Glossaries, ontologies, and discourses for intervention

  • A glossary for terrorism and crime at complex stations
  • An ontology for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)
  • An ontology for understanding reciprocal changes between offenders and security over different time frames – Co-Eco-Devo-Evo
  • A glossary for secure products
  • A list of alternative discourses for describing crime prevention action in different contexts of use

The value of a properly formulated ontology is that it permits us to closely track what is included within a conceptual framework or model and to deliberately make relevant additions, subtractions or amendments to the key elements where considered appropriate, as the developing ontology itself ‘learns’ to handle reality, and that reality itself continues to change.

Treating ontology as a process is important because at any given moment some concepts are inherently hard to resolve and with others, premature fixation of a controlled vocabulary may stifle conceptual development (particularly when combining of disciplines is being explored) and excessively constrain research and practice (cf. Driscoll 2017).

Links are provided below to the topics/projects from which the glossaries/ ontologies derived.

Glossary for secure products


Glossary for terrorism and crime at complex stations


Ontology – sharpening up Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

The human/social side of CPTED

Ontology – Co-Eco-Devo-Evo

Three timeframes and reciprocal relations

The ‘Co-Eco-Devo-Evo’ framework was designed to help policymakers, practitioners and researchers to get a grip on the rapidly-moving and jinking target of cybercrime, but with relevance too for material crime. It distinguishes between changes over different timeframes; and the fact that at each timeframe, there exist reciprocal relations between offenders and the security side.

The timeframes distinguish three fundamental aspects of physical, social, informational and technological interaction between agents and their environment: Ecology, Development, Evolution. In more detail:

This diagram (from Islam et al. 2019) represents the key relationships of Co-Eco-Devo-Evo:


These discourses can be confused by security practitioners – it is common to see a publicity campaign, for example, listed in a series of preventive methods alongside target-hardening, when the campaign could in fact be seeking to mobilise target-hardening. It is also obvious from the above list that there is no universally best discourse – some will be optimal for the strategic planning or impact evaluation stages; others for design; others for standard-setting, manufacture or gaining public acceptance. The important thing is for practitioners and researchers to be self-aware of which discourse they are using, which their collaborators are assuming and when is the appropriate occasion for a particular discourse.

Intervention, action, activity, task, measure