But most notably, Mockus’ creativity shone when it came to stemming Bogota’s rampant traffic-related fatalities. First, he painted the streets with 1,500 or so stars, each signifying where a pedestrian was struck by a car and ultimately died. But that wasn’t enough. As reported by the Harvard University Gazette (replete with must-see picture), Mockus surmised that his constituents were not motivated by fear of being struck by a car, but could be motivated by embarrassment and/or shame. So he trained people to be mimes (!) to mock jaywalkers — 420 mimes, total — and, amazingly, it worked. Before Mockus’ programs went into effect, traffic fatalities were at about 1,300 a year; after, they dropped to 600 — more than half.
The project began as a whimsical effort to literally see around corners — by capturing reflected light and then computing the paths of the returning light, thereby building images coming from rooms that would otherwise not be directly visible.