Identifying and evaluating opportunities and obstacles for the use of new crime prevention and detection technologies in smart cities

Research Institution / Organisation

University College London

Principal Researcher

Julian Laufs

Level of Research


Project Start Date

September 2018

Research Context

​Smart city systems offer a variety of opportunities for crime prevention and have the potential to fundamentally change how we think about detecting and preventing crimes in an urban context. The implementation and use of smart crime prevention tools may, however, also cause controversy because of the threat they can pose to privacy, which can lead to a lack public support and make them fail in the longer term.

As a response to this, this research project attempts to identify opportunities for crime prevention in London's future smart city infrastructure and seeks to create a risk assessment tool to assess general criteria that make crime prevention interventions more socially acceptable. Interventions will be discussed in terms of their usefulness (i.e. the potential for reducing police demand) as well as potential issues of social acceptability.

Research Methodology

The project employs an approach in three phases.

Phase 1: Systematic review to answer the questions of how emergent technologies as crime prevention measures for smart cities are currently conceptualised in the academic literature, what smart technological interventions for crime prevention the literature identifies, and what functions these smart crime prevention and detection interventions fulfilled compared to traditional measures.

Phase 2: Expert interviews to

  • explore what knowledge practitioners working in the field of crime prevention or detection have about the use of new technologies and smart cities.
  • identify potential obstacles that hinder the implementation and use of new crime prevention technologies.
  • examine to what extent public opinion and social acceptability are considered as limiting factors for the implementation and use of new crime prevention technologies.

Phase 3: Online experiments to test to what extent the level of ‘smartness’ or the characteristics of different smart crime prevention and detection technologies impact public opinion.

Interim reports and publications

​Laufs, J., Borrion, H., & Bradford, B. (2020). Security and the smart city: A systematic review. Sustainable cities and society, 55, 102023. doi:  


Date due for completion

January 2022
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