Nowadays, people view public spaces very differently than the countless generations before them. Why is that important? Because the relationships that individuals forge with the spaces around them are critical to daily life. But as important as public spaces and commons may be, many urban spaces in this country are neglected, which can lead to decay. Even so, that’s not the only issue. Many arguments about public spaces revolve around institutional disregard and completely omit the impact of latent cultural anxiety.
There’s a major link between terrorism and public anxiety. As attacks in public spaces continue to hold a place in the public consciousness, these impact how Americans view their spaces. According to Pacific Standard: “As these threats endanger public spaces, they also have serious implications on the private, innermost workings of everyday citizens’ psyches.” The consequences of such horrific events aren’t limited to Americans, either.
A catalogue of three years worth of terrorist attacks which unfolded exclusively on European soil (and only those that involved vehicles) highlights premeditated strikes from London and Paris to Barcelona and Berlin. Worst of all is the fact that very little can be done to prevent them without totally reconceptualizing public security. Unfortunately, that typically means comprises have to be made and the right mindset must be deliberately cultivated.
Fortunately, there are practical guides to situational awareness. Reviewing them is likely to be a sound strategy for anyone intent on developing an appropriate mindset. As one such guide explains, “people practicing situational awareness can detect attack steps, avoid danger themselves, and alert the authorities to protect others.” In other words, universally practiced situational awareness sets the stage for more robust public security.
Of course, we can’t place all of our trust and confidence in human factors. That’s because people are inherently fallible — they make mistakes and misinterpret behaviors. What’s threatening to one person might be considered tolerable by another. How can the authorities address that limitation? The answer is through technology. A poll suggests that Americans overwhelmingly support increased public surveillance to help mitigate growing threats, and that’s relatively unsurprising given the frequency and severity of planned terrorist attacks.
Despite the fear-mongering media headlines, authorities have never been better at thwarting terrorism, whether it be foreign or domestic. Many governments can now turn to industry experts to implement safeguards and security countermeasures. The same enterprise security risk management solutions that shield Fortune 500 brands can also be utilized by cities. Though implementations can look very different, the expected outcomes and goals are identical. Polls already indicate that citizens are willing to compromise privacy in exchange for greater peace of mind. It’s likely they would also be willing to direct taxes to such initiatives, especially if research can demonstrate that these activities would yield meaningful results.
Suffice it to say that anxiety in public spaces is definitely well-justified. Recent history has done nothing to convince us that unexpected terrorism is about to go by the wayside. In fact, evidence suggests that things could probably get much worse before they get perceivably better. That isn’t to say that paranoia should take hold, but rather to further stress the centrality of what’s been introduced. Never underestimate how vital it is to feel safe and secure in public.