What Makes a Safe City, “Safe”?
What is one thing that most people have in common when planning a trip? Sure, they might take the food, entertainment and attractions into consideration before deciding on a destination. One thing is certain however; most people want to go somewhere that is considered safe.
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2019 Safe Cities Index (SCI) has recently ranked 60 locations throughout the world as being among the safest. Topping that list is Tokyo, receiving a score of 92.0 out of 100. That’s pretty good for the most populated metropolis on earth!
SCI ranked cities according to their digital security, health security, infrastructure, and personal safety:
- Leading in digital security are: Tokyo, Singapore, Chicago, Washington DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco
- Leading in health security are: Osaka, Tokyo, Seoul, Amsterdam and Stockholm
- Leading in infrastructure security are: Singapore, Osaka, Barcelona, Tokyo, Madrid
- Leading in personal security are: Singapore, Copenhagen, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Wellington
In recent years, our perception of what we consider to be a “safe city” has changed. Today (2019), 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050. According to Homeland Security Research Corporation’s (HSRC) Safe City Market and Technologies (2019-2024) report, urban crime, terror and natural disasters have long been recognized as a major challenge to sustainable cities and have a significant impact on quality of life and economic development. With a third of all urban dwellers living in ghettos, slums, favela, rapid urbanization is also reshaping the family, the school and the community.
According HSRC’s Safe City report, ensuring safety and security of citizens in cities is one of the key challenges for governments, mayors and policy makers. “Safe City” is an open and reliable solution that provides a variety of integrated operational services for a highly complex operational chain and effective deployment, not only at an individual level of a municipality, but also integration into a single, government structure. “Safe City” with its single set of information-management tools, offers a multi-dimensional coverage for complex and multi-functional operational tasks, a diversity of integrated systems (video surveillance and video analytics, chemical control, emergency communications, public address and general alarm, media, etc.) and support for a sustainable expansion of the present and future services (e.g., eCall, connection of public objects, telephone notification).
The safe city concept integrates a wide range of interconnected disciplines such as risk management, crisis management, emergency management, continuity management, recovery, disaster management and resilience. In addition, safe city covers a range of integrated activities including anticipation, assessment, prevention, protection, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery before, during, and after a disruptive incident.
Implementation of Safe City infrastructure affects the view of the public on the city and on the municipal politics and it will also have significant financial implications as it may limit the capability of the city to grow and prosper.
Once a safe city system is deployed, the municipality can enjoy the added value of utilizing it to drive economic development by upgrading it to a Smart city level which attracts business investment, provides municipal services and ultimately improves quality of life for residents. Moreover, the same system that is ideal for safe city deployments offers compelling revenue-generating opportunities such as traffic control, transportation security, automatic meter reading, e-services for citizens and more.
In a recent article by Forbes, they address the DDACTS, (Data-Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Statistics) which is a joint program that was introduced under the Obama Administration. The DDACTS is a national partnership co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and National Institutes of Justice (NIJ). NHTSA, its federal partners and many additional national organizations provide technical assistance and other resources to states and localities interested in adopting the DDACTS model.
DDACTS employs geolocational data that combines highly correlated crash and crime data, and then determines redeployment strategies for officers and other resources. Drawing on the deterrent value of highly visible traffic enforcement and the knowledge that crimes often involve motor vehicles, the goal of DDACTS is to reduce crime, crashes, and traffic violations across the country.
We cannot determine the future, but hopefully we will be witnessing more cities becoming “Safe Cities”.