Service design solutions
for reducing crime rates


Seoul Metropolitan

Project type

Service Design


Research, solution suggestion,
(The solutions Implemented
by the other team)


Along a narrow alley about 200m long and 2m wide, there is a village called Hoegi-dong consisting of low-rise multi-unit and around 200 households.

It was selected as a pilot project for the construction of a safe neighborhood by the Seoul Metropolitan Government in September 2013.


In Dongdaemun-gu, a district in South Korea, a survey conducted by the local health center revealed that out of 214 respondents, 82 individuals (38.2%) expressed concerns about the safety of their neighborhood.

Furthermore, the average daily crime reports indicate a worrisome trend, with 7-8 incidents being reported regularly. This situation further adds to the sense of insecurity and unease experienced by the local community.

What caused the problems..?

Ethnographic study

  • University and lab congested area

  • Single-person temporary households only for study densely populated the area

  • People in their 20s and 30s accont for 45% of the total population of Hoegi-dong


Temporary residents in their 20s
"I quite often move around in the same neighborhood since the contracts I normally receive are short-term. I feel anxious when I encounter a stranger, If it’s even a postman.My neighbors are not hospitable. But no problem with it."

Local people in their 40-50s

"I am worried about my teenage kids everyday especially when they are on the way back home.I educate my child to be careful with strangers, even if they are living in the same building.It's a shame that there is no space to have conversations with neighbors."

Voluntary wardens

"The police do not respond unless it is a serious case, so people often report minor incidents to the voluntary wardens, but it is not our responsibility. We cannot handle all of the small cases as we also have our own jobs for living."

Field observation

Vulnerable zone : Hoegi 12 street

This street is not specifically used, even though it is a shortcut.
Voluntary wardens are notified most often by locals of incidents in this street.


“I prefer to walk in a wide and bright street at night where there are many pedestrians, even though it takes a longer time to get home.”

Name: Seong-Eun Kim
Age: 22
Occupation: Student
Location: Hoegi-dong, Seoul (residing for 2 years)
Hometown: Gyeonggi-do
Education: Studying in BA Marketing, Kyung Hee University
lifestyle: Single
Hobbies: Hangout with friends, watching movies
Personality: Easygoing, outgoing, social, cheerful

User Goals
- To find safe walking routes at night
- To hang out at night with friends and get back home safely without anxiety

”I’m worried about my two teenage daughters when they get back home after school.”

Name: Jae-hoon Jung
Age: 45
Occupation: Engineer
Location: Hoegi-dong, Seoul (residing for 15 years)
Hometown: Gangdong-gu, Seoul
Education: Masters
Lifestyle: Married, two children
Hobbies: Reading a book, listening classical music
Personality: Introvert, kind, thoughtful

User Goals
- To make sure if my daughters are safe when they are outside
- For my daughters to feel safe and comfortable in the neighborhood.
- To help them immediately if anything bad happens to them

”I don’t want people to remember my face. I’m pretty sure they are not interested in others like me.”

Name: Gil-Tea Kim
Age: 34
Occupation: unemployed
Location: Hoegi-dong, Seoul (residing for 3 months)
Hometown: Busan
Education: Secondary school
Lifestyle: Single
Personality: Impersive, negative, a social misfit
Criminal record: Thefts, kidnap, assaults, murder, dumped body

User Goals
To be in the blinded spaces where nobody can be aware what I am doing

Journey mapping

Our team conducted an exercise where we assumed different roles based on the personas we identified. Through this exercise, we gained a deeper understanding of the factors contributing to insecurity in the street.

While environmental aspects certainly play a role in creating a sense of insecurity, we realized that the impact of people is even more significant. The actions, behaviors, and interactions of individuals within the community have a substantial influence on the overall perception of safety and security.

