Projects’ results are expected to contribute to all of the following outcomes:
- Improved vulnerability assessments by law enforcement and local managers of public spaces with a specific focus on countering and/ or preventing terrorist attacks or other forms of severe violence (amok, mass-riots), including attacks with explosives, improvised weapons and vehicles;
- Better identification of specific vulnerabilities and elaboration of mitigation strategies by security practitioners and policy-makers due to the possibility to simulate attack-scenarios in any public space in realistic conditions and to test and train different prevention and response measures;
- Improved training of Police Authorities in collaboration with different public and private actors (e. g., crisis management and civil protection authorities, fire brigades, regulatory agencies, emergency health services, security managers, private security organisations, civil society groups etc.) to enhance their preparedness to attacks on public spaces;
- Enhanced planning capabilities of security practitioners and policy-makers due to the identification of potential vulnerabilities connected to the design/refurbishment and construction/improvement of different public spaces and measures to reduce them by implementing a comprehensive security-by-design approach in urban planning (also including aspects of social inclusion);
- Enhanced modelling capabilities of security practitioners, policy-makers and research institutions due to the identification of potential vulnerabilities connected to the different public spaces, analysis of crowd behaviour and possible emergence of various threats to security in order to minimise possible threats and vulnerabilities and supporting planning of respective resources and activities.
Public spaces such as squares, sport venues, shopping districts, places of worship or touristic attractions have been the target of numerous terrorist and other violent attacks causing significant loss of lives and causing societal insecurity as well as economic losses. The means to carry out such attacks from one or several attackers range from sophisticated and well-planned scenarios including several attackers using explosives and firearms, up to so called low-cost attacks making use of everyday goods such as cars, axes and kitchen knives. Such attacks have proven to be very difficult to prevent and quick-reaction and preparedness to respond are the crucial elements in reducing their impact.
The EU and its Member States have reacted to this challenge in the framework of the Action plan to support the protection of public spaces and the respective staff working document “Good practices to support the protection of public spaces”. Vulnerability Assessments (VA) are an established tool for example in the area of the protection of critical infrastructures. Their aim is to identify the inherent vulnerabilities of a specific target and thus to be able to put in place appropriate mitigation measures. Such assessments are used in public spaces already by Police Authorities in case of large-scale events, official visits or as part of forward-looking city planning activities. The impact on the quality and openness of public spaces should however be minimised as much as possible. This topic requires the effective contribution of SSH disciplines and the involvement of SSH experts, institutions as well as the inclusion of relevant SSH expertise, in order to produce meaningful and significant effects enhancing the societal impact of the related research activities. The full involvement of citizens and civil society organisations is crucial to achieve solutions that meet the requirement of having a balanced approach between security and openness of public spaces. Fundamental rights (including privacy) aspects should also be taken into account.
What is missing so far is a capability for security managers (public security authorities and/or private security organisations) and local authorities to conduct VA with the help of most advanced technological means. Tools for large-scale urban VA should be able to simulate realistic scenarios in any public space of different urban areas and give the users the possibility to test different prevention and response measures. They should further give the possibility for cooperation of the main public and private actors (e. g., crisis management and civil protection authorities, fire brigades, regulatory agencies, emergency health services, private security managers, etc.), and the development of tailor-made trainings. Continuing updates of the tools with the data of new urban areas, new modes of attacks and different scenarios would ensure that such capability is of long-term use and able to adapt to new developments. For that reason, it is encouraged to use the expertise and the community of the Joint Research Centre to disseminate the developed VA solutions to the stakeholders and to adapt it for long-term use. The Joint Research Centre might also support with its simulation capabilities concerning blast and vehicle ramming. At the same time, such platforms could provide support in planning processes of public spaces in case of new constructions, or re-design in order to avoid creating vulnerabilities and supporting a security-by-design approach, similar to what exist already for safety.
Responsible Research and Innovation could be a relevant approach for the involvement of diverse stakeholders, launching debates, and co-developing or even implementing solutions.
In this topic the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content should be addressed only if the consortium deems it relevant in relation to the objectives of the research effort.
23 November 2021
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