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Best practice Enhancers for Security in Urban Environments

Final Report Summary - BESECURE (Best practice Enhancers for Security in Urban Environments)

Executive Summary:
The BESECURE project aimed to improve the way policy makers use knowledge, experiences and data in their decision-making process in urban security. In this project, we developed novel tools that emphasize knowledge sharing and evidence-based policy design, and that are grounded in an extensive review of urban security practices from across Europe. Through case studies in eight urban areas across Europe, we amassed a wide compendium of interesting practices. Based on our case study work and further exploration, we established a robust information structure to capture the essential dimensions of urban security practices and make them transferrable. Furthermore, we built up methods to analyse, compare and share best practices, and built a support platform that brings these innovations together in an integrated manner that provides a new level of support to policy makers.

From our work in the case study areas, we have learned a number of essential lessons concerning best practice sharing. Foremost, we have come to understand that best practices need to be portrayed on three elemental dimensions: the context from where the practice originated, the issues that the practice was designed to counter, and the details of the practice itself.

The BESECURE project ends with a myriad of valuable materials. We have built up a large compendium of practices from our case study areas. These practices give an inspiring insight into the different approaches to urban security issues across Europe, and show how valuable it is to gather such experiences. Furthermore, we captured these practices using a practical information structure. In discussions with partners, we have found that this structure is regarded as a powerful asset. It stimulates practice-owners to give details about their approaches that they might not consider to be relevant but are indispensable for further evaluation and sharing. Moreover, there are many interesting applications of our best practices template and its underlying information structure in alternative domains. For example, with minor modification, our structure could be used to capture best practices on disaster resilience enhancement, community engagement strategies, urban sustainability effort and facilitate best practice sharing in those domains.

In various lines of activity throughout the project, we built up supportive instruments for policy makers and advisory teams. The ‘BESECURE platform’ is our most noticeable output, but its foundation is provided by many project elements that each deserve attention. For example, a ‘comparative method’ that provides a practical way to contrast best practices, the ‘urban typing methodology’ proposes a pragmatic approach to classification of urban areas for use in policy design efforts, our risk management methodology IDAS (‘Issues and Decisions: Analysis and Support’), and our analytical views on urban security enhancements, common urban data framework, work on early warning facilities and trend prediction and so on.

The project also gathered a wide view on the state of urban security research across Europe. We identified many EU-funded research projects in urban security, and learnt of many national innovation programmes. We are in touch with a multitude of stakeholder networks in many branches of the urban security domain. For every focal point, there are communities to connect to, projects to become acquainted with and practices to be learnt. But rather than to become frustrated with the fragmented state of urban security research and development in Europe, we have come to appreciate the diversity and welcome the opportunities for innovation across organisational, social and thematic boundaries in the urban domain. Safeguarding urban security is not a challenge that can be solved by one party or via one agenda. The degree of urban security is impacted by the interaction of many actors and factors. Any endeavour to improve should originate from the collaboration of practitioners and scholars from a sufficiently broad range of disciplines and should be evidence-based in nature – a message that we hope we can pass along to those seeking information, inspiration and innovation in urban security policy making, together with the many valuable outputs of the BESECURE project.

Project Context and Objectives:
Urban security is a complex multi-dimensional process incorporating an increasingly diverse stakeholder-mix. Many factors influence urban security, from the physical layout to the social and economic makeup of urban zones, from the political and economic landscape on a national level to the daily practices of public services that are active in the area. Seemingly unrelated events may trigger sudden escalation of unrest in neighbourhoods that have been under social tension for a prolonged period of time. For example, events concerning the home countries of immigrants may directly affect the situation in European suburbs, even with seemingly harmless events such as sports matches. Police actions against individuals may unexpectedly escalate into city-wide riots, such as happened in the banlieus of Paris in 2005, or even more recently, the widespread riots of August 2011 in London and other UK cities.

It is essential that policy makers have a knowledge and understanding of the factors that directly or indirectly impact upon urban security and safety. This includes an appreciation of security status (such as threat levels and potential for crime) as well as public perception of safety and security. A failure by policy makers to recognise and mitigate such threats and perceptions may allow unrest and distress in urban zones that in essence affect the prosperity and functionality of the area. There is a need to identify and tackle the underlying symptoms that impinge upon urban security as soon as possible to prevent an escalation in instability and instances of undesirable security scenarios arising. Addressing urban security issues requires the compilation of data sets, which are often interlinked in a complex way in order to inform local policymakers and guide policy development, implementation and evaluation

The BESECURE project aims to support local policymakers in the creation, enhancement and implementation of security policies in urban zones. Urban security is a critical subject within the EU, but dealt with in widely different manners across Europe. Across Europe, there are different approaches to enhancing urban security, different focal points, different stakeholders and different results. They do share a common ambition: to create safer living conditions for urban residents, and more resilient communities as to be better prepared against modern threats to urban societies.
To strengthen European urban security, experiences and practices should be shared among urban policymakers. This, however, is not an easy task because of the differences in policies and therefore practices between urban areas, and therefore rarely done. The BESECURE project intends to better understand the urban security landscape (factors and actions that have a bearing on urban security), and to make best practices communicable from one urban area to another.

The BESECURE project has four major objectives:

Objective 1: Knowledge. To develop a knowledge base of the current state of the art and advance this by adding to the current available literature. This will include an identification of the underlying problems associated with urban zones and an examination of best practice in successful urban zones in Europe.

Objective 2: Understand. To facilitate an understanding of the key indicators of urban security and safety, including an examination of economic, environmental, educational and social actions. In doing so, BESECURE will generate metrics for use in the development of an early warning system that can be adopted and implemented by representative urban areas.

