Cities as Safe Places

Security is an inherent quality of cities. Security means literally ‘without care’ or ‘careless’ which is exactly how we feel in places that are free from danger or offer no or little harm. We expect from cities to provide secure places, places of vitality, attractiveness and diversity, resulting from a wide range of people coming together, for different purposes. Therefore, the meaning of security as ‘carefree’ intertwines with the meaning of city itself1, one that is plural in essence. This characteristic of the city turns in to qualities and become the reason why more and more people live in urban areas. Nowadays, 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in cities, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66 per cent by 2050 while Sweden has experienced the strongest trend of urbanization in Europe since mid-2000s.

Yet, the world has witnessed growing threats to the essential nature of cities and small communities. Whether it is the ‘old’ threats, such as becoming a victim of crime or ‘newer’ ones such as terrorism, natural catastrophes or other types of harm, the contemporary order demands news ways to cope with and respond to risks and fears in everyday life. A complex and wide range of knowledge supply must be in place to tackle threats in society that disable communities and affect people’s lives. It is a fundamental requirement for engineering and planning to be able to plan, build and manage environments so they can be inclusive and made safe for all. It is also an essential part to be able to develop and assess current research and practices to deal with these problems and better inform future actions. Safeplaces network aims to contribute to fulfillment of these goals and we therefore count on your knowledge and experience.

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1 Cowan, R. (2005) The dictionary of urbanism. Tisbury: Streetwise Press.