The term “SAFECITY” has recently been added to the glossary of public administration and local government. It deals with a model of coordinating efforts and pooling resources, for the purpose of enhancing the quality of life of the community and its inhabitants, and creating a safe environment for them.
The definition of SAFECITY is: “A plan for combating violence and delinquency, led by the local authority, and based on the coordination of efforts and the pooling of all the resources of the bodies operating in the city.”
In practice, the model is not uniform, and its manner of implementation varies from country to country, and at times, from city to city – in accordance with the definition of goals, objectives and missions in each case. Some SAFECITY plans focus “only” on coping with property crime, violence and vandalism, while others address a broader scope of threats, including terror threats, and also deal with preparedness for extreme emergency situations that are anticipated in the wake of large scale sudden disasters (LSSD), terror attacks or accidents. The plan may cover the entire city, or focus only on specific, problem prone areas.
Axiom Security & Management assists its local authority clients to define their SAFECITY goals and objectives, design the model best meeting their particular needs, and implement it in a cost effective manner.
SAFECITY plans are first and foremost an opportunity – for people – men, women, children and youths, the elderly, business proprietors, clients and employees, local inhabitants, visitors and tourists – to live a safer life; as well as for the local authority – to demonstrate its ability to create and maintain a safe and secure environment for its population.
The main factors influencing the success of the SAFECITY plan are commitment, methodology and training:
- Commitment :The success of the plan largely depends on the commitment of all the entities involved, in all relevant sectors, to cooperate and correctly prioritize the required activities.
- Methodology: The performance of a professional, structured and effective risk analysis process is key to the success of the SAFECITY plan.
Risk analysis is a process that allows to define the risk factors; determine their characteristics; assess their level; establish the level of risk that can be accepted, taking into account existing controls; and recommend the means and measures that can be implemented to mitigate or neutralize it.
Risk analysis is a tool for overcoming or preventing an undesirable phenomenon. It is essentially similar to treating an illness: the doctor determines the diagnosis, presents the prognosis and decides on a treatment and prevention plan. A patient will surely not go to the pharmacy and buy medicine without consulting a physician; similarly, a project of the SAFECITY scope cannot be executed without the prior performance of a systematic and comprehensive risk analysis.
Risk analyses performed by Axiom as part of SAFECITY projects comprise the following three components:
(1) Risk assessment: The entire range of activities whose purpose is to assess the probability that incidents will occur, and their level of severity. This stage of the risk analysis process includes a site survey; the review of past incidents and the evaluation of the probability of future incidents taking place; the definition of the potential adversaries (approximately 3% of the population present 97% of the threat); the analysis of their modus operandi; the presentation of the threats in the form of matrices of probability and severity, based on the damage equation; and the grading of risks, from high to low. The products of the risk assessment will serve as input in the decision making process during the risk management stage.
(2) Risk management: The presentation of the optimal, proactive response to the risk – the full set of activities required to maintain the security and safety of the inhabitants and to mitigate or even eliminate violence and delinquency. This is in fact the implementation of the SAFECITY model in practice – the operational plan developed to deal with the threats that have been analyzed within the framework of the risk assessment, and have been adapted to the city’s characteristics. This stage also involves the prioritization of tasks, taking into consideration the available budget and other resources, as well as the planning of the optimal integration of the model into security plans and measures implemented to deal with the threats – property crime, violence, vandalism, public disorder, terror and emergency preparedness.
(3) Risk communication: The required activities at the political level – both externally and internally, in order to enable the plan’s implementation: a description of the activities needed in order to create the proper image of the risk vis-à-vis the public (in order to avoid making it appear overly threatening, on the one hand; but ensure it is taken seriously enough, on the other hand), as well as the activities required to secure optimal cooperation from the community and the inhabitants. Risk communication will also take place vis-à-vis official bodies (police, homeland security, education, etc.), as a key contributor to the success of the plan.
- Training: The full understanding of the relevant issues by key position holders within the local authority is another element that is essential to the success of the SAFECITY plan. Proper training will provide them with the toolbox and compass required to harness all the relevant entities, locate the suitable professional bodies and individuals, select the most appropriate technologies and find the optimal balance between them and the manpower operating them. Proper training of central position holders and those responsible for the actual implementation of the plan is critical to its success.
Axiom Security & Management develops and delivers special SAFECITY training programs for executives and central position holders. The training is conducted within the framework of the Homeland Security Academy, and can also be delivered at cities where SAFECITY projects are being carried out.
In order to be truly effective, the SAFECITY model must be adapted to the characteristics of each city, the nature of the activity taking place in it and its specific needs. The model must be carefully developed by high level experts, taking into account cost-benefit considerations. It must focus on addressing the threats; however should not impair the level of service provided by the local authority to the community. Such a plan will send a calming message to the public and demonstrate that “everything is under control”, yet make it equally clear to any potential adversaries that the local authority is well prepared for any incident.
The implementation of a high quality risk analysis methodology by highly professional consultants will serve as a roadmap and ensure available resources provide maximal benefits. It will also enable proper planning of milestones, and outline planning, management, supervision and control processes.
Property crime, vandalism and violence are not a stroke of fate. Determined, well planned activity by the local authority, if professionally executed, can mitigate, and even eliminate these phenomena and ensure the community and its inhabitants a high level of personal security and quality of life.