Objective 3: Develop. To develop a suite of tools and methods that policy makers can use to gain better understanding of their urban areas as well as providing an early warning system for identifying potential problems that may arise in areas that would go otherwise unnoticed. In addition, an ability to examine the likely effects of policies before implementation will be permitted by the project and will help increase economic prosperity, security and perception of security.

Objective 4: Transfer. To initiate knowledge transfer by allowing the knowledge and understanding generated in other components of the project to be disseminated through a number of different methods (commercial, education, NGO and IT), through the development of a systematic methodology that will enhance decision making and policy support at the European level by providing a common support methodology.

The BESECURE project had eight closely linked workpackages to accomplish these objectives. WP1 (A Common Framework of Reference and the State-of-the-Art) focused on the establishment of a common framework of reference together with the initial state-of-the-art review on urban security. WP2 (Identification, Acquisition, Analysis and Management of Data for Urban Security and Safety) established a common data framework that captured relevant urban security baseline indicators relevant to the case study areas of BESECURE, harmonised acquired datasets and developed the operational database driving the support platform. WP3 (Model Building: Security Enhancement, Process and Methods) developed process based models and methodological frameworks that inform, structure and guide urban security enhancement, and created a process model of urban security enhancement for stakeholders. WP4 (User interface) covered the design, implementation and production of a user interface that provides end users with access to BESECURE products. WP5 (Case studies) managed the interaction with the case study areas, decided on the specific case study zone selection for verification and validation, monitored the progress and ensured that elicited information is captured in a proper manner. WP6 (Evaluation and Integration) involved evaluation and integration of the models and tools into the case study areas. This was achieved by undertaking comparative case study analysis to field test the models and tools in the case study areas. These six RTD workpackages worked in close cooperation to create evidence-based results and instruments that have operational value to potential users. WP7 (Dissemination, Exploitation and Education) ensured that project outputs are effectively disseminated and leads the identification of exploitation and sustained development plans. WP8 (Project management) ensured that the project was carried out in an effective manner.

The BESECURE team worked closely with stakeholders (city councils, citizen groups, social organisations, domain experts) from eight European urban areas to identify relevant practices, indicators and measures: Belfast (UK), The Hague (NL), London Tower Hamlets (UK), London Lewisham (UK), Poznan (PL), Arghillá (IT), Napels (IT) and Freiburg (DE). The BESECURE project team complemented information from the case study areas with established scientific knowledge and made it accessible through practical policy design instruments. By doing so, the BESECURE project essentially provided an evidence-base for policymakers. BESECURE did not prescribe policies or automate the policymaking process. BESECURE created an accessible and communicable background of knowledge and a corresponding toolset that enables policymakers to assert why their policies will be successful, what their impact will be on the long term, and how the effect of the policies can assessed.

Project Results:
A deeper understanding of urban security across Europe
Urban security is a difficult topic to grasp as it can mean something very different from one person to another. Urban security matters and measures in a quiet suburban area are most likely of a different nature than in the centers of one of Europe’s metropolitan areas. Dealing with urban security might mean something different to a politician than to a street worker. Even if urban areas have similar focal points in urban security, their intrinsic local characteristics would give rise to very different measures, and be heavily influenced by local cultural, political and social factors. In other words: sharing best practices is not as easy as it might sound. A successful intervention against home burglary in The Hague might fail in London Tower Hamlets because of a different cultural background of the perpetrators or victims. A riot prevention tactic in Belfast might not yield any success in Freiburg because of different root causes for rioting and scale.

So, in order to gain a deeper under-standing of urban security, we need to explore the various contexts in which urban security plays a role. We have had the fortune to have no less than eight case study areas available to us: Belfast (UK), The Hague (NL), London Tower Hamlets (UK), London Lewisham (UK), Poznan (PL), Arghillá (IT), Napels (IT) and Freiburg (DE). Each of these areas has their specific urban security challenges that make them interesting as case study areas. For example, Belfast is well-known known for its troubled past, but is still battling ongoing tensions between communities. The Hague is a melting pot of cultures among a strengthening international position. London Tower Hamlets and Lewisham are areas that are being regenerated through developments, but struggle with the effects of persistent youth crime and deprivation. Poznan and Freiburg might not be known as distinctive urban areas, but they are thriving cities that attract large numbers of visitors and thus need effective practices to deal with public order, event safety and nightlife disturbance and still maintain an attractive public image.

Aside from their specific urban security challenges, each area battles similar urban issues such as anti-social behaviour on the streets, youth gang developments, burglary and nuisance from nightlife. Among these differences and similarities, there is value in sharing practices, perceptions and problems.

Lessons learned from studying best practices and local practices
From our work in the case study areas, we have learned a number of essential lessons concerning best practice sharing. Foremost, we have come to understand that best practices need to be portrayed on three elemental dimensions: the context from where the practice originated, the issues that the practice was designed to counter, and the details of the practice itself.
The context should include all aspects of the originating environment that have had an impact on the success of the practice, and that need to be taken into account when reviewing or reusing the practice in another context. This would include for example geographic, demographic and social-economic data, but also information about the political scene, the manner in which local government is organised, background knowledge about history of the area in question or specific events that gave rise to the intervention. The issue dimension provides an explicit description of the reason why the practice was instated, including an account of events that have lead up to the intervention, insights into the underlying causes, the actors involved and consequences to the area if the issue is not tended to. The practice part should give an explicit rendition of the intention of the practice, the practical implementation, the involved actors, risk perceptions, cost elements and many other implementation facets. Also, it should cover any available evaluations of the practice as to give an impression why this practice was deemed to be worth sharing.

