SCN Coordinator Marta Lopes speaking at the PRoTECT Seminar in Brasov, Romania
Author: Marta Lopes Coordinator, SCN
The SCN has launched a new project to develop a “Post-Incident Response Toolkit” which will provide key guidance and insight to both city leaders and practitioners on best practice responses following a terrorist attack or suspected terrorist attack.
To understand existing and relevant work taking place, our long term partner European Forum for Urban Security (Efus) invited the SCN to speak at the first Annual PRoTECT Seminar on the Protection of Public Spaces in Brasov, Romania, on 17 July.
The panel discussion ‘Protection of public spaces: cooperation with a wide range of stakeholders to mitigate emerging challenges’ examined how multilevel stakeholders’ responsibilities for managing the security of soft targets can mitigate the risks and decrease the vulnerabilities of these sites.
The SCN highlighted the importance of using multi-stakeholder coordination bodies at the local level, such as the SCN Local Prevention Networks to ensure that the necessary structures are in place and all relevant actors are confident with their role in case of an emergency. Being organised at the local level can also lead to better communication with the national level through the appointment of focal points, all in all resulting in better crisis management. The importance of building trust between all actors at the different levels to ensure information circulates as efficiently as possible in a crisis situation was also a paramount recommendation.
On the technology front, the SCN advocated to expand the traditional “soft target” securitised approach, and consider online analytical tools such as the SCN’s Togetherness Index. Developed together with the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM), the Togetherness Index allows us to identify hateful and extremist speech online and geo-locate it to a local area. This tool can provide regions and cities with insights into the relationship between online hate speech and offline hate crime attacks, as well as post-incident community tensions, drivers of online and offline hate, and the extent to which online hate emanates from a local area or is rather directed towards a local area from outside.
These insights can greatly influence how local authorities, police and communities build a local response to hate crime, hate speech, and community cohesion, thus adding huge potential to the city’s emergency preparedness process.
An initiative of the European Network of Law Enforcement Technology Services, PRoTECT (Public Resilience using TEchnology to Counter Terrorism) is designed to improve direct responses to public safety before, during and after a terrorist threat by providing practitioners with tools, technology, training and field demonstrations. Part of the project focused on supporting five cities across the EU to pilot a site assessment tool[i] designed to guide authorities in evaluating the vulnerability of their public spaces: Brasov (Romania); Eindhoven (The Netherlands); Larissa (Greece); Malaga (Spain); Vilnius (Lithuania). The 17 July seminar organised by in collaboration with the Municipality of Brasov was an occasion to present the findings from this exercise, as well as the accompanying manual for local authorities developed in the framework of PRoTECT project by Efus and the Dutch Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO).
The SCN wishes to thank Efus for providing the opportunity to speak on the panel discussion.
[i] The site assessment tool was mentioned in the 2017 EU Action plan to support the protection of public spaces and should become publically available in September.