Affinity diagram

Physical environmental factors

  • Too high walls

  • Narrow alleyways

  • Complicated routes

  • Dark environment

  • Deteriorated buildings and facilities

  • Broken footpaths

  • Many blinded areas

  • No public playgrounds and parks

  • Garbage in streets

Cognitive factors

  • Unaware of volunteer security

  • Emergency bell is unfamiliar

  • Unacquainted neighbours

  • Uninformed of other routes

Cultural factors

  • Lack of opportunities to communicate between neighbors

  • Inadequate recreational areas or channel to build culture

Psychological factors

  • Lack of ownership in the area.

  • Suspect that some neighbors could be potential criminals.

  • No trust among neighbors.

  • Feel scared when walking alone.

  • Dissatisfaction with the environment

  • Tension regarding potential crimes.

Social factors

  • Patrol time and crime times do not match

  • Lack of other pedestrians (Natural surveillance)

  • Limited communication between neighbors

  • Lack of interests in issues in the neighbourhood

  • Police do not consider small crimes

  • Lots of strange neighbors (short-term residents)

core reason

We identified a significant contributing factor to the insecurity in Hoegi-dong: the indifference displayed towards public space and neighbors. This lack of concern and engagement has resulted in a weakened community fabric, making the area more susceptible to crime.

Indifference towards public space refers to a lack of ownership and responsibility for maintaining and preserving shared areas. When individuals disregard the cleanliness, upkeep, and overall well-being of public spaces. Neglected public spaces can attract illegal behaviors, making residents feel unsafe and further eroding the community's sense of security.

Similarly, indifference towards neighbors hampers the development of a strong and interconnected community. When residents are detached and disengaged from their neighbors, it becomes challenging to establish trusting relationships and build a collective effort to address security concerns. Lack of communication, cooperation, and support among neighbors can leave individuals feeling isolated and vulnerable.

How might we encourage residents to take care of their neighbours and neighbourhood?

Solution strategy

The services cater to individual needs by promoting social interaction among neighbors in public areas, thereby reducing the risk of crime. Residents seek out these services to fulfill their personal requirements, but in doing so, they engage in communication with other residents. As a result, service users naturally become acquainted with their neighbors.

Final Design Solutions

Key services
/ Blue prints

1. Neighbours receive packages on behalf of each other.

Individual problem:
Nervousness when encountering an unfamiliar mail carrier as a single woman living alone.

Social interaction:
Communication between the intermediaries and the recipients during the parcel exchange process.

2. Flea market

Individual problem:
Constantly dealing with the disposal and acquisition of items due to frequent relocations within the same area.

Social interaction:
Communication during the exchange of used goods.

3. Community garden

5. Small talk bench

4. Outdoor cinema

6. Alley gallery

Scenario 1


“A suspicious person is behind me.
If he attacks me, I can’t do anything.”

CPTED (only environmental improvement)

“A suspicious person is behind me.
I think he cannot easily attack me
because of a security camera.

If he harms me, that camera
will help in an investigation.”

“A suspicious person is behind me.
I think he can’t easily attack me
because of other people,
but even if he harms me,
I’m not sure someone will help me.”

Solutions with social connection

“I can comfortably walk at night,
Because I know quite many neighbors.
If I bump into someone, it could be one of
my neighbors who I’m familiar with”

“A suspicious person is behind me.
I don’t think he can try to harm me
because of other people.

If he harms me,
I believe my neighbours will help me out.

Scenario 2


“I don’t care if this space is clean or not.
I can see that nobody is trying to maintain it.
I don’t have any reason to care about it.”

CPTED (only environmental improvement)

“I don’t think it‘ll be a problem
even if I don’t care about it.
it isn’t my place.”

Solutions with social connection

“I would like to maintain this space clean
because I need to sell some stuffs
it’s good for both myself and customers.
And this place will be used by others as well
I don’t want to cause inconvenience to them.”



After implementing these solutions, we witnessed a substantial reduction in crime reports. On average, the daily crime reports dropped from 7-8 incidents to 1-2 incidents.

Additionally, the residential community was successfully sustained, making the village not only enjoyable but also safe for its residents.

The impact of our solutions was recognized with an award in the Korea Public Design category, setting an exemplary standard for other areas to benchmark and replicate.

© 2023 Ariel Kim