Determination of security aspects - methods for urban planners

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This general information page is a summary overview of established methods assessed, useful to address culture, legal, ethics and social aspects in security-related urban planning. The methods listed below are linked to from relevant pages in Securipedia. The methods focus on a participatory process to covering security aspects of urban planning, involving and activating citizens, as well as following the idea of citizens' ownership of security.

This idea is central to the European Union's approach to security research and the concept of societal security. Moreover, citizen involvement is important to determine risk and security aspects to address in urban planning, and it is important to increase acceptance of urban planning decisions, their implementation, and the built environment they result in. This includes spatial risk information collection and management for municipalities (e.g. to allow local authorities to evaluate the risk of natural disasters in their municipality, in advance of planning, and in order to implement strategies for vulnerability reduction).

Methods to determine risk aspects of the public security culture

Method Description Security/legal/ethics aspects in planning of public spaces How does the method determine security/legal/ethics aspects in planning of public spaces?
Activating opinion survey[1] An activating opinion survey aims for gaining information on residents’ views and attitudes. The methods further allow for encouraging the citizens to stand up for their interests and to participate in developing plans and urban development.

Process: Key individuals and residents are interviewed, material is evaluated and observations are made. Residents are informed in writing about the actual survey in advance; trained interviewers use an interview skeleton with open questions to do one-to-one interviews. In contrast to most conventional surveys, an activating opinion survey is not a one-off event, but the kick-off to a fairly long-term process; so it involves a good deal of organization in advance and subsequent work.

The aim is to identify residents’ fears, wishes, and worries; at the same time, residents are asked what solutions occur to them, and how interested they would be in taking part in implementing the ideas in question.
  • Suitable for finding out the interests and needs of people living in a particular area
The survey is evaluated and the results presented to the residents, with the aim of defining steps toward realisation. Interest or action groups are formed with a view to this.
Safety Audit[2] The Safety Audit[3] originally was designed by the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) in Toronto striving for building womens’ skills and making their communities safer. Women’s safety audits are an internationally acknowledged practice that help equip women and communities to identify what corrective measures are needed to improve personal safety in urban settings.

Safety audits encourage local and context-specific solutions to issues of insecurity and promote partnerships and joint solutions between residents and their local governments.

Process: Usually, a safety audit starts with a group of residents, and possibly other community members who meet and discuss spaces in their community that feel unsafe. Safety audit groups generally work best when members are diverse, and therefore represent a variety of safety concerns (e.g. younger and older participants, disabled, different ethnic backgrounds). Unsafe spaces might include a shopping centre parking lot, a pathway between residences, a water source, or a public housing development. After the safety audit group has chosen an unsafe space, they visit the space together and note the factors or characteristics that they think make it unsafe (usually with the help of a pre-made checklist). Once a safety audit has been completed, the group makes a series of recommendations to their local government and other community members to try and improve the space.

Factors or characteristics that make a space feel unsafe might include poor lighting, negative graffiti messages, or an isolated location.

View checklist: http://www.endvawnow.org/en/articles/262-ask-questions-about-womens-safety-in-the-city.html

Safety audits encourage local and context-specific solutions to issues of insecurity, and promote partnerships and joint solutions between women and their local governments. Safety Audits can equip women and communities to identify what corrective measures are needed to improve personal safety in urban settings.
Focus Group[4] Process: A Focus Group is a chaired discussion on a pre-selected topic with 8 to 15 participants. A cohesive “group view” is developed. The group discussion and proceeding is recorded (video- or sound-supported, minutes etc.) and evaluated according to content considering emotional aspects and body language during the group discussion. Suitable:
  • For identifying motives for a particular type of behaviour and revealing areas of difficulty;
  • For obtaining information and ideas with which to handle a particular issue in the process of planning urban spaces.
The aim is to develop a cohesive “group view” by encouraging group-dynamic processes. Structure of the Focus Group can be specifically chosen by the chair; e.g. an initial round gathering motives, individual point of views, individual affection; or specialised input providing differing developments or approaches.
Planning for Real[5] Planning for Real is a community-oriented planning procedure designed to activate people (the idea is “It’s our place – let’s take matters into our own hands”).

