Sketch Maps & Geographical Cognition: A Case Study on Crime Perception

ACDH-CH Research Day 3: Methods of Investigating Space

23. April 2024


Presenter: Ourania Kounadi |

Affiliation: Working Group: Digital Geography, Institute Of Geography And Regional ResearchUniversity Of Vienna


The working group on Digital Geography explores the new means of Geographical Research in the Digital World. Part of our work involves testing theories and methods with new types of geodata (e.g., geosocial media data, collective sensing data, volunteered geographic information, etc.), which are increasingly used in geographical studies. In this presentation we discuss (digital) sketch maps which are maps marked by people to depict their insights on knowledge, perception, and spatial cognition and have been used for cognition research, perception acquisition, public participatory information, and in cartography. Within a broad range of applications, we are most interested on subjective "wide-view" domains capturing spatial perception and spatial knowledge.

The focal point of our case study is safety, as one of people's basic needs, expressed via crime perception, which refers to an individual's subjective assessment of the level of criminal incidents and the probability of victimisation. Traditional questionnaires and interviews have mostly been used to investigate crime perception; however, these are non-spatial by nature. A place-based method helps us considering the spatial and geographical factors related to this subject matter. We present the results of a survey using a sketch map tool in Vienna and Budapest to investigate the patterns of spatial crime perception (SCP); in other words, the areas that people perceive as safe and unsafe with regards to crime. We are interested in hotspots and the variability of perception of safe/unsafe areas as well as their correlation with other individual, social, and physical environmental factors. Further exploration of this study, will focus on the spatial crime perception gap (SCPG), where previous findings indicate that people's perception of safe/unsafe areas is not in line with the actual crime prevalence in space. A deeper understanding of crime perception and the crime perception gap is essential to increase awareness on risk of victimization as well as to mitigate avoidance behaviour and needless anxiety.



ACDH-CH Research Day 3
ÖAW, Sonnenfelsgasse 19, Theatersaal, 1010 Wien