We have also learned that there is a need for a common vocabulary. We have witnessed a wide difference of terms used by practitioners, and not all practitioners use the same terms for the same phenomena. For instance, anti-social behaviour (ASB) is an established term in the UK that covers many forms of harassment or nuisance, but it often used as a blanket term in policies. In other nations, ASB is not an established term, and one would revert to subtypes thereof in policies, such as street-crime or public disorder. Simple translations are not enough to make practices shareable, and it is vital to understand the local use of terms and their implicit semantics. Therefore, we have established a common taxonomy of urban security issue-, practice- and context-types based on our case study work. This taxonomy has been used to create a robust template for capturing practices. This template uses the aforementioned context-issue-practice format, and ensures that practices are captured in a harmonised format – a vital prerequisite for effective knowledge sharing.
Also, we have come to believe that it is hard, if not impossible, to establish practices that will work in any context. The fundamental assumption in practice sharing would be that the cause-effect relationship that governs a certain best practices is also valid for other environments. If that is true, then that practice would have similar effects when transferred to another area. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. There is little consensus on cause-effect relationships for many types of crime, and the dependencies are usually highly context specific. On a general level there are, of course, major patterns that can be followed, such as the relationships between income, ethnicity, employment and crime, but on a practical level, there a very few common truths. Policies need to be constructed in their own context, with local background knowledge, with local stakeholders and governed by local structures. However, this does not preclude the fact that best practices from other areas can be inspiring, and lead to interesting suggestions. Reading up on practices from across Europe will bring inspiration to a policy maker in his efforts to create novel policies in his own target area. For this reason, we have chosen to build up an inspirational platform instead of a prescriptive platform. The domain is too complex to prescribe an optimal solution to a policy maker, and the best we can do is to provide inspiration, information and insights into the challenges that matter to a policy maker.

The BESECURE platform
From the lessons we learned from our case study work, we have built up a support platform for policy makers and advisory teams in urban security matters. The BESECURE platform is an inspirational platform that encourages the user to be inspired by best practices from other areas and that stimulates adopting a more evidence-based stance in the creation of novel policies and practices.

The platform consists of three inter-connected parts: an inspirational platform, a policy support platform and an urban data platform. The inspirational platform helps policy makers find relevant practices from other cities via an intuitive comparative matching strategy that matches the user’s own context and issue at hand with stored practices and associated contexts. The urban data platform provides easy-to-use data visualisation and analysis features, based on relevant cause-effect patterns drawn from gathered practices and established scientific work. The UDP also includes an early warning system that can project the evolution of relevant data into the near future, and thus can help quickly identify the development of unwanted scenarios. Finally, the policy support platform guides the decision maker and his team through a policy design process in which each step revolves around the establishment of an evidence base, and for which content from the repository is offered (practices, literature references, and urban data). It also includes a risk-assessment based methodology that allows for a critical assessment of the purported merit of a policy proposal.

While each component offers value on its own, jointly they provide a powerful workbench for professionals in the urban security domain. The integrated platform couples best practices, established knowledge, rational policy design and urban data analysis into a versatile work environment in which policy makers are stimulated to think in an evidence-based manner, and be inspired by the wealth of knowledge available. Even though the platform is just a proof-of-concept in its current state, it holds the promise to become a valuable tool for many professionals in this field.

The legacy of the BESECURE project

So, what did the BESECURE project bring us, and where does it lead us? On the one hand, the project might have led to more questions than answers. At the start of the project we were aware of the complexity of the domain, but it proved harder than we thought to find universally accepted statements on urban security. The local context plays a plays a bigger role than anticipated, and there is little agreement in the domain on what aspects contribute to the success of an intervention. On the other hand, we did find great support for our ambition to stimulate knowledge and practice sharing, and appreciation of the approach we took in building our support platform. So it seems that we are not at the end of a path, but rather en route to new horizons.

The BESECURE project ends with a myriad of valuable materials. We have built up a large compendium of practices from our case study areas. These practices give an inspiring insight into the different approaches to urban security issues across Europe, and show how valuable it is to gather such experiences. Furthermore, we have captured these practices in a smart information framework that was built upon our examination of the domain, and gave us a robust template that articulates the key dimensions of a practice – its context, its target issue and the approach taken. In discussions with partners, we have found that this template is regarded as a powerful asset as it stimulates practice-owners to give details about their approaches that they might not consider to be relevant but are indispensable for further evaluation and sharing. Moreover, there are many interesting applications of our best practices template and underlying structure in alternative domains. For example, with minor modification, our structure could be used to capture best practices on disaster resilience enhancement, community engagement strategies, urban sustainability effort and facilitate best practice in those domains.

In various lines of activity throughout the project, we built up supportive instruments for policy makers and advisory teams. The aforementioned ‘BESECURE platform’ is our most noticeable output, but its foundation is provided by many project elements that each deserve attention. For example, we encourage the reader to look into our ‘comparative method’ that provides a practical way to contrast best practices. Our ‘urban typing methodology’ is another interesting output of the project that proposes a pragmatic approach to classification of urban area for use in policy design efforts. Other noteworthy parts of our project are our risk management methodology IDAS (‘Issues and Decisions: Analysis and Support’), our analytical views on urban security enhancements, our common urban data framework, our work on early warning facilities and trend prediction and so on.

The project also gathered a wide view on the state of urban security research across Europe. There is a multitude of work being done on urban security in all of its facets and on many levels. We have identified many EU-funded research projects in urban security, and have learnt of many national innovation programmes. We have been in touch with a multitude of stakeholder networks in many branches of the urban security domain. For every focal point, there are communities to connect to, projects to become acquainted with and practices to be learnt. But rather than become frustrated with the fragmented state of urban security research and development in Europe, we have come to appreciate the diversity and welcome the opportunities for innovation across organisational, social and thematic boundaries in the urban domain. Safeguarding urban security is not a challenge that can be solved by one party or via one agenda. The degree of urban security is impacted by the interaction of many actors and factors. Any endeavour to improve should originate from the collaboration of practitioners and scholars from a sufficiently broad range of disciplines and should be evidence-based in nature – a message that we hope we can pass along to those seeking information, inspiration and innovation in urban security policy making, together with the many valuable outputs of the BESECURE project.

In total, 19 exploitable foreground results were identified, ranging from acquired knowledge (such as practices and literature) to instruments (the BESECURE support platforms, the IDAS risk assessment tool). In the remainder of this section we will describe the various S&T results and outputs in more detail. Where relevant, references to deliverables are added.

* Analysis of the urban security landscape (WP1, WP3)
In various tasks during the project, we looked at the domain of urban security and assessed the current state of art. For example, we explored a range of urban factors which are (potentially) important in defining the boundary conditions and overall scope of the BESECURE project. We identified four prime domains of urban life: Institutional (encompassing political, legal and ethical considerations), Economic, Societal and Urban Environment (D1.1 D1.2). For each domain, we established a comprehensive list of factors that influenced these domains and used this knowledge to establish information and data structures as foundation for case study work and tool development.

Furthermore, we extensively explored the problems and challenges across our stakeholder groups, different perspectives on decision making, the role of data and technology in enhancing urban security and many other dimensions of the urban security policy making landscape. Results from this exploration can be found in D1.3 (‘Views on urban security from stakeholders and EU research landscapes’).

We carried out extensive literature reviews of major approaches to urban security. D1.4 included a review of modern and past schools of thought and types of theories in the area of urban security enhancement. The review covered national and international approaches to addressing urban security. A wide range of sources were consulted in carrying out this review including books, journals and published information by institutes concerned with issues of urban security. The annex of the D1.4 report includes a selection of empirical research and best practices within the field of crime related urban insecurities. It provides an overview of indicators, best practiced crime interventions, as well as empirically tested criminogenic and preventive factors. D3.1 (‘Overview of relevant process models, indicators and methods for urban security enhancement – How to BE SECURE?’) reviews relevant indicators, managerial practices, aids, workflows and other methods for urban security enhancement, and identifies those which are most valuable for the BESECURE urban data platform, the inspirational platform, and the policy support platform. This includes the identification of indicators that can be used to set up a metric for urban security.

We also reviewed definitions and terminology in used throughout Europe, and established a set of common definitions. This glossary has become part of the support system as part of the inspirational platform (D1.2). In addition, D1.2 contained a proposal for a common urban zone typing system which can be used to examine the case studies of WP5. The report describes the process undertaken to develop the typology tool and outlines its role in BESECURE, both over the course of the project and also its value to the end user following project completion. As part of this process, the report describes a variety of common urban typing approaches with a view to establishing the most appropriate method for BESECURE. The Urban Zone Typology Tool (UTT) provides a mechanism for end users to develop urban profiles or typologies based on an assessment of the key characteristics (Primary and Secondary Descriptors) of an urban zone. The urban typologies identified can then be linked to categories of ‘issues’ and ‘approaches’ within each case study area. Parts of this concept have been implemented in the demonstration support platform.

* Case study work (WP5, WP6)
The BESECURE project had eight different case study areas around Europe: Belfast, UK; The Hague, The Netherlands; Freiburg, Germany; Napels and Arghilla (both in Italy), Poznan, Poland and two boroughs in London: Tower Hamlets and Lewisham. In each case study area three types of ‘stakeholder interaction sessions’ were held: 1) Research sessions, meant to obtain relevant data and insights into local security challenges, policies, and practices; 2) Development sessions, intended to identify interests and needs of local stakeholders with regards to the end-products of the BESECURE project; and 3) Evaluation sessions, meant to validate the (preliminary) outcomes of the project and test the usability of the end-products).

Based on the input from research sessions, the project team built up information frameworks and data stores, such as a large compendium of urban security practices. Each practice was carefully captured using a structured format, and stored and made accessible in the support platform as part of the Inspirational Platform. Additionally, a wide range of urban data was obtained for most case study areas, such geographic and administrative information, crime statistics data and socio-economic data. These data were a harmonised and stored as underpinning for the urban data component of the BESECURE platform.

The operational needs of stakeholders that became apparent from development sessions were translated into BESECURE product lines with distinct sets of features and functionalities. Each of the three components of the BESECURE platform represents a product line: BESECURE as an inspirational platform, as a policy support platform and as an urban data platform.

The evaluation sessions in the later stages of the project contained two major parts: 1) Evaluating and communicating the value of BESECURE features and functions: clarifying the needs and requirements of stakeholders in relation to the BESECURE product lines under development. 2) Evaluating specific components of the BESECURE platform: product lines were applied in the case study areas and the stakeholders were asked about the usefulness and usability of the product lines. Additionally, stakeholders were asked to reflect on possible business cases for the various BESECURE products.

Through the various evaluation activities, we have received a comprehensive insight into the value and usability of the BESECURE platform and its components. Some of the comments from stakeholders were used to further develop the demonstrator. Some other comments were too fundamental or far-reaching to be implemented during the project, but were noted as considerations for future post-project developments. Results from the case study activities have made their way into various parts of the project and are detailed in evaluation reports D5.3 and D5.4. Report D6.3 (An evaluation of the BESECURE case study evaluations and support tool performance) describes at great length how the various BESECURE results were evaluated by stakeholders in the case study areas and provides a stimulating overview of they perceived the efforts of this project.

* Coding structure and comparative method (WP6)
Based on the input from the research sessions a structured coding structure was developed in WP6. This coding structure ensured that relevant details and outcomes of the case study research are properly stored and well annotated for later use and reference. The format was detailed in D6.1 and integrated in the platforms during development. The registry was aligned with the other data frameworks and data stores (WP2) were possible and was filled with content until the end of the case study sessions.

One of the underlying assumptions of this project is that there is merit to improving practice sharing among professionals. By inspiring policy makers with experiences from other areas, they are in a better position to build more effective interventions. To facilitate information sharing, we need methods to contrast practices. Based on acquired knowledge in our case study work and desk research, we have devised a method that allows users to make comparisons between practices stored in the case study registry. The method may also be used to compare other sources of information such as literature files and data files. Together with the coding structure, the comparative method was used in WP4 as the underlying structure for the BESECURE platform.

