Innovative results for local democracies

The tools and activities developed in the IcARUS project in various European cities are of great interest to us at the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences.

The scientific monitoring of these activities provides us with useful information since our teaching and research is focused on  social innovation and the development of democracy and that we share the results of our work with our networks, especially our students from the field of social work.

Work package 4 in particular, in which the tools are being tested and initial results are expected, will enrich our teaching. We also want to reflect on these results in scientific articles and pass them on to stakeholders from Austrian cities as good practice.

Our main focus in the project is on supporting cities that are dedicated to preventing radicalisation and extremism, which is particularly true of Stuttgart. Our many years of experience in the development, implementation and scientific monitoring of social innovations, especially in the prevention of anti-democratic tendencies, is very helpful for our role in the IcARUS project.

We also endeavour to draw on preliminary work from previous EU projects and share this experience with our project partners. We have already summarised the main findings from these previous projects in two publications: Handbook for Inclusive Democracy and Empowerment at Local Level and Resilience Against Anti-Democratic Tendencies Through Education. Competences for Democratic Culture in European Social and Youth Work* The work we carried out in the past will be expanded and deepened by the IcARUS project.

* You can download this publication in four languages here

Local validation workshops: Toolkit development on the finish straight

Participation and co-production are core principles of the IcARUS project: Rethinking and innovating existing urban security practices and adapting them to today’s challenges demand that local communities be engaged as active co-producers rather than passive recipients of public services. The development, demonstration and implementation of the IcARUS toolkit thus follows an interactive design thinking methodology, which fosters the active partaking of local practitioners in defining and framing local challenges as well as in developing and implementing innovative schemes that can help address or solve a particular local issue.

A wide range of civil society actors

The tool development process conducted in IcARUS’ 3rd work package did not only engage the consortium’s city administrations, law enforcement agencies and research institutions, but also a wide range of civil society actors such as youth centres, neighbourhood councils, women’s shelters, religious communities, and local businesses. Depending on which of the four IcARUS focus topics (preventing juvenile delinquency, countering radicalisation, reducing trafficking and organised crime or managing safer public spaces) the respective city works on, they chose relevant local initiatives and organisations and associated them to different events and activities.

A workshop methodology

To conclude the tool development phase and move forward to the demonstration and implementation of the toolkit which is at the core of IcARUS’ 4th work package, each city recently conducted a workshop to gather feedback from the local actors on the finalised version of their tool, envisage adaptations and refinements where necessary, and eventually validate it.

Camino developed a workshop methodology based on design thinking principles, which included presentations of the finalised tools, plenary discussions, work on prepared canvases in breakout groups, on-site digital opinion polls and moderated sessions dedicated to handing over results from the working groups. Just as the tools themselves, the key determining factors of the workshop formats were diverse. For example, the number of local actors involved ranged from 10 to around 45. The time dedicated to the workshop varied from focused half-day sessions to whole day events. The workshop model was thus individually adapted, and all city representatives received trainings preparing them for the sessions.

In Lisbon, more than 40 people gathered in May to discuss and validate the Youth Design Lisboa (Jovem Design Lisboa) tool, a young person-led programme fostering positive relationships between police and local youngsters. The participants, among whom many police officers, youth workers and neighbourhood councillors who will implement the programme in different parishes of Lisbon, confirmed their approval of the tool and discussed the concrete planning of further steps.

In Nice, around 16 participants, among whom social workers, but also consultants in design and mediation service, gathered and validated the implementation of the Ask for Angela scheme (‘Demandez Angela’), whereby victims of sexual harassment can ask for help in hospitality venues. Apart from helping victims, the scheme will also improve the perception of public safety in central areas of the city.

In Riga, 10 participants consisting of police officers, NGOs and local coordinators endorsed and planned the implementation of To Make Riga Safe (Par drošu Rīgu), a survey conducted by police officers, NGOs and local district coordinators leading to an evidence-based adaptation of district policing tactics by analysing police records and citizens’ perceptions of security.

In Rotterdam, a consultation with around 25 business representatives as well as police and city administrative partners took place in September in the form of a business lunch, which led to adaptations in the planning of Spaanse Polder Café, a scheme aiming to foster social cohesion in the industrial port area affected by drug trafficking and organised crime.

In Stuttgart, a workshop with around 10 participants took place in October, presenting the method of the Cart Against Radicalisation to the community of interest, among them social workers and other experts such as the Federal Criminal Police Office.

In Turin, a workshop washeld in November with 16 participants who validated Sbocciamo Torino (Let Turin Bloom). Among the participants were notable members of the committee that will work with the digital data dashboard developed through IcARUS to facilitate local crime prevention planning as well as with other stakeholders. On the same day, a training session was held focusing on how to interpret and operationalise the data provided by the dashboard.

Camino has analysed data gathered during the workshops as well as via questionnaires filled in by the participants, and compiled a report that includes the workshops results and recommendations for individual cities as well as for the overall project. The insights will support the further implementation and dissemination of the toolkit and inform the development of training materials for local security practitioners.