There is currently a lot of hype about the “smart cities” concept, and communities and governments around the world are jumping onto the bandwagon. While most of the focus is on eliminating inefficiencies in a variety of infrastructure systems–from transportation to utilities and beyond—the reality is a “smart city” should equate to a “safe city.”
While people would certainly appreciate not spending hours in traffic or waiting for extended periods for mass transit during their daily commute, they really care that these systems will allow them to travel safely between their work and home. Less time on the road means less chance of an accident or worse. People tend to care less about the specific smart technology that allows the police to do their jobs better; they care that their communities are free of crime. The results of these new efficiencies drive and contribute to our quality of life.
People want to live and raise their families in communities where there is a good quality of life. Looking ahead, the true measure of a smart or safe city is a place where their grandkids want to live and raise their families!
To make this happen, smart city planners will need to adopt a holistic approach. They won’t be able to address a certain sector of society, say utilities for instance and voila’ everything is good. A proper approach will require good infrastructure systems, good inhabited space design, good governance, and good community involvement. Planners will also need to incorporate the right mix of technology from all sectors and behavioral science data into their designs.
This holistic approach to city planning will force companies wishing to compete in this space to bring in a variety of specialties in order to adequately meet the consumer’s needs. As an example, inhabited space design cannot be a function of only architects and engineers. It must also include security professionals, transportation experts, government officials, behaviorists, and community members, both retailers and residents.
Creating the Right Feelings, aka the “Puppy Movement”
The reliance on physical security engineering will be paramount as we use inhabited space to mitigate unwanted behaviors and reduce its effects. We cannot lose sight of the human aspect of using new technologies as we move forward. The use of invasive technologies will need to give way to non-intrusive technologies. We want users of the space to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do not because “Big Brother” is watching them.
I call this shift “the Puppy Movement.” Using smart technology, urban planning teams could create an environment where people feel both protected and protecting, like when they cuddle a puppy. The use of a unified color palette, a variety of natural building materials, water features, lighting, and even a meandering sidewalk all add to and reinforce the “puppy” concept. That’s the feeling we should be striving to achieve as we design the built-up environments of the future.
When people feel safe in a space, they tend to use it more. However, should security feel like a “tax” or burden, people will either avoid the space or figure out a way to circumvent the security solution. While cumbersome security measures act as a delay mechanism that security professionals can use to help assess behavior, a “puppy movement” design needs to balance security with the frenetic pace of today’s society.
This will take time. But there’s no better time to start than now.
As the great migration of people from the countryside to urban centers continues to expand, community leaders must meet the challenges that lie ahead. As systems of urbanization become ever more complex, so will the solutions required to resolve the problems they cause. It’s imperative that smart cities not only be highly functioning and efficient, they must also be, first and foremost, safe.
The road ahead means challenges galore with an endless amount of opportunities for all of us. I honestly believe I was born 50 years too early–the future’s going to be amazing.
| Doug Haines, MPSE, is a career security professional, and the founder of Haines Security Solutions. He spent most of his younger days working for the U.S. Government, both in the Air Force and later as a civilian, primarily overseas. He has over 45 years of experience in conducting physical security vulnerability assessments and risk analysis. His multiple-award winning company specializes in teaching mitigation strategy development and building design principles to architects, engineers, facility managers, planners, and security professionals around the globe. Widely respected as a subject matter expert in security system solution integration, he’s sought after to share his knowledge at global conferences. Whether in the classroom teaching college students or conducting workshops for interdisciplinary career professionals, he easily breaks down security concepts that are applicable in a variety of situations.
Doug will be presenting more on Smart Cities and “The Puppy Movement” at the Total Security Summit, taking place on October 7 & 8, 2019 in Austin, TX. Don’t miss out on this free event, register now to reserve your seat!