The perception of personal security in urban parks: comparative analysis of research methods

Miloslav Šerý, Lucia Brisudová, David Buil-Gil, Kinga Kimic, Paulina Polko, Reka Solymosi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Perceptions of personal security significantly affect human behaviour in geographical environments. Urban environments comprise a variety of places, including those with urban greenery. The way public places are perceived determines their utilization and their attractiveness among urban residents. Various methods have been applied to study perceptions of security and the environmental factors associated with it. The main objective of this chapter is to explore and compare different participatory research methods focused on analyzing the factors that influence perceptions of security in urban parks, and to explore their potential for placemaking processes. This overview is illustrated with three examples from the Czech Republic, Poland and the United Kingdom. The first case study explores perceptions of topophobia in places with greenery and parks in the town of Šternberk (Czech Republic). It employs cognitive mapping with a sample of local residents to explore aspects associated with perceived topophobia in parks, and results are visualized with semantic maps. The second case study explores the extent to which park infrastructures and maintenance level affect perceived security in urban parks in Warsaw (Poland). Results of an online web survey show that both park infrastructure and maintenance are likely to affect perceived security in parks. The third case study uses data recorded from the crowdsourcing Place Pulse project to study the spatial association between perceived security and the tree canopy (including trees in urban parks but also in streets) in London (United Kingdom). The relation between greenery and perceived safety may be context-dependent and vary across areas. All three participatory research methods use residents’ knowledge based on primary data gathering and digitization and as such offer practical tools for placemaking.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPlacemaking in practice
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Oct 2022


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