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Design sprint for safety

Embracing a new way of working in an intensive and collaborative sprint to reduce harm to road workers from speeding drivers.

Learn more about a five-day design sprint, bringing together stakeholders across the transport construction sector.

Design sprint for safety


Motorists who speed through road construction sites put workers at risk of harm. How might we better educate drivers and create a safer system to protect road workers from injury?


The reasons that some drivers might speed through construction sites are varied, so a range of solutions is needed to see a meaningful reduction in harm to road workers. To develop these targeted solutions, we gathered a small team with varied skills to draw on a diverse set of expertise to work through a design sprint framework.

The framework followed the Google Ventures format(external link), and included these five key steps:

  1. Understand – the team gathers views from different experts, stakeholders and research to understand and define their problem statement.
  2. Diverge – creativity tools are used to generate a large number of potential ideas.
  3. Decide – ideas are grouped and merged before using prioritisation tools to focus on the best concepts – these are then refined and illustrated as storyboards.
  4. Prototype and test – prototypes are built and tested with customers, so they can interact with them and provide feedback, without having to build a full solution. The focus is on the user experience, not functionality or aesthetics.
  5. Iterate and pitch – User feedback is used to refine the concepts. These are then captured in the form of a mission-model canvas(external link) and pitched to the sprint sponsors.


The design sprint was held over a week, including site visits to roadworks in progress, and utilised input from NZ Transport Agency staff, NZ Police, Worksafe, several contractors, the Auckland Motorways Alliance, and other aligned parties.

The team came up with 209 entries on how to reduce harm to road workers, of which the most promising were then refined into storyboards and a prototype taken out to be tested with drivers and road workers.

Key elements included the ability to dynamically change speed restrictions to be appropriate to the level of hazards on site at the time (e.g. reduced speed in the presence of workers), removing human operators where possible (e.g. automated stop/go signs), and both monitoring and enforcing speed restrictions through point-to-point speed cameras.

Work is now underway to assess feasibility and impact of these ideas (many of which are already underway), and progress them towards implementation.