Editor, IFSEC Global

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James Moore is the Editor of IFSEC Global, the leading resource for security and fire news in the industry. James was previously Editor of Professional Heating & Plumbing Installer magazine.
October 20, 2020

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Wireless Access Control Report 2021

City security

Drive towards pedestrianisation of cities leaving public spaces “unsecure and vulnerable”

Architects have warned that security is being seen as an ‘afterthought’ in the city pedestrianisation drive, with nearly half concerned at new vulnerabilities.

As the rise of pedestrianisation in cities and town centres continues, new research from ATG Access has highlighted that 49% of urban design professionals believe that this is making public spaces more vulnerable to attack.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on urban economies, with local authorities left in the novel position of needing to find ways to encourage people back into city centres. Temporary pedestrianisation of key locations has suddenly become commonplace as a result, offering an effective means of facilitating social distancing and increasing outdoor seating capacity for struggling bars and restaurants.

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Indeed, Bristol’s Mayor has recently highlighted how COVID-19 is providing the impetus to turn part of the city’s historic centre into a pedestrian-only zone. As part of the process, pavements are set to be widened, cycle routes improved, and vehicle access is to be blocked to areas of its Old City.

However, the survey of leading architects, planners and specifiers revealed that many are concerned about the potential security risks of widespread pedestrianisation. Without the appropriate security solutions in place, large numbers of pedestrians gathered in a confined area greatly increases the threat of vehicle-as-a-weapon attacks.

In response to this increased security threat, nearly a third (30%) of those surveyed said that investing in temporary security measures that can be installed and removed as needed will be essential to ensure the ongoing safety of civilians.

Iain Moran, Director at ATG Access, commented: “While pedestrianisation offers real benefits for businesses and consumers at this difficult time, we must ensure that the right security solutions are in place to avoid putting people in unnecessary danger.

“It is clear that in some cases security could have been sacrificed for social distancing and designers are seriously concerned that security has become an afterthought.

“Temporary, surface-mounted security barriers offer a flexible, comprehensive security solution that can easily be adapted without the need for any construction work, making them invaluable in the current situation.”

ATG Access’ Crowdguard solution in Birmingham

As an example of the measures that can be taken to reduce the risk levels, ATG Access has recently deployed its Surface Guard system at a number of locations in Birmingham’s city centre.

The council recognised the need to provide more outside dining space for the area’s hospitality businesses, but also needed to keep the roads open to traffic during the week. ATG’s Crowdguard was specified as the solution, with 65 metres of the barrier system being deployed, and four locations having Vehicle Access Units. Extension plates allow the barriers to provide access to traffic when necessary.

James Betjemann, Head of Enterprise Zone and Curzon Delivery at Birmingham City Council, commented: “Crowdguard provided the council with a number of temporary barriers to facilitate a series of weekend road closures to help support hospitality businesses deal with the impact of Covid-19.”

Adaptive security measures

The research also found that many urban design professionals believe there is now a clear need for public spaces that can be easily adapted to respond to our changing needs, including security measures that can be replaced or upgraded whenever necessary. According to 43% of those surveyed, this will be the key to futureproofing our cities going forward.

However, historically this has proved a challenge, with 32% suggesting that retrofitting security solutions into existing developments is one of the biggest design challenges they face.

Iain Moran, director at ATG Access, added: “The pandemic has really brought to light the volatile nature of our relationship with our urban environments, with both the needs of the public and the security risks they face subject to change with very little warning.”

“When it comes to redesigning public spaces, it can prove difficult to retrofit security solutions without causing disruption to the surrounding area. Previously, impact-tested security products have required deep foundations, which means a lengthy, obtrusive installation process.

“Fortunately, security technology has improved dramatically in recent years, and there are now many options available that can overcome these challenges. In addition to temporary products, permanent shallow mount bollards can now require a foundation depth of just 112mm, and as a result are far quicker to install with minimal disruption to the surrounding area.”

Find out more from the survey, here.

 

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