaces like City Park to be well-lit and interactive, it enables women and girls to feel comfortable, particularly at night.

“As City Park is a wonderful place to sit and relax, get active in, or meet up with family and friends, it is a great technological initiative for our City.”

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