Process: The aim is to lessen difficulties in communicating between individuals affected in different ways, to bring out latent potential, resources and deficiencies, and to create an atmosphere of cooperative action among neighbours, experts and local interest groups.

The method is used:
  • For encouraging ordinary citizens to get involved in structuring their surroundings or their workplace;
  • For minimising obstacles to communication;
  • For tapping existing local resources;
  • For identifying and solving risk aspects through common planning.
The process consists of a number of steps, each with differing opportunities for communication and participation: initiative, model, presentation, ”Who can do what?”, pooling suggestions, setting up working groups, priorities and scheduling, plan of campaign.
Methods of Local Open Dialogue[6]: The methods are used
  • For risk communication
  • For perception evaluation and assessment
Citizens exhibition The so called Citizens Exhibition is a method that uses linguistic and visual mediators (photos and interview excerpts) to create a discussion platform for the citizens affected by the urban planning process. Duration approx. 1 year. The method is used in medium to long term urban development and spatial planning processes.
Experts Forum Experts forums or working groups with representatives of different urban planning teams (management, consulting, architects, etc.) The aim of this method is to develop typical project outlines.
Interviews /surveys Stakeholders: citizens, experts Interviews/surveys
Local dialogue Citizens' assembly with the aim to discuss issues of regional development.

Process: Based on brainstorming, thematic priorities are defined and appropriate working groups formed to discuss them.

Discussions and brainstorming
Round table Round tables are distinguished through the fact that representatives of organised or non-organised groups affected by the same problem and with different interests get together and discuss their concerns. This method is applied to solve problems in the field of urban development, urban renewal, sustainable development etc
Future workshops Future workshops are dialogic, open-ended and democratic processes for developing and testing new ideas, projects and solutions. Development of new projects and solutions

Methods to determine legal aspects in planning of public spaces

Method Description Security/legal/ethics aspects in planning of public spaces How does the method determine security/legal/ethics aspects in planning of public spaces?
Experimental Participation Method[7] The method is a participatory process, where the future residents are able to influence the decisions on their future living environment. They are influencing the planning and construction from the very beginning and help produce building guidelines, which usually come »from above«.

Experiment: Each family reserved a lot by paying a few hundred Euros, and had an opportunity to have a say in the construction and other matters as the housing area was built. Several meetings led by a project coordinator, who served as a link between the future residents and the city, were identified possible problems in planning the housing area. The group reached decisions by consensus, that was later adopted by the city.

Smaller-scale resident participation should be implemented to improve the quality of the living environments (e.g. planning of recreational areas, green structures) in areas already built. The first point illustrates how the future residents were unfamiliar with the wide range of aspects related to the planning of a new housing area. Learning was a central aspect of the process. The second positive experience contributes to future problem-solving, creating a feeling of safety and a good general atmosphere. The third point, empowerment, was the most concrete of the three positive experiences. The participants felt they actually got more than they had paid for, because they were able to influence many of the visual and functional aspects of their future neighbourhood.
Advocacy planning[8] An advocacy planner’s main activities are informing ordinary citizens about planning issues, working out suggestions together with ordinary citizens, representing the latter before official bodies such as the city administration, promoting and chairing discussion processes, etc. Advocacy planning is mostly employed at local or regional level. Suitable:
  • For supporting articulation and consideration of those parts of the population in planning processes which have difficulty in expressing themselves, are socially disadvantaged or are not organised to voice their concerns;
  • For ensuring that all segments of the population affected by a planning process are taken into account even-handedly;
  • For mediating between the everyday world of ordinary citizens and the perspective of experts.
Advocacy planning should not lead to ordinary citizens being pushed into passive roles or treated like children; instead, it should help them to stand up for their own interests and make it easier to compensate for possible discrimination
Cooperative Discourse[9] Cooperative discourse is a combination of elements of mediation, the Delphi survey and the citizen juries aimed at solving planning assignments.

Process: The first step of this participatory method is to draw up a catalogue of criteria for assessing various planning options; here, a mediator works with representatives of the interest groups affected. In step two experts analyze the likely effects of the various planning options in a Delphi survey. In the third and final step citizens selected at random evaluate the options in a citizen jury, with the aid of the catalogue of criteria and the experts’ analyses.

