The conceptualization of graffiti by stakeholders has changed over time and three main milestones have been identified: this social phenomenon was born in the 70’s in New York City and since then it has spread mostly through mass media into other countries. In the late 1980’s, public authorities started considering graffiti as a problem although since 2000’s graffiti received closer attention from the art world, partially fostered by the rise of street artists. Concepts such as street art appear and fine art galleries admit graffiti in their exhibitions. Obviously, this new phase requires a reconceptualization of both prevention strategies and awareness campaigns. In order to better inform these practices, a diagnosis phase has been carried out.
The very early stages of the project have been oriented to information gathering through an interview process to relevant stakeholders (from dutyholders to graffiti writers). Undoubtedly, Graffiti is a social phenomenon that usually starts during adolescence and may last for years and even decades. It is an urban and international phenomenon. Graffiti writers are mainly male although female presence is increasing rapidly.
Generally speaking, graffiti writers recognize graffiti as a way of expression whereas other stakeholders, including transport operators or law enforcement agencies understand this practice under vandalism and anti-social behaviour incidents. This latter conception leads to the implementation of repressive prevention strategies in contrast to legal alternatives such as “free walls”. This highlights the lack of communication between stakeholders. Understanding each other’s views and needs while allocating specific people that can have dialogues with both parts seems to be crucial. Graffolution seeks to accomplish this through the web-based platform.
Building the platform. This tool will be iterated and improved through the new insights arising from the on-going research. The main objective is to create novel ways to positively impact graffiti vandalism across Europe. Currently the design and development team of Graffolution is working on the overall interface concept of the platform. On the basis of early insights made by the research provided in the diagnosis as well as on initial collection of case studies, the first vision of the Graffolution platform will be established.
The Collaborative Knowledge Base is a virtual meeting point for all stakeholders and experts in the field of graffiti vandalism prevention. Persons with relevant positions at city administrations, public transport services, law enforcement agencies and experts of other organisations can enter the Collaborative Knowledge Base which offers them multiple functionalities. They can search for other local, national or pan-European stakeholders to get in contact and collaborate in further projects. A core element of the Collaborative Knowledge Base is the Measure and Case Library which is built up on best practices. Concrete descriptions of measures will allow stakeholders to identify more options they have to prevent graffiti vandalism. These best practices can be permanently updated by the stakeholders and should lead to improved graffiti prevention strategies based on proven knowledge of other stakeholders in Europe. Besides the best practices the stakeholders will be able to share data such as recent offence statistics and documents (e.g. reports and policy briefs). This data can be of utmost importance to assess the current situation of graffiti vandalism, find appropriate partners and develop efficient new measures. A news board serves as a simple communication tool to briefly inform all other stakeholders on new developments. Due to the fact that most stakeholders who operate against graffiti vandalism have very limited resources (time, money, staff, equipment etc.) the whole platform is designed as a low cost system which is easy to use and designed along the requirements of the relevant stakeholders and experts.
The Open Information Hub is designed to raise the awareness among citizens and graffiti writers. Comprehensive visualisations on damage will demonstrate how much money is spent on graffiti vandalism prevention methods. The costs will be set in relation to concrete and easy understandable factors (e.g. effect on ticket prices or number of persons that could supplied with food, pharmaceuticals or other important goods and social services). The Open Information Hub also will provide legal alternatives especially for the sprayed scene. Using advanced social media widgets adolescents and young adults will be addressed. The platform will provide information on free walls and connect people who are interested in graffiti art to support creative expression without damaging property of others. Citizens who are heavily affected by illegal graffiti will find useful information on prevention opportunities they can take and important contacts they can refer to if they become victims of graffiti vandalism. The Open Information Hub shall increase the awareness on the issue but also seeks to include graffiti writers in local communities to find appropriate ways that create more liveable environments for all citizens. With the Collaborative Knowledge Base on the one side and an Open Information Hub on the other side, the Graffolution platform takes a holistic approach: