What I've Learned

Lifesaving Traffic Lights

Carlijn Bijlsma & Tom Sibma
Wed 26 Apr

I'm Carlijn Bijlsma. Tom Sibma and I designed an interactive traffic light for bicycles, to help discourage cyclists from riding through red lights and also to raise awareness of the dangers of using a smartphone in traffic.

What did you learn during the project with the municipality of Rotterdam?

It struck me that organisations such as the municipality of Rotterdam are often dealing with issues and challenges that students often knew more about or were really in a position to help with. Our creative minds allowed us to come up with completely different approaches and solutions. I think there should really be many more collaborations like this. This applies not only to the municipality, but also to all organisations that approach issues from a much more rational perspective than we do. This is how I learned that it’s a good idea to work together with external partners that are outside of your own field. This can be mutually beneficial to both parties, and it allows you to go places and meet people you wouldn’t otherwise have encountered, which makes it all even more interesting and exciting.

What didn’t you expect to learn, but experienced as a bonus?

Working together with different big organisations from ‘the outside world’. This was something we hadn’t really expected, but it was quite easy to bring both parties together. The results were positive for everyone, a win-win situation. Working together with several partners puts you in a stronger position and allows you to achieve more than if you were trying to do everything alone. I’m referring here to the collaboration with the municipality of Rotterdam and with Michael Kulkens and his Stichting T-Butterfly.

Our creative minds allowed us to come up with completely different approaches and solutions.

Did you gain any insights that can be used in your further life and study?

Bring your work outside of your studio, even out in the street! Show it to people, talk with them about it. This helps you to see your own work from a different perspective, and to come up with great new ideas and potential partnerships.

What kept you awake at night?

We wanted to approach a father who had lost a child and tell him all about out project, which was based on the story of his son. How do you do this? Eventually I decided to just call him up one day, at his foundation. I explained our project, and then no one said anything for a few seconds. I was a bit nervous, because of course this is something very personal for him. But then those few seconds of silence were immediately followed by 30 minutes of positive feedback! He thought it was great what we were doing, and wanted to help us in any way he could (as I said, bring your work outside of your studio).

What was the greatest obstacle?

The Raspberry Pi... My god. I decided to get involved as little as possible with that aspect. That was more Tom’s thing, haha. I found it really complicated, but also very interesting. It just wasn’t very efficient to sit there together coding and staring at a display screen. Sometimes you can make technology work for you... But not always. Sometimes computers just do things you don’t want them to do. As was the case with the Raspberry Pi. So the coding ended up being a lot of work. A transmitter, another transmitter, one wrong letter in the code and boom, nothing works anymore. Really stressful. But when everything works as it should... Great equipment!

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