Cities across Europe are experimenting with innovative measures to enhance security. By trial and error they gradually develop approaches (practices) that are not only effective and efficient in tackling different kinds of security-related issues but also tailor-made for the specific urban environment. Although each city operates in a unique political-institutional and socio-economic setting (no city has an equal twin), the security problems cities encounter and the solutions to deal with these problems are to some extent comparable. A practice that works in the context of ‘city A’ may thus also be applicable in the context of ‘city B’. For policy makers and other stakeholders experiences with urban security enhancers that have been implemented in other cities are sources of inspiration. But how can users access this capital of knowledge? A considerable part of this knowledge is highly tacit and requires face-to-face interaction between the representatives of the learning city and its benchmark. Some knowledge, however, can be made explicit in qualitative or quantitative data and descriptions. This is exactly what BESECURE’s ‘inspirational platform’ aims to provide: access to codified knowledge on security measures in European cities.

The comparative method – which allows cities to learn from each other – requires a repository (data base) in which data are stored about practices, the security-related issues these practices aim to tackle and the context in which a practice has been implemented. The context comprises the social, economic, institutional and environmental conditions of a specific (urban) area.

In the repository data can take several forms. Apart from full text descriptions the database also contains quantitative data (e.g. economic indicators) and categorical data (e.g. different types of security issues). While quantitative data can be retrieved from various external sources (e.g. national statistics), the entry of categorical data and descriptions is a labour-intensive job to be done by researchers and professionals all over Europe.

In the BESECURE project several institutions collected detailed information about more than 60 practices in eight urban regions. This information was used to develop a coding structure for different types of data. This coding structure facilitated the entry of coded data into the repository, This concerns, for example, data about the intentions and objectives of a practice, the stakeholders involved, the issues the practice targets, the methods used, the time it takes to implement the practice, the results it delivered and the area in which it was implemented.

By coding practices it becomes easier to search for practices that meet particular criteria. If a user of the platform is, for example, interested in practices to reduce alcohol-related nuisance, a simple filter can be applied to search for this specific type of issue. When someone is particularly concerned about such nuisance in nightlife districts – and not so much in residential areas – an additional filter can be used to further refine the search. The results of the search can be sorted by the geographic distance between the user’s city and the benchmark city, or alternatively, by the resemblance in contextual conditions. Particularly this second option is worth considering, realising that remote cities may have successfully implemented policies that target similar issues in a similar context. Quantitative data can be used to calculate the non-geographic distance between cities or districts. The (enhanced) search engine can be used to identify a set of practices that are potentially relevant for dealing with the security issue(s) in the user’s city. To continue the example introduced above, let’s assume that the user selected four practices that target alcohol-related nuisance in nightlife districts.

At this point it becomes interesting to take a closer look at the differences between the practices, rather than what they have in common. The user of the system (a researcher, policy maker or practitioner) might be interested in the costs of the intervention, the timeframe of implementation (short-term or long-term investments needed), the organisational complexity (number of stakeholders involved), and how effective the practice was in terms of reducing the number of alcohol-related incidents. The result is an overview of the potential pros and cons of the four benchmark practices.

Practices may also be compared by considering the characteristics of the (urban) areas in which they were implemented. Instead of using an overall measure of resemblance (to sort the results of the search), the user may now specify what indicators he or she finds relevant. Assume, for example, that the user’s city is an important tourist destination and university town. In that case it could be interesting to look for cities or districts with a similar profile. Indicators such as the number of tourists per capita and the number of students per capita can be used to find out which practice has been implemented in a similar setting.

The comparative methods has been implemented into the support system platform as part of the ‘Inspirational Platform’, and described in great detail in D6.2 (‘A Practical Comparative Method for Evaluating BESECURE Case Study Results’).

* Support platform development (WP2, WP3, WP4)
From the lessons we learned from our case study work and the many R&D efforts in the other workpackages, we have built up a support platform for policy makers and advisory teams in urban security matters. The BESECURE platform is a practical platform that encourages the user to be inspired by best practices from other areas and that stimulates adopting a more evidence-based stance in the creation of novel policies and practices.

The platform consists of three inter-connected parts: an inspirational platform, a policy support platform and an urban data platform, and is built up from concepts, technologies and content from other parts of the project. In particular the following WP results have been taken into account as a data source or functionality concept:

WP1 – core terminology, glossary of terms, urban security typology, urban zones descriptors concept, literature reviews
WP2 – BESECURE database structure, data sources
WP3 – GIS data functionalities and urban security early warning concepts,
WP5 – BESECURE case study urban security related practices files,
WP6 – practices coding structure, comparative method concept.

The platform is a web application ready to be deployed either publicly in the Internet (e.g. for research purposes) or locally (for restricted, operational use). The live version the BESECURE platform is currently available http://besecure.itti.com.pl. However part of the platform has restricted access and some functionalities are not available for non-registered users due to the possible data (e.g. BESECURE practices) corruption and privacy issues.

The Inspirational Platform (IP) contains a wide range of material that is inspiring to designing policies or initiatives to address different types of crime and instability in the user's city. The Inspirational Platform encourages users to look at the bigger picture and explore how a wide range of contextual factors, from the quality of city streets, to the provision of education, or the level of investment in an area, interact to influence for example crime and anti-social behaviour. It helps frame users thoughts and direct users to real life approaches that have worked to reduce crime and instability in situations similar to users. The Inspirational Platform helps users get in touch with experts involved in the design and implementation of urban security enhancement approaches.

