How can I be safe in cities

Research for more security in the city

Most of the people in Germany live in cities. Almost half of them are at home in metropolitan areas. The networking and consolidation of infrastructures in cities, such as local public transport, airports, train stations and health care facilities, open up new opportunities for business and prosperity, but they also lead to vulnerabilities. The tasks of municipalities, states and the federal government include ensuring security and taking precautions to ensure that citizens are protected and cared for in the best possible way, even in the event of a crisis or disaster.

Urban security in the framework program "Research for Civil Security"

Urban security is an important focus of the “Research for Civil Security” framework program of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Civil security research helps to prepare the population as well as structures and processes in such a way that they are less vulnerable to disasters and can react more quickly to unforeseen critical situations.

One example of this is a newly developed app. This enables helpers with suitable qualifications to be called quickly in the event of a disaster, especially in cities - if they are nearby. Another example is a special communication strategy with football fans that is used to increase security in the stadiums. Furthermore, research partners have developed guidelines for cities so that they can help eliminate uncertainties and increase security with order teams from the police, apartment owners, municipalities and residents.

For a fairer distribution of security in the city: The "VERSS" project

With the project “Aspects of a fair distribution of security in the city (VERSS)”, the last of a series of research projects on urban security has successfully completed its work. The research partners in VERSS, under the direction of the International Center for Ethics in Science at the University of Tübingen, have investigated how cities can create security for all equally. The project partners met in Wuppertal at the end of June 2017 to present the results.

Only those who feel safe in their city like to live there. Whether people feel safe in the city center or in a residential area depends on many factors: For example, how well-lit and manageable public spaces are. Or how quickly rescue workers can be on site in the event of an emergency. The research work in the VERSS project shows that security is not always the same in all city districts.

Practical guidelines for urban actors

Together with practitioners from the social order partnerships of the city of Wuppertal, the security partnership in Stuttgart, the German Prevention Day and the German-European Forum for Urban Security, the research partners have developed specific and practical guidelines. For example, urban actors are faced with the challenge of making public spaces, where many homeless or addicts are staying, attractive for all citizens. In order to ensure that a place is used by different groups, there are not only urban planning measures, but also social offers, such as a neighborhood café or a library.

Establish security for everyone equally

The guidelines are intended to stimulate urban actors to reflect on the criteria for establishing and distributing security in the city. For example, the advantages and disadvantages must be carefully weighed up if security becomes a purchasable asset in individual cases - for example by commissioning private security services - or if security is only sought for a certain group of residents. From an ethical perspective, as the research partners summarize the results of the project, every single person is entitled to security equally.

The topic of urban security is now being further developed with projects focusing on “Future Security in Urban Areas”.

More information on the VERSS project page