Rotterdam: an open window to the world
A thriving European port home to over 650,000 inhabitants, Rotterdam defines itself as a city open to the world. They detail their urban security priorities and the benefits of cross-European collaboration through IcARUS.
Rotterdam is honoured to work with all the partners in the IcARUS project. With 651,000 inhabitants, Rotterdam is a city with an open window to the world. It is constantly renewing itself, if only because there are five to six thousand newcomers annually. It’s a city of cultural diversity, home to 174 nationalities. We know how important it is to stay connected to the world, working together with other European cities as well as universities and research institutions on public safety and security.
A safety programme that is renewed every five years
Working on safety and security in Rotterdam is a joint effort, which involves many organisations. Besides the police, residents, private security firms and entrepreneurs also work with us on safety and security issues. They help us to find solutions to the problems we face as a city. Universities and applied science institutions help us with research and (academic) insights and perspectives to improve our policies. The IcARUS project brings along the European dimension.
The Rotterdam city council adopts a new safety programme every five years, which includes, among other things, the more long-term ambitions. Secondly, a customised approach has been developed for each of the city’s 71 neighbourhoods. The municipal departments, police, the public prosecution service and residents work closely together on common problems to find suitable solutions. Private parties, such as housing corporations, entrepreneurs and schools are also involved in this approach.
An original safety evaluation tool
In addition to tackling the problems in the neighbourhoods, we developed an instrument for measuring the perceived safety of local residents titled the ‘Neighbourhood Profile’. We conduct a Neighbourhood Profile twice a year. This evaluation tool maps out the safety, social and physical situation of a neighbourhood and produces a visual chart. It is based on objective data from the police and municipal departments regarding reports from the public, and on the opinion of citizens themselves. The scores not only show which neighbourhood has a problem, but which problem is the most acute. The scores are allocated per theme, such as burglary and violence. Over the years, the importance of an integral approach – and with it an integral monitor – has become increasingly clear.
Safety issues cannot be resolved by simply focusing on safety: it is necessary to also take into account social and physical indicators. The neighbourhood profile also makes it possible to see the scores for each of the 71 Rotterdam districts, to establish comparisons, and to precisely know which safety problems are an issue in each district. It also signals the tasks that each district faces. We are aware of a possible gap between the objective numbers on safety and the subjective perception of local residents, which is also important to us.
The benefits of collaborating with other European cities
The Rotterdam safety approach priorities include, among others, those of the IcARUS project, as well as radicalisation, trafficking & organised crime, juvenile delinquency and public spaces. Public space is the domain where all safety and security measures come together, and also where the online world meets the offline world / reality. Cities are the ‘hands-on’ experts when it comes to safety and security. Collaboration between cities in Europe and around the world is extremely important for the future of our cities, working together to develop new approaches in the areas of counter terrorism, organised crime, radicalisation and cyber resilience. Cities will only be able to continue playing this important role if we listen to each other, share new insights and make sound agreements with one another. In this respect, the IcARUS project as well as Efus are important platforms to work together in Europe.
IcARUS will give us an overview of the best security policies over the last 30 years. We will be able to rethink and adapt existing tools and methods to remain a resilient city. A socially, physically and digitally resilient city takes action to reduce the vulnerability to risks and threats and knows how to limit the impact of incidents. A resilient city knows how to recover quickly when unforeseen events happen at international, national, regional and local levels.
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