The Policy Support Platform (PSP) guides policy makers through a comprehensive process to identify some of the most promising solutions for the security challenges in their area. The steps will challenge them to look at the problems from different angels, to explore what it is that they want to accomplish for their area, and some different options to reach those objectives. The steps in the policy support process draw from the other BESECURE tools (the Inspirational Platform and Urban Data Platform) to combine data and experiences from policy makers’ areas with information from other cities across Europe. The results of the Policy Platform include a one-page report of the most important evidence and promising findings to support the decisions to be made.

The UDP consists of three main functionalities: My project, Dashboard, Data Management, and Early Warning System. The aim of the Urban Data Platform is to support policy makers to make more and better use of (urban) data in their policy making process by using different kinds of decision support tools. Urban data is a powerful asset in the development of urban security interventions. However, policy makers normally use just a fraction of the data that are available, and typically do not take full advantage of the information that data can provide. The aim of the Urban Data Platform is to provide easy-to-use and understandable visualization to generate specific area profiles, which are visualized in graphics and tabular ways to enable easy and relevant interpretation, powerful analytics for informing site selection of interventions and a reporting mechanism for effective and efficient communication with decision makers and those whom the policies and interventions may affect. A detailed description of the underpinning GIS concepts can be found in D3.3 (‘GIS-based modelling in support of urban security enhancement’) and D3.5 (‘A software prototype of a GIS based modelling approach for urban security enhancement’). See below for a short overview of the Early Warning System component.

Jointly, these three platforms provide a powerful toolset for urban security policy designers, researchers and other invested parties. The various components are illustrated in D4.1 (‘Urban security eGuide’), D4.2 (‘Urban security Urban security Policy Platform’), D4.3 (‘Urban security Early warning system’). D7.2 (‘A 'visual document' that showcases the BESECURE approach on a case study area’) provides a visual document story boarding how a user interacts with the BESECURE Platform in an urban security scenario. The use case presented is for the City of Belfast and examines the identification and proposed intervention targeting for ASB and Burglary related issues.

* Early warning system (WP3, WP4)
The EWS makes use of the datasets that are available in the BESECURE platform. The main function of the EWS is to help policy makers monitor developments in their target areas. The EWS uses a time series analysis based on a statistical framework.

The statistical basis of the early warnings system is the analysis of time series. A time series is a sequence of values, which are observed at different serial points in time. Time series often have intrinsic characteristics that are of interest for forecast analysis. These characteristics are trends, i.e. the long-term growth rate of the data, and seasonal components, i.e. fluctuations over time, which may be annual, quarterly, monthly, or even on a daily basis.

To obtain a reliable forecast of a given time series, the contained trends and seasonal components are extracted from that time series and used for the development of a model that constitutes the forecasting system by projecting the observed characteristics into the future. A particular well-suited method for such an extraction of the time series’ intrinsic characteristics is the so called linear time series decomposition. Linear time series decomposition extracts the linear trend of a given time series as well as its seasonal component.

The linear trends are approximated by a linear regression analysis, while periodicities (i.e. seasonal components) are extracted based on a moving average analysis. The linear trends and seasonal components that are extracted from the existing data within the time series are combined to estimate a forecast of the time series by propagating the characteristic behaviour of the time series into the future.

A full description of the time series analysis is available in D3.2 (“An integrated urban security chance/risk assessment and process model for urban security enhancement”).

* Urban security risk management (WP3)
Effective policy making in urban security is mainly about proper risk assessment. The web-based software application IDAS (Issues and Decisions: Analysis and Support) was developed to support decision makers by taking into account and answering typical questions that arise in the domain of urban security. Right from the start of the development of the model and the application software, the capability to address a broad application domain played a major role. Therefore, the application is based on an established process, namely the risk management process of the international standard ISO 31000:2009.

For the selection of suitable measures to achieve security-relevant aims in urban spaces, many questions have to be considered, such as: Who is currently affected by security problems and where? Which surrounding conditions have to be taken into account? What objectives regarding security should be achieved? What are overall acceptance criteria for security and safety? Which risks and opportunities are involved in achieving these objectives? Which risks are most critical? Which risks does one select to mitigate to an acceptable level? Who else could be exposed (positively or negatively) to measures that will be applied? And last but not least, the question of prioritisation of resources should be answered. IDAS supports users in all steps of a risk management process, starting with establishing the context.

In this first step, all relevant aspects of the context in which risk management is pursued are determined. This includes, for example, the daily number of visitors to a market or the number of reported pickpocketing incidents at the market. Based on established time series analysis methods, warnings can be presented to indicate that thresholds the user previously defined will probably be exceeded or undercut at certain points in time. For instance, a warning can be presented if the predicted number of pickpocketing incidents rises above a threshold. These predictions are based on observed developments of past timeframes (hours, days, months, years) for selected indicators. The important risk management element of including relevant internal and external stakeholders is addressed. For example, police officers can be considered internal stakeholders when it comes to the issue of preventing pickpocketing at events with a large number of visitors (e.g. Christmas market, fair), since they play an active role in this issue. In this case the visitors of a market would be considered external stakeholders.

As a further important building block of the context definition, the objectives one wants to achieve have to be determined. In a later step these objectives are linked to risks and opportunities, and represent the root of a risk identification graph.

In the scope of determining the context, the application helps to define overall scales for assessing risks and opportunities thereby addressing possible negative or positive effects on objectives. To realise this, apart from a scale for the likelihood of occurrence of risks and opportunities, their consequences are specified and measured on an impact scale. This impact scale allows for a qualitative comparison of the different risks and chances. The identification of stakeholders, the definition of impact scales, and the statement of objectives one wants to achieve complete the first step in the risk management process.

