Checklists for dimension consideration

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This general information page is an overview of checklists for consideration of culture, legal, ethics and social aspects for use in security-related urban planning. The checklists below are linked to from relevant pages in Securipedia. The rationale is to support a participatory approach by involving citizens as the ultimate end-users of the results of urban planning.

Consideration of the citizen perspective in addressing security issues in urban planning

Physical as well as immaterial aspects shape the requirements for planning processes of urban public space to ensure security and increase resilience. Thorough analysis of the relevant users and user groups for urban built infrastructure is necessary to increase factual security, but also to address perceptions of (in)security and reduce feelings of fear in public space.

The following general check-list helps to consider citizens' perspectives in addressing security issues in urban planning:

  • Identify and involve all relevant actors in the process of urban planning, including active citizen participation.
  • Consider the non-linearity based on the fact that in urban systems all phases of the common crisis management cycle may be experienced simultaneously in different parts of the city.
  • Reflect that resilience in cities should be grounded in a holistic view of sustainability.
  • Appreciate individual perceptions of security (e.g. on the level of regional or national patterns.
  • Identify areas of concern and address them specifically, without extrapolating to the planning of the city as a whole.
  • Combine urban planning with raising of citizens’ awareness.
  • Contribute to identifying individual as well as group-specific vulnerabilities and methods to increase resilience.
  • Based on the acknowledgement that public urban space is about living and evolving, not about being watched and observed, planning decisions should provide sufficient space for later changes and adaptations.

Check-list on consideration of security culture in urban planning

Security culture is a specific concept of analysis for culture aspects that also provides guidelines for practical use. Consideration of security culture in urban planning should comprise the following steps:

  • Identify and analyse the social context to which the tool is applied;
  • Use a comprehensive concept to identify vulnerability in order to reflect the multidimensionality of threats;
  • Identify and address future factors of vulnerability and resilience;
  • Identify citizens’ self-perceptions of vulnerability and resilience;
  • Identify citizens’ self-perception of their coping capabilities;
  • Analyze the distribution of gaps between felt and factual security across society;
  • Analyze the relevant public security cultures on both the level of government and the level of citizens.

Check-list on culture, legal and ethics aspects of addressing security issues in urban planning

The following check-list details what it means to address culture, legal and ethnis aspects in security-enhancing strategic planning of public spaces.

Culture aspects Legal aspects Ethics aspects
  • Aesthetics
  • Distributive justice (idea of same security [level] for all)
  • Cultural heritage preventions
  • Sustainability
  • Natural heritage preventions
  • Legitimacy
  • Citizen rights
  • Citizen rights
  • Data protection
  • Personal data protection
  • Functional zoning
  • Environmental conditions
  • Acceptability of planning decisions (e.g., balancing security with other societal and communal values)
  • Failure of critical services, societal aspects
  • Engineering and transportation infrastructures

Check-list on dimensions to consider in order to enhance citizens perception of safety in urban crowded places[1]

The check-list below summarises the various dimensions to considere in order to enhance citizens' perception of security in crowded urban places:

Dimensions with impact on citizens security perception in urban places Aspects to consider in urban planning
People Diversity
  • Usage patterns of an urban area and related needs of the user(inclusive spaces).
  • Facilitation of usage possibilities for different types of people (integrative spaces).
  • Allow communication through the design of public spaces (meeting points).

Marginalised people

  • Marginalised people not only use public space, they also rely on it.
  • The usage of public space should be encouraged and supported by planning toilets, banks, etc.
  • Create roofed areas (sheltered installations) with no specific function.

Local experts

  • Local experts, like policeman or social workers of a public place, can easily identify and broach (social) issues of the area, they represent an important source of information and for urban planners.
  • In each planning step, urban planners should involve interdisciplinary teams, consisting of planners and local experts.
Objects Light/Lightening
  • Public places should be designed in areas with different illumination types.
  • In order to avoid “hot spots of fear”, the planning of main streets, parks, pedestrian underpasses, subways etc. should consider powerful lightening and clear visible areas.

Clarity and vitalisation

  • Urban planners should use more glazed materials to facilitate the visibility and an easy overview of public places.
  • Improve social security by using robust and sustainable materials.

Plants/maintenance of green areas

  • Consider aesthetic and functional aspects of green areas.
  • Avoid planning green tunnels and green areas with no visibility and clear overview.

