Paris, France, March 2021 – A partner in the PACTESUR project, Efus organised an online workshop in which the consortium (Nice, Liège, Turin, ANCI Piemonte, Métropole Nice-Côte-d’Azur and Efus) and representatives from the Expert Advisory Committee and the Associated Cities Group discussed and elaborated recommendations to improve the planning and implementation of physical security measures against risks inherent to public spaces, on 10 and 12 March.
Protecting urban public spaces
Public spaces are vital areas of urban life: places for communication, gatherings, political demonstrations, artistic and cultural performances and all sorts of entertainment1. They can be subject to a number of threats, such as terrorism, the presence of large crowds and panic movements, but also climatic risks, such as fires or floods. Ensuring that urban public spaces remain safe, inclusive and open to all is a complex challenge. Furthermore, security is best achieved if addressed from the very beginning of the planning and design of a public space – a concept known as “security by design in the protection of public spaces”2.
Public spaces constitute a specific area of urban security: they require a security policy that is based on cooperation between the different organisations and institutions concerned (local authorities, police, emergency services, urban planners, user representatives), in other words, a genuine co-production of security that guarantees that public spaces remain both safe, open and accessible to all.
Identifying the most suitable local investments for protecting public spaces
Being the closest level of governance, local authorities are best placed to understand citizens’ concerns in relation to safe and open public spaces and implement appropriate measures in order to reduce feelings of insecurity generated by risks and threats.
One of the four pillars of the PACTESUR project is the identification of the most suitable local investment for securing open and touristic public spaces through the development of pilot security equipment/infrastructure in Nice, Liège and Turin, which can be transferred to other European cities. Particular attention is given to their integration into the urban landscape, natural and cultural heritage, aesthetics, design and urban mobility to avoid the “bunkerisation” of cities. These security devices also reflect the different approaches of these three cities when securing urban public spaces They also should be seen as further tools that contribute to security in public spaces but by no means a solution per se.
- In Liège, a mobile vehicle barrier to protect the Place Saint Lambert and Le Carré is currently being set up.
- In Turin, a high-tech crowd control system will be installed in Piazza Vittorio Veneto, with the aim of avoiding panic-driven movements, such as the one in June 2017 during the outdoor projection of the Champions League final.
- In Nice, a reinforced anti-intrusion device to protect the Promenade des Anglais has been developed, notably to prevent attacks such as that of 14 July 2016 by a ram truck.
A preliminary evaluation of strengths and drawbacks
The PACTESUR consortium met with representatives from the Expert Advisory Committee and the Associated Cities to evaluate the pilot equipment of Liège, Nice and Turin. The objective of the two-day meeting was to elaborate a series of recommendations for local authorities to improve the implementation of physical security measures against terrorist threats, but also against other risks inherent to public spaces.
The evaluation of each security device was based on a series of 9 criteria and 15 sub-criteria, taking into account not only security aspects, but also its integration into the urban landscape, its resilience and sustainability, or its acceptance among the population. A questionnaire was provided to the participants with questions evaluating each criteria on a 1-5 scale. Participants discussed in particular the considerations that must be taken into account before installing a security equipment, and once installed, how to best manage and maintain it. It is worth mentioning that these discussions constitute a preliminary evaluation of the equipment and by no means are a substitute for on-site visit of the devices installed in Liège, in Nice nor in Turin.
Participants were then tasked with drafting recommendations addressed to local authorities to improve the planning, implementation and management of security devices to protect public spaces in Europe. The presentations and ensuing discussions highlighted the importance of adopting a global and integrated security approach, where the implementation of an equipment is conceived as a complementary piece that is part of a broader security to protect public spaces. In order to promote a preventive approach and develop tailor-made solutions, local authorities need to conduct regular risk and vulnerability assessments. Such an approach will not only allow local authorities to gain better understanding of vulnerabilities, but also not to fall into short-term and must-do-now agendas. The constantly evolving character of threats and risks inherent to public spaces calls for regular evaluations. Participants also stressed the importance of combining temporary and long-term security solutions.
Furthermore, citizens should also be included in the decision-making process, with a particular focus on solutions that have an impact on the attractiveness and openness of local public spaces. This should be done according to criteria of representativeness and under the guidance of local authorities. Citizen and civil society ownership of public spaces should be promoted and encouraged, for example by finding creative solutions or adding an artistic value to make better integrate them into the urban landscape.
Participants also discussed the need for local authorities to improve communication actions and awareness raising prior, during and after the implementation of physical security equipment. This can help increase public acceptance and perception of security among citizens. A prevention culture on safety and security is also necessary in order to improve public perception of physical security equipment. However, the installation of security equipment raises legal, societal and ethical concerns that need to be fully addressed when planning and managing security in public spaces. Finally, these security devices are to be considered as complementary tools that contribute to security in public spaces but are by no means a solution per se.
The main results of the evaluation as well as the recommendations produced by the multidisciplinary group of experts and cities will be provided as a deliverable of the project.
The PACTESUR final publication will include various case studies and factsheets, including tools and recommendations on communication, innovation and cooperation in crisis management.
1Efus’ Manifesto: Security, Democracy and Cities – Co-producing Urban Security Policies, available at: https://issuu.com/efus/docs/manifeste-vang-web
2As defined by the Urban Agenda for the EU Partnership on Security in Public Spaces, “security by design is an all-encompassing concept and a new culture that needs to be developed across European cities. It deals with the conception of city planning, urban architecture and furniture, flows, infrastructures in accordance with security issues from the start. It concerns the protection of buildings, public spaces, critical infrastructures, detection methods and technologies”
The PACTESUR project aims to empower cities and local actors in the field of security of urban public spaces facing threats, such as terrorist attacks. Through a bottom-up approach, the project federates local decision makers, security forces, urban security experts, urban planners, IT developers, trainers, front-line practitioners, designers and others in order to shape new European local policies to secure public spaces against terrorist attacks