24 hours to chaos

Posted by trammel at 2020-02-19

25. April 2012, 16:02 clock

Urban safety:24 hours to chaos

The citizens of Germany are concerned about drinking young people, but do not think enough about the possibility that the supply of electricity, gas and information could fail. The increasing interconnection of urban infrastructure carries underestimated risks.

A subway station somewhere in Germany. It's late at night, the way out leads up a tunnel and a staircase. If the late passenger feels a discomfort in the chest, how do the wild graffiti on the wall affect him and the growling of the beer-drinking teenagers who pass through the hall?

Weak light, deep shadows- many people do not feel safe at night in subways. But the real dangers of a modern city are often elsewhere. For example, the vulnerability of the supply networks.

Maybe the passengers are just annoyed with the lubrication. Maybe he knows the kids sitting up there. Perhaps in this situation he prefers to use another way out. And maybe it all depends on age, gender and place of residence.

"This subjective sense of security has so far been of little concern to us," says Holger Floeting of the German Institute of Urbanism. But action is needed at the latest when some people no longer dare to use public transport."

"Urbane Security" is a new focus in the Federal Ministry of Research's "Civil Security" research programme. The participants met in Berlin last week to discuss power failures, software failures at banks and the threat of terrorism. But it is also about the subjective feeling of citizens.

"Public consumption of alcohol is a very common reason when public places change their character and are perceived as less safe," says Floeting, who has surveyed all German cities with more than 50.000 inhabitants.

For the subjective sense of security, the crime is usually not so important, but the feeling of cleanliness and order,"says Dietrich Henckel of the TU Berlin. Graffiti at least did not impress the citizens of Berlin." It is more a question of conflicts of use", for example, when a group of people suddenly discovers a place for themselves and thus harasses or disturbs others.

But driving out such intruders is oft en not an effective recipe to strengthen the feeling of security. Henckel quotes the American city theorist Jane Jacobs: "First, the diversity of functions produces security." This is created not only by police, video cameras, and good lighting, but also by shops, restaurants, andmedical practices.

The psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer of the Max Planck Institute for Education Research in Berlin says that it is almost impossible for most people to assess risks competently. We deal a lot with the things that cost few people their lives, and little with the dangers that kill many."Thus, the media reported extensively on diseases such as marriage, saris, or swine flu, but barely on smoking.

One of Gigerenzer's favorite examples comes from the time after the 11th terrorist attacks. September 2001 At that time, many people used the car instead of the plane that seemed too dangerous to them." That is why there has been an additional transport sacrifice."

It is therefore quite possible that citizens worry too much about drinking young people and too little about possible failures in the infrastructure that appears to be self-evident." People rely on such systems until they become practically invisible,"says the economist Volkmar Pipek of the University Fountain.