Environmental pollution.

  • Environmental pollution increases the citizens perception of insecurity on public spaces. Therefore, urban planners should promote long-lasting and sustainable materials.
  • Effective and use-oriented urban planning focuses also on reducing environmental pollution (e.g. waste bins, free toilets).
Dynamic elements Good orientation/Overview of public spaces
  • Urban planning should concentrate on the overview of urban areas for the purpose of orientation
  • Use a clear guidance system for important functional areas, like subway, stations of public transports or pedestrian underpasses.
  • Introduce adequate usage concepts for different mobility patterns (e.g. pedestrian, bicycle).
  • Important target points/destinations should be visible from a longer distance.

Traffic speed and circulation

  • Introduce adequate usage concepts for different traffic patterns (e.g. bicycle, public transports).
  • Concentrate both on functional and aesthetic aspects of public spaces – allow the possibility of “shared space” in order to enable urban and social skills (competences).

Public places as meeting points

  • The urban planning process should provide concepts for different comfortable and “cosy” public spaces, where people living in the same urban area can spend time together, get to know each other etc..Familiar encounters in the residential area increase the subjective sense of security.
Image/Identity of places Image/Identity
  • In this context, image means the reputation of a place, meanwhile identity is characterised by the history and usage of it. It is very important that urban planners consider these two aspects to create secure and agreeable rehabilitation of places.
  • Diverse actions of public participation help to integrate elements of identity and image of a public space in the urban planning process.
  • Each step of the urban planning process should consider aspects of identity and image of urban areas.

Check-list on factors that affect citizens' perception of risk

Social risk perception and communication of risk is influenced by various subjective factors. The following check-list helps to address these in urban planning. Citizens always assess risks, threats, and uncertainties on a subjective and individual basis. This subjective assessment has an impact on citizens' acceptance of urban planning decisions and on the physical results (built urban space) of those planning decisions.

Factor Description/Example
Voluntariness Risks from activities considered to be involuntary or imposed (e.g., exposure to chemicals and radiation from a terrorist attack using chemical weapons or dirty bombs) are judged to be greater, and are therefore less readily accepted, than risks from voluntary activities (such as smoking, sunbathing or mountain climbing).
Controllability Risks from activities considered to be under somebody else’s control (such as the release of nerve gas in a coordinated series of terrorist attacks) are judged to be greater, and are less readily accepted than those from activities considered to be under the control of the individual (such as driving a car or riding a bicycle).
Familiarity Risks resulting from activities viewed as unfamiliar (such as travel leading to exposure to exotic-sounding infectious diseases) are judged greater than risks resulting from activities viewed as familiar (such as household work).
Fairness Risks from activities believed to be unfair or to involve unfair processes (such as inequities in the location of medical facilities) are judged greater than risks from “fair” activities (such as widespread vaccinations).
Benefits Risks from activities that seem to have unclear, questionable or diffused personal or economic benefits (e.g., proximity to waste-disposal facilities) are judged to be greater than risks resulting from activities with clear benefits (e.g., employment or auto-mobile driving).
Catastrophic potential Risks from activities associated with potentially high numbers of deaths and injuries grouped in time and space (e.g., major terrorist attacks using biological, chemical or nuclear weapons) are judged to be greater than risks from activities that cause deaths and injuries scattered (often apparently randomly) in time and space (e.g., household accidents).
Understanding Poorly understood risks (such as the health effects of long-term exposure to low doses of toxic chemicals or radiation) are judged to be greater than risks that are well understood or self-explanatory (such as pedestrian accidents or slipping on ice).
Uncertainty Risks that are relatively unknown or highly uncertain (such as those associated with genetic engineering) are judged to be greater than risks from activities that appear to be relatively well known to science (such as actuarial risk data related to auto-mobile accidents).
Effects on children Activities that appear to put children specifically at risk (such as drinking milk contaminated with radiation or toxic chemicals or pregnant women exposed to radiation or toxic chemicals) are judged to carry greater risks than more-general activities (such as employment).
Victim identity Risks from activities that produce identifiable victims (such as an individual worker exposed to high levels of toxic chemicals or radiation, or a child who falls down a well) are judged to be greater than risks from activities that produce statistical victim profiles (such as automobile accidents).
Dread Risks from activities that evoke fear, terror or anxiety due to the horrific consequences of exposure (e.g. to HIV, radiation sickness, cancer, Ebola or smallpox) are judged to be greater than risks from activities that do not arouse such feelings or emotions regarding exposure (e.g. to common colds or household accidents).
Trust Risks from activities associated with individuals, institutions or organisations lacking in trust and credibility (e.g., chemical companies or nuclear power plants with poor safety records) are judged to be greater than risks from activities associated with trustworthy and credible sources (e.g., regulatory agencies that achieve high levels of compliance from regulated industries).
Media attention Risks from activities that generate considerable media attention (such as anthrax attacks using the postal system or accidents at nuclear power plants) are judged to be greater than risks from activities that generate little media attention (such as occupational accidents).
Accident history Activities with a history of major accidents or incidents, frequent minor accidents or incidents (such as leaks from waste-disposal facilities) are judged to carry greater risks than activities with little or no such history (such as recombinant DNA experimentation).
Reversibility The risks of potentially irreversible adverse effects (such as birth defects from exposure to a toxic substance or radiation) are judged to be greater than risks considered to be reversible (for example, sports injuries).
Personal stake Activities viewed as placing people or their families personally and directly at risk (such as living near a waste-disposal site) are judged to carry greater risks than activities that appear to pose no direct or personal threat (such as the disposal of waste in remote areas).
Ethical and moral status Risks from activities believed to be ethically objectionable or morally wrong (such as providing diluted or outdated vaccines for an economically distressed community) are judged to be greater than the risks from ethically neutral activities (such as the side-effects of medication).
Human vs. natural origin Risks generated by human action, failure or incompetence (such as negligence, inadequate safeguards or operator error) are judged to be greater than risks believed to be caused by nature or “acts of god” (such as exposure to geological radon or cosmic rays).

