Public Spaces

Public Spaces

Public spaces are places for exchange, culture, trade, leisure and political expression, all activities that are (arguably) quintessentially urban. In this sense, public spaces play an important role in strengthening social cohesion in a city or a neighbourhood. Conversely, when they are neglected or badly managed, they can generate more
exclusion and marginalisation.

Public spaces are also an essential part of a city’s image and attractiveness. Different groups of people use them differently (young people vs. seniors, women vs. men…), which can create tensions among users and with local residents. Furthermore, because of their open nature and, in some cases, their symbolic meaning for a city or country, and the fact that they attract crowds, public spaces can be targets for terrorism, as seen in the past decade with the series of attacks in and against European cities.

How to plan, design, manage, and secure these spaces while respecting fundamental freedoms? This is a complex challenge for local and regional authorities, which are striving to embed security in the design and management of such spaces in partnership with local communities.

> Reports from the 2024 Security, Democracy and Cities conference:
Mental Health in Public Spaces
Protecting freedom of expression and diversity in shared public spaces
How to develop a local nightlife strategy: A guide to nightlife governance

> Positioning
In its 2017 Security, Democracy and Cities Manifesto, Efus notes that, ‘numerous
studies and experiments have shown that the design and management of public
spaces have an impact on security and feelings of insecurity’. It recommends considering the various ways public spaces are used based on objective and subjective data, involving the public in co-producing security policies, and maintaining a healthy balance between the use of security technologies and the respect of fundamental rights.

European cooperation projects

  • The ‘Alcool, ville et vie nocturne’ project (2015-2016)
  • Security and tourism, for a safer environment in tourist cities (2013-2015)
  • Safer Drinking Scenes (Efus and French Forum for Urban Security, 2011-2013)
  • EU Street Violence (2011-2013)

Publications & Ressources

Practice Sheets

Discover the actions implemented in communities across Europe through our summary documents, which present the key elements of each of these initiatives, including their context, objectives, activities, budget, evaluation. All of our practice and summary sheets can be found on Efus Network.