City crimes surface in the shadows of our daily lives; they are often unseen, unheard, unknown, and unreported. Various police organizations are now seeking new channels to ask the public to combat crime, by being legitimate informants. In my thesis I explore the possibilities of innovative forums for location based witness reporting for both crime and urban damage affecting safety.


Setting the first narrative in one of Europe´s largest cities - London, allowed for a short imaginary sequence in which response to a criminal event is likely to call upon a wide range of users, finding themselves in the vicinity of the crime incident.

After the Metropolitan Police receives and confirms knowledge about a potential assault, they could have the platform to inform users of the application, and subsequently reach out with a message to ask if anyone has seen anything suspect around them.

This is in fact a disposition the Met impose today, proved through their communication by twitter. What differentiates this application from such a feed is the distributed news to users in specific locations, about specific type of alerts, which the users have pre-defined.




This episode illuminates the need to report urban damage, as one of the key features of the application of my thesis. Having a minimal prerequisite of actions to be able to map problems, motivated users can open the app, photograph the light (as documentation and proof), define the type of damage, add optional input, and geotag the damage.

Activating a wide use of this could help authorities and caretakers easier map and evaluate which locations demand priority of attention.

In this scenario, we follow a young girl who navigates into new but darker areas of Berlin. As she witnesses badly lit street corners, she contributes to document the state of the incident.


As the central piece of the film, this scenario exposes the communication platform, and the specifics of the main feature of the application - crime alerts.

When the story´s protagonist reacts to local ambience, when he witnesses drug abuse in central Oslo. Following this he sets up his crime alerts to receive all kinds of updates regarding his areas. Furthermore he finds the need to mark the area where he has planned to be for the night, in case he should know of a crime in the area.

What proves this to be important is that anyone can potentially end up being a witness but not know about it. When the lead character knows in which way he can contribute he can stay aware, albeit not having it interfere with his personal life.

With enough credible digital witness material, being both visual and locationbased, police resources would have better capacity to fight crime.

Users would not be required to share immediate and sharp geographical position, as to maintain some privacy, although the system would raise credibility to users who set themselves willing to be contacted and also willing to share their nearabouts.

In this manner, the police would receive more rich material from Oslo citizens, allowing them to work counteractively, and with more reliability.


This Thesis encompasses safety along different levels. Overall the aim was to create a tool that could help citizens create safer cities, by reporting both urban damage & crimes. Furthermore it is also a tool, to stay informed about what is being done on each situation that has been reported.

The image to the right captures a scene that google cars photographed while creating google street view. A series of other absurd and provoking images can be found in this blog. They evidence a high resolution capture of something otherwise unseen.


At the same time as the beginning of the project, the Swedish police established a new set of channels for communicating to the public. This marked a transition from using traditional radio channel access - which
anyone could hack into, to using a very digital forum, accesible from anywhere in the world.

My mission was to collect this information on a daily routine over a period of three months. Evidently the access of each headline disappears after a certain amount of days, making it inaccesible. Therefore storing this day by day has allowed an extensive collection of events.

It was difficult if not impossible to keep track of all the information for more than a city for one day. However, it was feasible to map out all events happening in Umeå, from those which the police actually publicize (appearently this is also quite selective).


These figures indicate some of the increased interest in the feeds from the police. There is a notable increase in followers for the Stockholm twitter account. Also, there might have been a bug on the account for Uppsala, because it was minimized in content by February, and in March they had up to 3,821 Tweets and 460 new followers.

Even if this first reading in February was defect or inprecise, it is worth noticing that uppsala has double as many followers per tweet than Skåne has. In general every account has had increased interest over time; transparency and accountability are attributes the police seem to prioritize, while doing this.


This research concerns the crowdsourcing of witness information. The following image is a visualized map of broken lights in Umeå- layed out by demographic criteria, such as gender,and age group. There are overall 24 000 lights to account four and they are roughly divided into four geographic regions.

Comments about the issues are embedded in each icon; displaying the concerns .Greens are consideredsafe. Women symbolized by circles, Men symbolized by Triangles.

This information is internal to the Municipality of Umeå, but is created by users through this unique intiative: Belysningskarta / an interactive light map of the entire city.

