In recent years, the threat of terror actions in the city has grown. Physical security is becoming an increasingly important part of our everyday lives and more than ever there’s a need for securing our cities.
But along with the need for safe urban spaces, a social dilemma arises: We want to keep our cities safe and keep those who wish to harm us out, but at the same time we want to keep our cities open, allowing for citizens to take part in public life, contributing to their well-being and health.
In ‘Nordic Safe Cities Guide’ publiced by Nordic Safe Cities, former partner at Gehl Architects Camilla Van Deurs suggests, how cities should take a ‘security-by-design’ approach and explore the potential for designing areas with multifunctional elements like benches and plants that incorporate hidden security measures. This way security solutions can add value to the setting and invite the public to engage and interact with them.
In the academic world, a security solution that has a secondary purpose is referred to as having increased “acceptability”. Professor at University of Warwick in England Jon Coaffee has written about urban design and security and how anti-terror solutions can be designed to the urban landscape with attention not just to their effectiveness, but also to their acceptability to the public and their everyday experience of the city.
This type of urban safety is favored by people in the city because they do not have terror written all over them but instead, they improve and add value to a city space.
It will never be possible to fully secure a city. However, we can explore the potential for creating security solutions that are performing both in terms of HVM and multifunctional elements that the public can engage with in a responsible way.