Checklist of indicators for perceived criticality of infrastructures

Criticality of urban and other infrastructure needs assessing from both an objective and a subjective point of view because security-enhancing urban planning needs to comprehensively address both facts and citizens' felt needs. The following check-list helps to consider citizens' subjective perception of criticality of urban infrastructure and related requirements for urban planning to provide for its appropriate protection.

Indicator Effects to subjective protection requirements Empirical determination
Experienced/expected extent/duration/season of infrastructure breakdown Multiplication of breakdown consequences (e.g. power breakdown in winter season; disruption of passenger transport) raise subjective protection requirement.
  • Interviews, surveys
  • Analyses of available case-studies (e.g. on power breakdowns)
Direct experience of the breakdown Visibility and direct experience increase subjective protection requirements; however, disruptions not perceived can rather evoke unrealistic security perception.
  • Analyses of available case-studies (e.g. on nuclear accidents or on supply)
Impact on/impairment of one’s own life due to protection measures (e.g. obstructions in air traffic due to security checks) Weighing of expected benefits from critical infrastructure protection and expected costs/affection influences subjective protection requirement: subjective protection requirement is assessed higher in favour of the expected benefit
Irreversibility of critical infrastructure breakdown and it’s effects (such as cascading effects from supply disruptions; material loss from flood events) Irreversibility enhances subjective protection requirement.
  • Interviews, surveys
Individual infrastructure dependence (e.g. canalisation-due hygienic measures, water and food supply) Individual dependence enhances subjective protection requirement.
Degree of physical effects caused by infrastructure breakdown (e.g. starvation due to supply chain breakdown; medical under-supply due to disruption of health and emergency services) Physical effects perceived to be threatening raise the subjective protection requirement.
  • Analyses of available case-studies (e.g. on power breakdowns)
Evidence of critical infrastructure benefit Acknowledgement of the benefit of an infrastructure increases its acceptance compared with another less acknowledged; subjective protection requirement is raised accordingly.
  • Interviews, surveys
  • Analyses of user frequency
Optionality in infrastructure use „Voluntariness“ and alternatives for infrastructure use lower the subjective protection requirement
  • Interviews, surveys
Controllability of both use/functioning of the infrastructure (e.g. car driving vs. plane) Perception of one’s own capability to control the infrastructure reduces the subjective protection requirement.
  • Interviews, surveys
Familiarity with infrastructure and comprehension of functioning The relationship between the level of information/knowledge and vulnerability awareness influences the subjective protection requirement: familiarity by trend increases subjective protection requirement.
Spectacularity and media attention for a potential infrastructure breakdown High spectacularity and media attention result in high subjective protection requirement.
Unique identity and cultural value of the infrastructure (e.g. St. Peter’s basilica in Rome) Disruption/destruction of cultural infrastructures can go beyond the material loss and trigger identity crises such as deep uncertainty as a consequence, increasing subjective protection requirement.
  • Interviews, surveys
  • Analyses of demographic/statistical data
Degree of details in media coverage on the effects of potential critical infrastructure breakdown The more details media reports contain on potential impacts from infrastructure breakdown, the higher the subjective protection requirement
  • Media analyses
Association of infrastructure with maintenance or improvement of material status Expected restriction of one’s own lifestyle cause subjective protection requirement.
  • Interviews, surveys
Direct/indirect exposure of one’s own infrastructure and material values due to infrastructure breakdown Perceived high degree of affection increases subjective protection requirement.
  • Index of employees of affected business/industry sectors;
  • Customer/client analyses