IDAS then guides the user through the risk assessment process which comprises the steps of risk identification, risk analysis and risk evaluation. In the risk identification step the user assigns risks to all previously defined objectives. For the urban context, IDAS automatically proposes risks based on past use of the software. The user can also specify risks manually. With the previously defined likelihood and impact scales, the identified risks can be used to assign the expected likelihood of occurrence and the expected consequences. Control mechanisms of IDAS ensure a sufficient degree of completeness in assessing the risks, which represents a clear advantage over conventional approaches. The user can evaluate the identified and analysed risks, which IDAS automatically places in a risk matrix. Here it becomes evident if a risk is acceptable to the user or not via colour-coding.

The last step of the process covers the treatment of risks. A measure can be assigned to each risk, which is intended to decrease the risk either by reducing the likelihood of occurrence or by minimising the consequences. The first iteration of going through all the steps of the risk management process is complete when each risk that requires a mitigating measure has been linked to such a mitigation measure. IDAS depicts the relationship between objectives, risks and measures in a graph. Because measures themselves can produce risks, IDAS allows the allocation of so-called secondary risks (and iteratively also tertiary risks, etc.). Figure 3 shows a risk identification graph for different objectives, associated risks, measures and secondary risks related to the example ‘security at events’ introduced above.

Finally, points in time can be set at which risks have to be reconsidered, re-evaluated or further measures identified. The IDAS system is described in detail in D3.4 (‘A software prototype of the integrated risk assessment and process model).

Potential Impact:
General reception and potential impact

The project ‘Best practice Enhancers for Security in Urban Regions’ (BESECURE) developed a demonstration platform for urban security policy makers to support them in creating, enhancing and implementing security policies in urban areas. Urban security is a complex challenge to modern urban environments. Many factors influence urban security, from the physical layout to the social and economic makeup of urban zones, from national policies to the daily practices of local public services. These developments demand a better understanding of urban security throughout Europe and more sensible policy development and implementation on these matters. The BESECURE project improves our understanding of the urban security landscape (factors and actions that have a bearing on urban security), and makes best practices communicable from one urban area to another. The BESECURE project enhances policy design by providing access to best practices that are in use throughout Europe. Furthermore, by providing data visualisation and assessment tools and smart policy design guidelines, local policy makers are a better position to assess the impact of their proposed practices and thus make more effective decisions.

Through a comprehensive evaluation process, we have gathered a thorough view of the operational value or our project results for different user-groups and environments. Through the evaluation sessions, we have come to realise that the perception of operational value differed widely across types of stakeholders and across case areas. Some stakeholders appreciated the possibility to learn from best practises from other areas, whereas some stakeholders were more interested in urban data facilities or structured policy design support. Another aspect that was frequently mentioned with respect to operational value is that the content and platforms were geared towards larger cities. This caused some stakeholders to question to suitability of the platform for use in smaller urban areas.

Language barriers were also identified as a major, yet unavoidable challenge. Non-native English speaking stakeholders might generally be able to understand the menu options of an English software tool, but the nuances of the information provided on the platform might not be fully understood or may take a lot of time to consume. However, a simple translation is not enough to solve this challenge, since the semantics may differ from case area to case area. A term might differ in connotation from one area to another, and thus differ in implications when used in the description of a practice. When it comes to capturing relevant practices from cities, the details are important and thus we need to take care that they are properly represented.

The inspirational platform has potential because users consider it relevant to learn from other cities that share similar characteristics and understand how they approach similar problems. It could also provide a useful database structure to store information about practices in a user’s own organisation or area. Nevertheless, many stakeholders mentioned that there are a few challenges they foresee with regard to the practical implementation of the inspirational platform. Firstly, it is very difficult to maintain such databases and the value is dependent upon the quality of the content. Due to the ever-evolving world of urban security, information is quickly ‘outdated’ and it would take a lot of effort to organise and implement a process to keep the platform updated and maintained. Another challenge that keeps coming up is that even though practices are presented in a structured way, users still find it difficult to translate the information to their specific situation. Some of the areas are so different that it is hard to see how experiences can be transferred to another context. Therefore, some stakeholders see more value in a national inspirational platform, rather than a European inspirational platform (also in terms of the language barrier).

The policy platform is valuable because it contains a nicely arranged checklist of topics to address in building a policy. This can be particularly relevant for new civil servants who are still learning the tricks of the trade. Stakeholders also mentioned that decision making is not a rational process. This means that a structure is suitable, as long as it can be flexibly used and policy makers can decide which topic to address first. Also the policy platform provides the stakeholder with a summary of the policy, the so-called ‘One-Page-Policy’, which the stakeholders considered useful when presenting the policy to upper management. During the evaluation process, several stakeholders mentioned that it would be very interesting to see the policy platform as a collaborative workspace, in particular because it would allow them to work on a policy problem together with relevant stakeholders. Users observed that decision making is a collaborative effort and no decision is ever made by one person. This not only counts for people within one’s own organisation, but also between organisations. Unfortunately this insight was too complex and could not be implemented in the demonstrator in this project.

The urban data platform is useful as part of the evidence base. Data (in particular trend analyses) can be used to convince other stakeholders of the urgency of dealing with certain topics. The urban data platform would be of value if it makes the analysis of data more flexible, accessible and user-friendly than the current process. However several problems are foreseen within the urban data platform. The GIS layering of crime with socio-economic factors is widely available – albeit not used very often by policy makers in their domain (mostly urban planning, but also for political aims). The urban data platform needs to be easy to use so that it can stand apart from other GIS applications out there.

The integration of the components is perceived differently. On the one hand stakeholders mentioned they would like to see all three components being integrated: when building a policy, you can import graphs and visualisations from the urban data platform and practices from the inspirational platform as evidence into the policy platform. Other stakeholders preferred some components as standalone products, based on their preferences for components. If they do not see the value of one or two, they are not interested in seeing integration. Clearly, it is not realistic to think that one platform can meet all the different expectations. In response to this diversity, we opted to have a comprehensive toolset as a basis and tune the stakeholder evaluation sessions to each area’s specific preferences, needs and requirements.