Discovering this initative and seeing how advanced the Swedes have come in terms of crowdsourcing I was very inspired. What I found missing was the ability to report this information on the go; something which seemed to be quite a restriction.


The idea behind this workshop I held was understanding people´s interest in crimes where they live.

This workshop was designed to start thinking hypothetically and create discussions about which crime news are important to be informed about, under which circumstances, whom are the roles and when it occurs. I
invited 8 participants to engage in this workshop, and divided them in three groups first to have focused dialogues.

In the first exercise, users were asked to blend different cards, and put them randomly together; this gave them a possible scenario they might find themselves in.


The cards, which were combined with arbitrary order, led participants to imagine different scenarios. The cards were organized in this manenr:

When did the event happen, as informed by the police. What timerange affects whether one would engage in an emergency incident. The cards ranged between Now, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, up to 45 minutes. Their selection could be decisive in creating a proper reaction.

What is the nature of the incident, who is the victim and who are the aggressors; when and where did it happen. description of how far away from your position it happened.

Hypothetical locations, which would affect your relationship to the place and nature of acting upon the situation. Choices were: At your workplace, at campus, running in a new neighborhood, a good friend´s place, family
reunion, and more.


A lot of the imagined situations were created with reference to recent Swedish news I had followed. My interest was that everyone joining the workshop, could have different combinations based on their selections; hence between the different groups who had these cards, very
few had the same combinations.

As for the results, nobody wants to be overwhemed. If a service would alarm me about an emergency-like event nearby it should be for either:asking me to help (specific observations) or inform me for my own safety and protection.

It is essential to be able to filter the information you get, and you would most likely only want it in areas that personally affect you, where you work, where you live, where close ones live. You want to easily turn it off, if it´s in your way or the information is too heavy. You only want to receive alerts in timespans appropriate to you, without disturbing your everyday routine (time with family, work meetings).



In order to test and discuss the content and design of the safety application I created some low and high fidelity visual prototypes that could test interest and usability.

Accordingly, I asked users for their opinions around Reporting Damage and Crime Alerts. There were overlaps of interest, although some users saw themselves less likely to use a crime alert, unless under extreme circumstances.

As I received more feedback I reiterated and asked the same users what they thought about redesigns.

A more detailed account of the feedback can be found in this project blog.



Users were shown the same set of rough sketches of interaction proposals, features proposed, and different layout proposals. Overall I wanted to know if they would want to use a service like this and how they would use it.

Due to time restraints, I was not able to ask each user the exact same questions, but each one provided me with new insights that have informed the final design. In many cases I was verifying and validating the design,
and the users helped me approve what worked and what didn´t.
This phase became an indispensable value in creating the graphical user interface for the application.

Every user found value to both reporting urban damage and crime alerts, although they needed some convincing to combine the two together. Whether these may better be designed as separate entities is a speculative
question, but the decision to make them part of the same application is intended to be a conversation starter for future designs of applications wiich deal with both this topics. Together they comprise safety issues.


The first variations of the application design were about exploring a few of the decisive menus, and see what works best in terms of typography, layout, contrast, color harmonies and how to best communicate impact.

Given that the text needs to be as readable as possible while at the same time not being obstrusively present, it has been a quick decision about working with sans serif in capitalized letters. This makes the interface both
more consistent and modern. Thought has been given to how graphic design elements will cohabit within the different screens, where important content include maps and creating media.

In fact, having the screen as dark as possible will minimize light evading from the smart phones of the users, which might be a favorable condition given it´s use.



Designed for the Police, the focus of this Digital Interface is being able to present only most relevant information; first of all a map with location of police units that are tracked in realtime; identifying the locations where users are sending in witness material (these would already be filtered by the central communication board in the police).



Essential instances that I wanted to include in the final deliverable (a video scenario illustrating how the design works) was: how the user sets up key settings for the application, how information is synchronized and sent to
multiple subscribers of the service in realtime; and how this information is received to the police.


It was importantl in this project, to have the scenario prepared before travelling to three different European cities to film.

Accordingly, based on information about who would be available to play a role in this film, I sketched out three distinct events , one for each city.

It was furthermore of great value when discussing how filming would be done, and what was expected of the respective roles who helped in this production.

Compromises were made, based on changing variables, but all in all the storyboard was the landmark and the predecessor to the film.