Safe City Concepts

A perspective public safety has emerged as an important function for governments across the world. It refers to the duty and function of the state to ensure the safety of its citizens, organizations, and institutions against threats to their well-being as well as the traditional functions of law and order. With more than half the global population today living in urban areas, a safe city is increasingly being considered essential in ensuring secure living and prosperity. Crime, violence, and fear in cities pose significant challenges. The basic principles of good governance must find a direct application in any urban safety strategy, aimed at reducing and preventing common problems of crime and insecurity. The United Nations, through its Habitat Agenda on Human Settlements (Habitat II, 1996), which was adopted at the Istanbul Conference, initiated a series of approaches and strategies to effectively reduce and eradicate violence and crime within the cities. The aim of the UN-Habitat Safer Cities program is to reinforce personal safety and reduce fear by improving safety services and accountability to the community (UNHSP Global Report on Human Settlements, 2007).

The Safer Cities program has the following building blocks.

Building Urban Safety Through Urban Vulnerabilities Reduction

The UN Safer Cities program defines vulnerability as the probability of an individual, a household, or a community falling below a minimum level of welfare (e.g., poverty line) or the probability of suffering physical and socio-economic consequences (homeless or physical injury) as a result of risky events and processes (as forced eviction, crime, or flood). Paying special attention to urban vulnerabilities and violence shall reduce the probability of crime and ensure a secure and safe city environment.

Building Urban Safety Through Urban Planning, Management, and Governance

Sustainable urbanization by emphasizing inclusive and participatory urban planning and local development practices, incorporates policy making and strategy development. This in turn promotes institutional and organizational development, resource planning, and management in order to enhance efficiency in governance.

Improving the Governance of Safety

Enhancing urban safety and social cohesion are issues of good urban governance. They intend to create a city where safety is improved for its citizens and neighborhoods, where there is fearless interactions among people and groups. These are prudent aspects of good governance which create an enabling environment for the inhabitants of the city, allowing improved quality of life and fostering economic development.

Safe City Concept: An India Perspective

The Constitution of India enjoins the Union to protect every state against external hostility and internal disorder in order to ensure that the governance of every state is carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. In pursuance of these obligations, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) continuously assesses and monitors the internal security situation, issues appropriate advisories, shares intelligence inputs, extends manpower and financial support, and offers guidance and expertise to the state governments for maintenance of security.

As per the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India, police and public order are state subjects and, therefore, the state governments are primarily responsible for the prevention, registration, detection, and investigation of crime and prosecution of the perpetrators of crime within their jurisdiction (Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 2006). However, the MHA supplements the efforts of the state governments by providing them financial assistance for the modernization of the state police forces in terms of weaponry, communication, equipment, mobility, training, and other infrastructure. The MHA from time to time introduces key initiatives to ensure that the states and the state security agencies are equipped with the latest technologies and systems to ward off any security threat to its citizens.

Elements of Safe City

An integrated surveillance system provides a safe and secure environment for the development and growth of these aspects. Integrated city surveillance in India’s vibrant democracy and healthy amalgamation of the socioeconomic and cultural diversity is reflected in its cities. Schools, colleges, educational institutions, and technical and infrastructural resources such as airports, railway stations, power plants, refineries (including heritage and cultural buildings), and most importantly, its citizens are the source of a city’s energy. There is a growing recognition of the interconnectedness and the interaction between factors that spark and drive crises and the ecosystem of security management that handles these factors. Furthermore, there is greater focus on the high economic and social costs because of the lack of a robust security management methodology.

The key components available in a Smart City concept in India are illustrated in Fig. 7.1. The major four entities that collectively form a part for a smart public safety and security work are:

  • • Detection and Integration: Cameras and sensors, CCTV cameras, ANPR, gunshot detection, sensors
  • • Analysis: Real-time alerts, analyze and index, searchable video, event search, pattern analysis
  • • Decision: Coordination center, dashboards, command center, incident management, investigative analysis
  • • Action: First responders, on ground action, police or medical, riot control, bomb disposal

Workflow for a smart public safety and security includes.

Key Components of a Smart City

FIGURE 7.1 Key Components of a Smart City.

Source: Meungo, Glorieuxlaan, Vught. The Netherlands.

7.2.5.1 Detection and Integration

Capturing and collating data in real time is the lifeline of a safe city project, especially if the data pertains to an incident leading to a security threat. The idea is to collect data from a wide range of different sources in digital formats so that it can be efficiently processed and used in real time. The detection system may be driven electronically using high-definition CCTV cameras. Infrared Radars (IRs), lasers, handheld devices, or simply an incident reported by a vigilant citizen through a mobile or social media. It is imperative that the relevant data is obtained for recording and analysis. This information is then integrated from disparate sources and systems to create a dependable information base.

7.2.5.2 Analysis

It is essential to integrate the registered information and make it available to the security agencies in usable formats; the analysis tools help assist the agencies in the analysis and retrieval of crucial information from the captured data for pattern analysis, event search, and video retrievals. Information once retrieved in the desired formats helps in proactive planning and decision making. The dashboard reporting feature allows agencies to use the available information better and improve the strategic and tactical decision-making including anticipation, prevention, and resource deployment.

7.2.5.3 Decision

By establishing state-of-the-art command, control, and coordination centers, equipped to accommodate decision makers and facilitate decision making, dashboard reporting, incident management, and investigative analysis of the data collected using the real-time information, the infrastructure established enables effective and efficient decision making, with easy access to information. Action: A team that will act as first responders to an emergency for disaster management should be established. This unified threat assessment and response team will have ready access to the information base, which will prepare them to handle incidents and emergencies better. The team will be equipped to respond to on-ground action such as riot control, bomb disposal, and any other police and medical emergency.

 
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