Suitable
  • For very complex decision processes;
  • For use with regional planning issues where latent or open conflicts exist;
  • Determination of legal aspect in planning public spaces.
The outcome of cooperative discourses are recommendations to the politicians (decision-makers).
Focus Group[10] Process: In a Focus Group, 8 to 15 persons take part in a chaired discussion on a predetermined topic; this can lead to a cohesive “group view” developing. Suitable:

For identifying motives for a particular type of behaviour and revealing areas of difficulty; For obtaining information and ideas with which to handle a particular issue in the process of planning urban spaces.

In a Focus Group, a specific issue is discussed in a goal-oriented way, while group-dynamic processes are encouraged: Differing perceptions collide, and individual points of view need to be justified, with spontaneous emotional reactions being common.

Methods to determine ethics aspects in planning of public spaces

Method Description Security/legal/ethics aspects in planning of public spaces How does the method determine security/legal/ethics aspects in planning of public spaces?
Neosocratic Dialogue[11] Neosocratic Dialogue is an instrument for discussing very general, basic questions, usually of an ethical-philosophical nature, with ordinary citizens.

Process: To kick off a question that is central to the urban planning topic in question is put as clearly and simply as possible. In the next step, instances of the participants’ actual experience are gathered. An example is selected as the starting-point for further analysis and argument.

The method is used in assessing the impact of new technologies and planning of public spaces. Assumptions, reasons and points of view are “held up to the light”, and the course the discussion takes is documented.
Participatory Diagnosis[12] This method identifies factors that make girls/women insecure in cities and communities. The process of working with (young) women can be much easier if community decision-makers and community organiszations work with them to identify the places, circumstances, and issues that cause the greatest sense of insecurity. . Suitable:
  • For identifying motives for a particular type of behaviour and revealing areas of difficulty;
  • For obtaining information and ideas with which to handle a particular issue in the process of planning urban spaces.
Participatory diagnoses are important because they give girls/women a chance to tell the community what makes them feel insecure and what kinds of violence they face.
Dynamic Facilitation[13] Dynamic Facilitation is an open, chaired group discussion with a variable number of participants.

Process: The method relies on the participants' creativity in finding a solution, and deliberately avoids conventional, linear facilitation structures. Dynamic Facilitation is used extensively in organisational and management consulting, but can be transferred to other areas. It was originally developed by Jim Rough in the U.S..

Creative searching for solutions while developing mutual trust within a defined group, where all the participants are genuinely anxious to achieve a solution and where the issue is emotionally charged. Dynamic Facilitation is particularly suitable to support a common definition of the definition of the problem,channel proposals for solutions to the problem, objections to the proposed solutions, and to channel emotions that may be involved.
Focus Group[14] Process: In a Focus Group 8 to 15 persons take part in a chaired discussion on a predetermined topic; this can lead to the development of a cohesive “group view”. Suitable:
  • for identifying motives for a particular type of behaviour and revealing areas of difficulty;
  • for obtaining information and ideas with which to handle a particular issue in the process of planning urban spaces.
In a Focus Group, a specific issue is discussed in a goal-oriented way, while group-dynamic processes are encouraged: Differing perceptions collide and individual points of view need to be justified, with spontaneous emotional reactions being common.
Safety Audits and Checklists[15] The Safety Audit is a leading tool originally designed by the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) in Toronto for women to use in order to build their skills and make their communities feel safer.

Process: Usually, a women’s safety audit starts with a group of women, and possibly other community members who meet and discuss spaces in their community that feel unsafe. Safety audit groups generally work best when members are diverse and therefore represent a variety of safety concerns (e.g. younger and older women, disabled women, women from different ethnic backgrounds). Unsafe spaces might include a shopping centre parking lot, a pathway between residences, a water source, or a public housing development. After the Safety Audit group has chosen an unsafe space, they go together to that space and note the factors or characteristics that they think make it unsafe (usually with the help of a pre-made checklist). Once a Safety Audit has been completed, the group makes a series of recommendations to their local government and other community members to try and improve the space.

Factors or characteristics that make a space feel unsafe might include poor lighting, negative graffiti messages, or an isolated location.