Overall, our stakeholders agreed that the project addresses a very relevant topic, and that the project results are a good starting point for further work and local implementations. Report D6.3 (‘An evaluation of the BESECURE case study evaluations and support tool performance’) provides an comprehensive overview of the evaluation activities and gives a detailed account of the reception of our work.

Dissemination

The BESECURE project has engaged in numerous activities to disseminate its work and results. The BESECURE project website (http://www.besecure-project.eu) provided the general public with information about the project and access to public deliverables. Furthermore, the project team has presented its work at many occasions such as scientific conferences, local meetings with stakeholders, European network meetings and other settings. A detailed of the dissemination activities can be found in the appendix to this report.

A promotional video about the project can be found at the following address: https://vimeo.com/121038221

A major dissemination act was the BESECURE Symposium on 5 March 2015, entitled: ‘New Directions in Urban Security’. The symposium was held at the ‘Crumlin Road Gaol’ in Belfast, Northern Ireland. This was a one-day event intended to disseminate the BESECURE project results, trigger discussion among the stakeholders about the current state of urban security policy making, and show BESECURE project in a broader context of related work. The symposium drew an audience of 75 external guests plus 23 participants from the consortium. The audience consisted of representatives of governmental agencies, social welfare groups and scientific organisations, mainly from the UK and Ireland. Feedback from the audience indicated that this was an inspiring and well-organised event, and that the focus on the challenging subject of urban security was appreciated. The BESECURE project was well recognised as the host of this event, and its objectives and results were a catalyst for many fruitful discussions.

The symposium was led by Professor Mike Hardy of Coventry University and had inspiring keynote speeches. Keith Jack of the Scottish violence Reduction Unit gave a presentation on current violence reduction strategies in Scotland. Retired Superintendent of the London Metropolitan Police Leroy Logan gave his perspective on the role of the police in urban security. Nichola Mallon, Lord Mayor of Belfast, showed her appreciation for the BESECURE project and emphasized the importance of collaboration and information sharing for creating safe and vibrant cities.

The symposium had two panel discussions. The first panel was entitled: ‘Urban Security and Community Safety: Understanding Issues and Adopted Approaches across Europe’. This panel was hosted by Mike Hardy, symposium chair with presence of Jamie Lock, Assistant Director of Housing, Poplar Harca, UK; Alison Allen, Safer City Manager, Belfast City Council; Gabriella Esposito De Vita, senior researcher at the National Research Council of Italy (CNR) and Prof. Dr. Stefan Kaufmann, University of Freiburg. This panel centered on differences and similarities in urban security approaches across Europe in order to identify interesting pathways for innovation. Panel members shared local experiences to uncover commonalities in approaches and determine anchor points to improve community safety.

The second panel discussion was entitled: ‘Sharing knowledge across Europe’. This panel was led by Mart Grisel, Director of European Urban Knowledge Network (EUKN). Panel members included Andrea Baker, Director of Housing, Poplar HARCA; Michael Murphy, Irish National Contact Point for Security Funding under Horizon 2020; Alexander Otgaar, Senior Researcher at the European Institute for Comparative Urban Research (EURICUR) and Dominc Kudlacek, criminologist at University of Wuppertal. This panel centered on the challenges of knowledge sharing across European – from a scientific, innovation and a practical point of view. Panel members will share their insights on opportunities and barriers.

Throughout the day, an Innovation Market was available to the audience in a separate room. At the Innovation Market, the audience was presented with an interactive demonstration of the main BESECURE platform and the IDAS risk assessment system. Furthermore, there were poster presentations from various relevant EU FP7 projects.

As part of its presentation to the symposium audience, the BESECURE project consortium prepared a ‘focus paper’ booklet. This booklet contains 19 short papers from consortium partners on their work in the project and related insights of interest, and was given to symposium participants as part of their conference bag. The booklet is available as a digital download via the BESECURE website.

Exploitation and sustained development

The main goal of the project was to develop tools that help local policy makers assess the impact of their practices, and improve their decision-making. The project has been successful in building a comprehensive and pragmatic knowledge base with visualisation and assessment tools that support policy making on urban security challenges by sharing best practices that are in use throughout Europe. In total, 19 specific foreground results have been identified which may be commercially exploited individually or together. The use of the BESECURE platform prototype as support for consulting and advice is regarded as the most feasible exploitation strategy for the complete BESECURE platform in at least the short-term following the closure of the project. These services would take advantage of the platform as a whole or separately: inspiration/best practices, risk assessment (including Prototype Risk Assessment Tool IDAS), GIS, and Early Warning System (EWS). TNO, UU, EMI, FAC, CCLD, ITTI and JVM are committed to seeking consulting and advice opportunities supported by the complete platform with clients following the closure of the project. The ability to contribute to further Security Research Development and Innovation has also been identified. Groups of cooperating partners would be built depending on the individual business opportunities. BESECURE partners, particularly the academic partners, are planning to use the knowledge gained during BESECURE project for teaching and further research. The consortium proved to be an effective working group and the partners are open to developing further cooperative projects together, including participation in the Horizon 2020 programme.
One interesting perspective for further exploitation is the use of the platform and its associated content for education and professional development. D7.4 (‘A virtual educational and interaction platform’) illustrates how the BESECURE results and instruments could be applied as educational devices.

A detailed account on exploitation opportunities can be found in D7.5 (‘Opportunities for commercial exploitation of the BESECURE methods and tools’). A detailed account of identified opportunities for sustained development can be found in D7.6 (‘Opportunities for sustained development of the BESECURE tools and methods’).

List of Websites:
Website address: http://www.besecure-project.eu

Contact details:
Martijn Neef, Technical coordinator BESECURE project
martijn.neef@tno.nl
Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research
The Hague, The Netherlands