Anchor: A Campaign Against Crime on College Campuses

As a student on a college campus in the middle of a “not-so-safe” neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri, I understood what it felt like to be walking home from the studio at 1 a.m. in the pitch-dark, not knowing if someone was going to jump out at me or not. It also didn’t help that information regarding crime awareness and prevention was hard to find, and what was available was so cluttered and hard to read that students just ignored it. 

That meant that a lot of students were falling victim to crime simply because they were unaware of their personal risk, didn’t have the information they needed or didn’t know how to defend themselves when the situation arose. Security guards continually patrol most areas, but they just can’t be everywhere at once. Campuses were lacking a key way to help prevent crime: by empowering and enlightening the students, allowing them to become their own security force. There was a definite need for change.

In order to try and solve the problem, I wanted to create a system that would get students to pay closer attention to risk, be more informed of security statistics and forge stronger connections with each other and campus security guards so they could be fully prepared if they fell into a suspicious situation.

To start, I developed a way to “tag” the environment where actual crimes had taken place. I did this through painted anchors, like street art, which can be supplemented with a crime-tag poster that describes what transpired and when. (See the image above.) These tags remind anyone walking by to stay watchful and, I hope, encourage students to pay more attention to the possibility of risk and to be more inclined to participate in prevention. 

In a way, the tags work as a physical extension of the Anchor iPhone app, which I designed to address issues quickly and efficiently as they happen. It features a live map to track guards on duty, report crimes and see up-to-the-minute crime listings, all posted by fellow students. I also created a website component for the campaign, which gives students a sense of community and connection to help prevent crime as a team. 

The final element is a wallet-sized booklet, which includes tips and advice to help students stay safe by arming them with vital information—all in a format that fits handily inside their wallet or purse. 

This project was developed and prototyped for a program called Design Ignites Change, which supports students and the social change projects they develop with awards and mentoring. Anchor received an honorable mention from the program in 2009.

About the Author:

Laura Berglund is a a senior designer at Design Army in Washington, DC, and graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute. She has been featured in publications such as HOW Magazine and Communication Arts, among other various online media.