Monday, February 26, 2024

CPTED Conference in Palm Springs - Practical solutions vs public safety theater

The CPTED Conference in Palm Springs is sponsored by 
CPTED/PCAM Canada and CPTED USA, May 7-8, 2024

by Gregory Saville

Some time ago we posted various blogs on the pros and cons of security technology as a solution to crime. Some technologies, we concluded from the evidence, provide an excellent addition to a safe environment as long as they are well-understood by the community and targeted strategically. The K-5 security robot patrolling late-night underground parking might be one example.

But other technologies promise more than they provide. Over a year ago, Mateja wrote a blog on the acoustic gun detection system “Shotspotter” as one example of a technology that had mixed results. Mateja’s blog on the topic wrote that studies “conclude that [acoustic security technology] AGDT may actually be ineffective and inaccurate and can thus waste police resources” 

Now the popular media (and more importantly, city decision-makers) have finally taken up our argument and tell an alarming story. The CNN news stream just reported that critics are sounding the alarm that the ShotSpotter gunfire detection system is ineffective


Despite over a hundred cities employing the technology (one wonders whether those cities used any form of criminological due diligence before their purchase?), it turns out cities like Chicago, Atlanta, and Portland have rejected this security technology. These are cities that direly need some respite from street crime. The article asks whether such technologies are ‘public safety theatre’

The reality is that in places like Houston, that use the technology, out of over 4,000 ShotSpotter alerts, only about 200 turned into arrests. Then again, 200 arrests following a gunfire detection alert isn't unimportant. Is the price tag worth that amount?  That’s a good question and a simple answer might be – yes! Yet, if shots occur in a neighborhood with decent design and friendly community relationships, maybe residents will call the police on their own and report the details. That might just as easily result in an arrest. 


The webcast on community-building through 2nd Generation CPTED

I recently joined some other CPTED experts in describing an alternative to the tech security solution. We discussed a human-centered approach to safety and security called 2nd Generation CPTED. During the webcast, we showed examples where residents and other community members had a direct, and powerful, role in improving their own safety. We showed examples from schools in Oregon, skate parks in Saskatoon, Texas, and British Columbia, and city planning tactics in Florida and New Orleans. 

This CPTED USA/CPTED-PCAM Canada webcast precedes the 2024 joint conference in Palm Springs, California. To see the latest in technology, how to marry sensible technology with community empowerment, and case studies of advanced examples of crime prevention, register for the May 7-8 conference here.

See you there.