View checklist: http://www.endvawnow.org/en/articles/262-ask-questions-about-womens-safety-in-the-city.html

Safety audits encourage local and context-specific solutions to issues of insecurity and promote partnerships as well as joint solutions between women and their local governments. Women’s safety audits are now said to be an internationally recognised practice that can equip women and communities to identify what corrective measures are needed to improve personal safety in urban settings.
Future Workshop[16] 3 phase process: Criticism phase: analysing the current situation and identifying the problems. Fantasy phase: developing ideas and suggestions (initially these can perfectly well be utopian – obstacles in the real world are ignored at this stage). Realisation phase: structuring the suggestions, investigating how realistic they are, and reaching agreement on what happens next. Method used:
  • For developing visions, e.g. when a statement of principles, a development scenario, a far-reaching project for the future, etc. is to be put together;
  • Where new, creative solutions for existing problems or issues are to be found.
In a Future Workshop the participants are encouraged to develop imaginative, unconventional solutions to issues of current interest, by means of an atmosphere designed to promote creativity
Citizen Jury[17] Process: In a Citizen Jury, individuals selected at random (not as representatives of organisations) draw up a “citizens’ assessment” of a particular issue, based on their own experience and knowledge. The participants make their recommendations and assessments from the point of view of the common weal, and on the jury they do not represent any special interests. Suitable:
  • For local and regional planning assignments,
  • Developing overall strategies where it is important that representatives of as many segments of the population as possible should take part on an equal footing
  • Where stakeholders’ practical knowledge and specialists’ expertise need to be combined.
All participants are informed in detail about the project in question, and have opportunities to talk with stakeholders, experts, the authorities etc. The participants work through the various aspects of the project in small groups of constantly changing composition The findings are summarised in a citizens’ assessment, that is passed to the initiators.

Footnotes and references

  1. Participation & Sustainable Development in Europe. Retrieved from: http://www.partizipation.at/activating-opinion.html
  2. UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Retrieved from: http://www.endvawnow.org/en/articles/262-ask-questions-about-womens-safety-in-the-city.html
  3. UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Retrieved from: http://www.endvawnow.org/en/articles/262-ask-questions-about-womens-safety-in-the-city.html
  4. Participation & Sustainable Development in Europe. Retrieved from: http://www.partizipation.at/focus-group.html
  5. Planning for Real®. Retrieved from: http://www.planningforreal.org.uk/default.html; Technologie-Netzwerk Berlin e.V. Retrieved from: http://www.planning-for-real.de/
  6. Risk Management at the Frankfurt/Main Airport. Report commissioned by the Regional Dialogue Forum on the Frankfurt Airport. Retrieved from: http://www.forum-flughafen-region.de/fileadmin/files/Archiv/Archiv_RDF_Gutachten/Risikomanagement_Gutachten.pdf
  7. Public Participation in Urban Planning and Strategies. Retrieved from: http://www.mecibs.dk/brochures/07Publicpart.pdf
  8. Participation & Sustainable Development in Europe. Retrieved from: http://www.partizipation.at/advocacy-planning.html
  9. Participation & Sustainable Development in Europe. Retrieved from: http://www.partizipation.at/coop-discourse.html
  10. Participation & Sustainable Development in Europe. Retrieved from: http://www.partizipation.at/focus-group.html
  11. Participation & Sustainable Development in Europe. Retrieved from: http://www.partizipation.at/neosocr-dialogue.html
  12. UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Retrieved from: http://www.endvawnow.org/uploads/modules/pdf/1304107021.pdf; http://www.endvawnow.org/en/articles/261-general.html
  13. Participation & Sustainable Development in Europe. Retrieved from: http://www.partizipation.at/dynamic_facilitation_en.html
  14. Participation & Sustainable Development in Europe. Retrieved from: http://www.partizipation.at/focus-group.html
  15. UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Retrieved from: http://www.endvawnow.org/en/articles/262-ask-questions-about-womens-safety-in-the-city.html
  16. Participation & Sustainable Development in Europe. Retrieved from: http://www.partizipation.at/future-workshop.html
  17. Participation & Sustainable Development in Europe. Retrieved from: http://www.partizipation.at/citizen-jury.html