The Security Function Framework aims to help designers systematically articulate the security dimensions of their work. It is intended both to describe existing designs of products, places, systems and processes and to help structure the specification for new designs, in line with Crime Science principles and, ideally, evidence. It aims to do this whilst maintaining design freedom, which is important in building innovative capacity in order to handle changing contexts and run arms races.
The Vibrant-Secure Function Framework is an extension of the Security Function Framework. It was developed to apply to places/ districts, combining vibrancy and security.
SFF has four dimensions:
Security Function Framework
The Security Function Framework articulates the security aspects of existing designs, and potential new ones, using four dimensions:
- Purpose – what, and who, is the design for, in terms of security and other functions?
- Niche – how does it fit in the wider security ecosystem, e.g. is it a dedicated security product or a securing product with some other main purpose?
- Mechanism – how does it work to causally influence the offender or other agents/entities in the crime situation?
- Technicality – how is it constructed, and how is it operated?
Niche distinguishes several ways in which a designed item can fit within the security ecosystem:
- Secure products (like the Vexed/Puma bike with diagonal down-tube replaced by a lockable tensioned steel cable which both doubles as bike lock and acts as a value-reducer – cut the cable to steal the bike, and the bike becomes unusable)
- Dedicated security products (e.g. locks, ink-tags for spoiling the loot from shoplifting, or the Grippa clip for preventing theft of bags in bars)
- Securing products (those having some other primary purpose, like the Stop Thief chair, which is primarily for sitting on, obviously, but incorporating notches to hang one’s bag behind the knees)
- Security communications conveying preventive messages in an attempt, say, to mobilise users to self-protect, to mobilise designers themselves (as with posters mobilising architects to design against terrorism) or to deter offenders
Publications and presentations
The following publications and presentations set out the details of the Security Function Framework, and describe some applications:
Ekblom, P. (2012f). ‘The Security Function Framework’, in P. Ekblom (Ed.), Design Against Crime: Crime Proofing Everyday Objects. Crime Prevention Studies 27. Boulder, Col.: Lynne Rienner.
‘How to understand, specify and describe the security function of a product: towards a language and a framework for designing against crime‘, ECCA Brisbane 2010.
Ekblom, P., Bowers, K., Gamman, L., Sidebottom, A., Thomas, C., Thorpe, A. and Willcocks, M. (2012). ‘Reducing Handbag Theft in bars’ in P. Ekblom (Ed.), Design Against Crime: Crime Proofing Everyday Objects. Crime Prevention Studies 27. Boulder, Col.: Lynne Rienner.
Meyer, S. and Ekblom, P. (2011). ‘Specifying the explosion-resistant railway carriage – a desktop test of the Security Function Framework’. Journal of Transportation Security.
‘How to understand, specify and describe the security function of a product: Towards a language and a framework for designing against crime and terrorism’ With Sunniva Meyer. International Crime Science Conference, British Library.
Publications by others using the Security Function Framework
Parkin, S. and Chua, Y. T. (2022). ‘A Cyber-risk Framework for Coordination of the Prevention and Preservation of Behaviours’. Journal of Computer Security 30: 327–356.
Meyer, S., Jore, S. and Johansen, K. (2015). ‘Troublesome trade-offs: balancing urban activities and values when securing a city-centre governmental quarter.’ City, Territory and Architecture 2, 8.
Lulham, R., Camacho Duarte, O., Dorst, K. and Kaldor, L. (2012). ‘Designing a Counter-Terrorism Trash Bin’, In P. Ekblom (Ed.) Design Against Crime: Crime Proofing Everyday Objects. Crime Prevention Studies 27 Boulder, Col.: Lynne Rienner.
Vibrant-Secure Function Framework
The Vibrant-Secure Function Framework is an extension of the Security Function Framework, developed in a project collaborating with designers Marcus Willcocks and Adam Thorpe at the Design Against Crime Research Centre, University of the Arts London, to enliven a neglected district in Oslo.
Following Design Against Crime working principles, the project sought to prioritise ‘what we want more of’ over ‘what we want less of’, hence putting vibrancy before security. The advantage of incorporating the vibrancy x security requirements in the same framework is that they are more likely to be considered simultaneously, rather than security being bolted on after all the major design decisions have been made. Thus creative solutions might be found which support both benefits simultaneously, rather than a mediocre compromise.
The Framework is described in the following case study of the Oslo project:
Willcocks, M., Ekblom, P. and Thorpe, A. (2019). ‘Less crime, more vibrancy, by design’. In R. Armitage and P. Ekblom (Eds.) Rebuilding Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design: Strengthening the Links with Crime Science. Milton Park: Taylor and Francis. 216-245.