Waltham Forest is a deprived area of London with an ethnically diverse community. From June 2013 to June 2014, a total of 21,600 crimes were recorded in the Borough; a figure down by 9% from the year before. The three most commonly reported crimes that year were violence against the person, car crime and burglary.
In Sofia, we focused on three districts: Triaditsa, Studentski and Krasna Polyana. In 2012, 23,719 crimes were recorded in Sofia, down 9% from the previous year. Just under 60% of recorded crimes in the city were thefts. Whilst there was a decrease in the number of robberies compared to the previous year, robberies were still a cause for concern in the area.
Rome has a total population of just under 2.9 million, living in 1.4 million households. The majority of the population are Italian (2.5 million). There were 127,639 crimes recorded in 2014. The most frequently recorded crime was theft of a motor vehicle (20%), followed by theft from person (11%) and criminal damage (9%).
Implications of the survey findings
- On the whole, younger respondents felt less confident that the police would treat them with respect if they had contact with them. Younger respondents were, however, more likely, than other age groups, to own a technological device with an app. This presents an opportunity to perhaps tailor-make an app with this target audience in mind, but also to consider innovative ways to reach out to other age groups.
- Avoiding areas, which were perceived to be high crime areas, was one of the ways in which respondents tried to safeguard themselves from becoming the victim of a crime. Addressing avoidance behaviour forms the basis of one of the project’s proposed Use Cases and has the potential for a good level of uptake. However, as already discussed on several occasions in project meetings, this could have the unintended consequence of stigmatising particular areas of a city.
- Returning to fears around crime, we found that more women than men across the three cities were fearful of becoming the victim of a crime. To garner a better understanding and address these issues via the City Risks app, the project could possibly benefit from consultation with female user groups in each city.
- On one hand, the reliance on traditional methods of reporting crime (over the phone or in person) suggests that the City Risks app requires a human interface, on the other hand, it also shows a level of preparedness to seek alternative methods of reporting a crime if they are easy to use and provide satisfactory responses.
- Apps based on the involvement of communities or reliant on user-generated content may be difficult to develop without detailed consultation with residents and business employees on the ground. However, the fact that across the three cities social networking, instant messaging and search tools were the most commonly used apps indicates firstly that citizens are willing to seek out information they need and interactivity (e.g. chat functions) could be a built-in feature of the app.
How will CityRisks decrease the fear of crime?
After two iterations of business analysis, the project team resulted in the final practical use cases of the project. The use cases include theft of Personal Belonging, theft of my vehicle, gather and disseminate information for ongoing events, guide me to a safe route, request for witness, view crime history of my city. These use cases will be managed by the end results which include studies for urban security challenges and factors of fear of crime, a platform and SDK, mobile and web application, theft prevention and identification sensor, and a business model and replication plan.