KIRAS Security Research

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Projects of the joint German-Austrian call

R&D- Support Actions >Call 2018 >

Community work as a factor of security in public space: understanding of effects and success factors

The project aims to generate scientifically sound findings on security-relevant effects of various approaches of community work in public space by means of meaningful impact evaluation.

Initial situation, problems and motivation: International research on security in the public sphere illustrates the multitude of uncertainty and insecurity factors that interact in a complex way on a physical-spatial, individual/psychological, and social level. Problem areas such as damage to property, noise pollution, discriminatory spatial displacement and appropriation processes, up to incidents of physical violence and bodily injury play a role here, even if their causes and constellations can be very different. In effect, this can lead to great strains on community life and on the personal sense of security of the affected users and residents. 

In addition to conventional measures (technical surveillance, increased police presence, etc.), social measures are an important security factor in the public sphere, which can strengthen respectful, interest-sensitive negotiation, empowerment, and commitment to civil society in the social sphere. Community work (GWA) is an internationally recognised concept aimed at improving the living conditions of people in a community with the participation of those affected. Capacity to act and self-organisation in the sense of collective empowerment are promoted. Community work is seen as a strategy to reduce violence in the community and to increase subjective and objective security. 

Goals and innovative content: At present, various GWA approaches exist in Austria, but there is a lack of well-founded, informative knowledge of the efficacy of the implemented approaches. But only on the basis of this knowledge can practice actually be further developed both innovatively and evidence-based - in other words: best practice can emerge. 

  • The research project generates scientifically sound findings on security-relevant effects of various approaches of community work in public space by means of meaningful impact evaluation.
  • On this basis, comprehensive and context-specific success factors and guidelines for an evidence-based conception and implementation of community work projects are identified. They are systematically communicated to relevant demand groups in Austria and jointly transformed into practical knowledge. 

Aimed results and findings

  • Comprehensive efficacy data of four evaluated GWA measures in the public sphere
  • Catalogue of evidence-based success factors for the conception, design and implementation of innovative GWA approaches in public spaces
  • Recommendations for action/implementation for municipal decision-makers, GWA institutions and other security partners (e.g. police/prevention officers),
  • Instrument for impact-oriented self-evaluation for GWA measures in public spaces

Project Coordinator
Dr. Hemma Mayrhofer, IRKS – Institut für Rechts- und Kriminalsoziologie

Project leader
FH Campus Wien
Bundesministerium für Inneres

Dr. Hemma Mayrhofer
IRKS – Institut für Rechts- und Kriminalsoziologie
Museumstraße 5/12
A-1070 Wien

Tel.: 01/ 526 15 16-20