Making Smart Cities Safe and Safe Cities Smart

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

I spent a lot of time last week thinking about public safety.  What is public safety?  How do you achieve it?  Well, it seems to me that it could be anything and everything; but that it’s contextual and different for all cities.   In fact, three different “public safety” articles jumped out at me as I was reading the International Herald Tribune one morning: 

  • City faces a growing threat from rising seas and floodingNew York is facing a combined threat of rising seas and increasingly severe storm flooding, putting streets and infrastructure along its waterfront at risk.
  • Traffic defies a revolution.  According to the article, there are about 2.2 million vehicles in Cairo, where licenses are generally awarded without a road test and drivers “often shrug off stoplights and traffic rules.”  Road accidents kill about 1,000 people in greater Cairo each year, with ½ of those pedestrians.
  • When lions roam the backyard. While North American cities have long dealt with “urban wildlife” such as coyotes, foxes, raccoons and badgers, fast growing cities in Africa increasingly face incidents such as that described in the story – a lioness and her cubs who crawled under a fence into a residential Nairobi neighborhood. 
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