“As cities, we all share the same fate.” Interview of Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam

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The City of Rotterdam will host the final conference of the AUDITS project on 3-4 December; why is it a subject of interest to your city?

Mayor AboutalebAhmed Aboutaleb: In recent years, Rotterdam has taken some important steps in the area of safety. The city is much safer than it was a few years ago. At the same time, we notice that not all of our residents perceive this to be the case. They don’t feel safe in their own neighbourhoods; they avoid taking public transportation at night, and experience inconvenience. Safety is an important precondition for an attractive city where residents and visitors are not merely safe, but also feel safe. The task at hand: How to make this perception of safety understandable? Perhaps even more important, how does one influence this, in the role as municipality? This is a very important question for Rotterdam. Like all cities, Rotterdam will also grow considerably in the coming decades. It is important in this regard that our residents live a pleasurable life in the city.  

“Thanks to the Efus network and the involvement of so many people, we have a significant amount of knowledge and experience at our disposal to make our cities safer.”

What is your main initiative in this field?

A great deal of research has been done on the perception of inconvenience and lack of safety. This research is valuable, but often focuses on generalities. Over the past year, we conducted research in Rotterdam on the situation in our city. The main question was: What makes you feel safe or unsafe? This research provided a great deal of valuable information. It also gave us specific pointers on what to do differently in the future. In some cases these pointers involve very specific points, ranging from the way in which we perform investigations and communication to the outdoor areas and lighting.

What do you expect from the conference?

We would like to share with other cities the lessons that we learned in the recent past. Please do not expect us to have all the answers, but we have learned a great deal recently. Also, we would like to learn from other cities and their experiences. After all, many cities face similar problems to ours. The conference is a time when we can share experiences and valuable insights.

Based on your experience in Efus, what is the added value of cooperation between cities at the European level?

As cities, we all share the same fate. Cities will grow considerably in the coming years and the influence of cities, both nationally and internationally, will only increase in the future. Safety is an important precondition to ensure that cities are a great place to live, work, recreate and have fun. During recent years we placed a strong emphasis on the fight against visible nuisance and criminality. However, is it worth it if our residents perceive things differently? Thanks to the Efus network and the involvement of so many people, we have a significant amount of knowledge and experience at our disposal to make our cities safer.