Riga: a holistic approach to the security of public spaces

Most European cities were built a long time ago, when nobody gave much thought to the safety of residents. Nowadays, cities are faced with new threats that have emerged in the present century, and Riga is no exception. We expect the IcARUS project will provide us with useful solutions as part of a multimodal approach.

The capital of Latvia, one of the Baltic states, Riga has a population of 637,931 according to the Central statistics office (2020), but it realistically has closer to one million on any given day if we take into account visitors who come to the city to work, study, shop or carry out administrative formalities.

Public safety in Riga is ensured by the Riga municipal police, whereas the national police is concerned by traffic control and the prevention of crime. Protecting public spaces is in the remit of Riga’s thousand or so municipal officers.

A priority: the protection of public spaces

Riga is member of the European Forum for Urban Security (Efus) and regularly takes part in international projects in the field of crime prevention and urban safety. In the 21st century, protecting public spaces requires that both city councils and law enforcement agencies adopt a modern approach and vision and exchange their know-how and experience. Furthermore, they need to build their policies on social and urban research, and to benchmark inspiring practices developed elsewhere in order to implement such policies. In this respect, we believe the IcARUS project will help us achieve our objective of strengthening the protection of our public spaces.

Adopting a holistic approach

Designing and managing safe public spaces is not only an architectural concern. It requires a holistic approach involving different stakeholders, i.e. urban planners, law enforcement, social services, local residents, etc. As many other European cities, Riga was built a long time ago, at a time when nobody gave much thought to the safety of residents. Nowadays, we are faced with new threats that have emerged in the present century.

In order to respond to such threats, we expect the IcARUS project will provide us with useful solutions as part of a multimodal approach that strengthens crime prevention through urban design, the use of CCTV, adequate policing strategies, etc.

We believe that cooperation among the IcARUS partners will be successful and will benefit us all, but the clear winners will (of course) be the citizens of our cities.

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