Experienced/expected individual economic loss/economic cascading effects According perception of the degree of critical infrastructure dependencies raises subjective protection requirement.
  • Determination of dependent clients and entrepreneurs;
  • Customer/client analyses;
  • Entrepreneur interviews and surveys
Ownership structure of critical infrastructure Subjective protection requirements can be influenced according to ownership structure (public vs. private owners; domestic/foreign owners)
  • Determination of ownership structure
  • Interviews, surveys
Geographical vicinity to critical infrastructure A simple preference for protection of local infrastructure (assumed for geographical vicinity) or vice versa, rejection and awe of involved costs (assumed for geographical distance) both affect the subjective protection requirement.
  • Interviews, surveys
Effects of infrastructure breakdown on vulnerable groups (children, elderly in need of care, etc.) Perceived affection of vulnerable groups increases subjective protection requirement.
  • Interviews, surveys
Hitherto publicly known critical infrastructure breakdowns Knowledge of formerly happened and similar breakdowns either raises or decreases the subjective protection requirement (reflective fear vs. over-amplification).
  • Interviews, surveys
  • Oral history/narrative interviews
Disaster potential of the critical infrastructure (e.g. risks from natural hazards) Highly perceived/known disaster potential increases subjective protection requirement.
Impairment of infrastructure due to anthropogenic actions (human failure, false usage, accidents, terrorist acts etc.) Reduced subjective perception of risk or impairment decreases subjective protection requirement
  • Risk analyses
  • Interviews, surveys
  • Regression analyses

Checklist on types of citizen participation for use in urban planning consultation processes

The following check-list is a compilation of different forms of participation methods in urban planning processes[2].

Those methods can support urban planners who seek to expand on citizen and stakeholder involvement, in particular with a view to increase all aspects of urban resilience, including the societal ones and culture, legal and ethics aspects of urban security.

Type of participation Concept
  • Citizens are informed about their rights, responsibilities and options
  • One-way communication, even if the information is provided at the request of stakeholders
  • Does not involve channels to provide feedback or enter into negotiations
  • Information is provided through channels that are accessible to all members of the community
  • Two-way communication, where stakeholders have an opportunity to voice suggestions and concerns
  • Does not offer any assurance that stakeholders’ ideas and opinions will be used at all or as they intended
  • Usually conducted through meetings chaired by a person representing various levels of government or their bodies,
Consensus building
  • Stakeholders interaction in order to understand each other and arrive at negotiated positions that are acceptable for the whole group
  • However, vulnerable individuals and groups often tend to remain silent or passively agree to negotiated solutions
  • Strategies should be employed to ensure that the opinions of men and women are equally considered, especially in this phase
  • An expression of both power and responsibilities for outcomes that may result
  • Negotiations at this stage reflect the different degrees of commitment exercised by individuals and groups
  • Collective actions result in a mix of beneficial, harmful and neutral consequences that are equally shared by all partners
  • Accountability is fundamental at this stage
  • Sharing among stakeholders with similar, equal status and towards a common goal
  • Highest level of participatory efforts
  • Stakeholders take full responsibility for projects that affect them directly and are willing to learn how to conduct the process from beginning to end

Footnotes and references

  1. Source. Retrieved from:
  2. United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT): Human settlements in crisis. Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Planning: A Guide for Municipalities, vol. 1. An Introduction to Urban Strategic Planning. United Nations UN Settlements Programme, 2007b, 20-21. Retrieved from: [last access: 2011-11-01].