Brasov, Romania, September 2019 – As part of the PRoTECT project (Public Resilience using TEchnology to Counter Terrorism), Efus and the city of Brasov (RO) organised on 17 July in Brasov a seminar on “Identifying vulnerabilities and mitigating the risk of terrorist threats in public spaces: Cooperation among all stakeholders”, which gathered some 85 participants from 13 European countries – local and regional authorities, law enforcement agencies, experts, security practitioners and other stakeholders.
The meeting had three objectives: to exchange and discuss common solutions among relevant stakeholders across Europe; to present the assessments conducted in five pilot partner cities (Eindhoven, Malaga, Larissa, Vilnius and Brasov), and to present the tool developed by the European Commission to assess the vulnerabilities of urban public spaces as well as its user guide, which was developed by TNO and Efus.
> Strengthening knowledge on the protection of public spaces
The seminar was opened by the mayor of Brasov, George Scripcaru, and the director of the Romanian police’s Central Intelligence Analysis Unit, Viorel Traian Mihăiță. They highlighted the important role of local authorities in counterterrorism and the need to raise awareness and increase knowledge on how to protect public spaces from terrorist attacks. The PRoTECT coordinator from the Dutch Institute for Technology, Safety & Security (DITSS), Peter van den Crommert, presented the project’s aims, activities and upcoming events.
The founder of DSP-Groep, an Amsterdam-based independent institute for policy research and social innovation, Paul van Soomeren, who is also chair of the working group of the European Committee on Standardisation (CEN), made an intervention on the protection of soft targets and urban crowded places. He said there are now concerns that some security measures have an exclusionary effect that can generate feelings of insecurity, contrary to what is sought. He stressed the need to use other crime prevention approaches that involve collaborative working and broad engagement with all parts of the community.
> The importance of a well-coordinated partnership
A panel discussion was then held on the “cooperation with a wide range of stakeholders to mitigate emerging challenges”. The objective was to examine how multilevel stakeholders’ responsibilities for managing the security of soft targets can reduce the vulnerabilities of these sites. The speakers were: Max Brant, Policy Officer, DG Home, European Commission; Patrick Padding, Core group leader European Network of Law Enforcement Technology Services (ENLETS); Viorel Traian Mihăiță, Director of the Romanian police’s Central Intelligence Analysis Unit; Leszek Walczak, Municipal Police Commandant, City of Gdansk; Marta Lopes, Coordinator of the Strong Cities Network at the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD).
The session highlighted the fact that protecting public spaces poses particular challenges for Member States due to the variety of public places that have been or could be targeted, their different characteristics, the variety of actors involved in the protection of such sites, the risk of mass casualties and, importantly, the imperative to strike a balance between improving security and preserving the open nature of public spaces, ensuring that citizens can continue their daily lives.
> Terrorist organisations innovate, but so do technologies and cities
The session explored three topics. The first was the EU Commission’s action plan, which fosters cooperation with a wide range of stakeholders, such as local and regional authorities and private operators. The second one was cooperation and information sharing among all stakeholders, which are essential because threats evolve and adapt, but not yet fluid and systematic enough. The third topic was the protection of soft targets: terrorist organisations are continuously trying to innovate on their techniques and modi operandi, but at the same time technologies are multiplying and examples of safe and smart cities emerge across the world, especially in the context of terrorism. Usually these technologies are expensive and cities do not have the necessary economic and human resources for proper adoption.
> Vulnerability Assessment tool and field visit
The second half of the seminar was devoted to presenting the Vulnerability Assessment tool created by the DG Home and the accompanying user manual developed by TNO and Efus in the framework of PRoTECT.
Furthermore, a field visit was organised in Brasov’s main square, whose vulnerability has been assessed through the project.
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