in detail
Safety Centre
the centre for new media

Milton Keynes hosts the UKs very first 'Safety Centre' - a place, known as 'Hazard Alley', which is a purpose-built interactive education centre for children. The centre is the result of collaboration between Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service and Thames Valley Police, and creates a partnership between statutory organisations, local government and health authorities, and the private sector. Thousands of children visit the centre each year.

When they came to us to see how New Media could help them they knew they needed to appeal to a wide range of users - teachers, students, potential visitors, safety professionals and the general public. The web site should help these users to focus on activities before and after a centre visit; to help make the visit as effective as possible.

Initially, we produced some fun, short, interteractive media elements (eg. Flash games) to help focus the kids before the visit; and downloadable paper-based resources (eg. pdf worksheets) to help the teachers, parents and kids to follow-up the visit.

We decided on a table based layout using their distinctive colour scheme. Basic information like how to get there, to detailed help for teachers linking matters of safety to the UK National Curriculum, all had to be included.

Each of the 12 sections that make up 'Hazard Alley' (the 'lifelike scenarios' part of the Centre) are featured in the main section of the site. Each contains a short description, photograph and relevant curriculum notes. Teachers can also download PDF work sheets that they can then print. Many of the sections also contain a link to an interactive Flash program aimed at the kids, specially created to reinforce the particular safety messages for that section.

We used php to create a custom 'guest/comment book', with entries that can be moderated by Safety Centre staff before going live.