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Public Safety

Economist Intelligence Unit Safe Cities Index 2015

Urban Security in the Digital Age


Digital security measures the extent of resources dedicated to ensuring that citizens can use the internet and other digital technologies without fear of privacy violations or identity theft. On the input side, cities are scored on their reliance on digital infrastructure, the level of technology employed and the existence of dedicated cyber security teams. On the output side, the Index measures the frequency of identity theft and the estimated number of computers infected with a virus.



The Safe Cities Index explored the safety of 50 cities in four categories
One of the four categories is Digital Security.

The concept of the “smart city” is transforming how urban spaces are managed.
Yet dependence on technology to deliver services creates new vulnerabilities.

Tokyo's Olympic organisers are preparing for cyber-terrorism

“The London 2012 website was subject to over 200m cyberattacks - tens of millions at the opening ceremony. We need to prepare for an even larger scale of attacks and develop systems strong enough to protect our Games system. But technology is developing at a rapid pace, making many of the lessons from the London Olympics potentially irrelevant” - Toshiro Muto, CEO of the Tokyo Olympic Games Organising Committee

Singapore is establishing a Monitoring and Operations Control Centre
to tackle rising cybercrime

Traditional crimes are at decade-long lows. Yet the overall level of reported crime is rising due to an increase in cyber-related offences, such as e-mail scams. Cyber-crime has been identified as a key concern for local police at a time when the government is taking steps to improve the safety of its citizens across online and offline infrastructure.

New York's online security success needs to be matched offline

US cities perform strongly in digital security. New York is third with three of the four other US cities in the Index (Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago) in the top 10. But leaders in digital security must not overlook real-world risks. Los Angeles falls from 6th place in digital security to 23rd for personal safety, San Francisco from 8th to 21st. Urban safety initiatives need to straddle the digital and physical realms.

Technology is now on the frontline of urban safety in all areas.Algorithms are being used to tackle crime

To tackle high levels of violent crime, Chicago has used an algorithm developed by an Illinois Institute of Technology engineer to identify a “heat list” of individuals likely to be either victims or perpetrators of crime. These individuals then receive visits and are issued warnings.

Data can make city residents healthier

Researchers combined data from medical records of people diagnosed with a chronic disease and married these with large amounts of data on where people live, such as the amount of green space and access to grocery stores. They found a correlation between levels of obesity and low-income neighbourhoods where the only convenient food stores were fast-food chains.

Safe cities should be attractive places to live

Some of the cities in the Index have aggressively adopted video surveillance. London has a camera for every six citizens. In May 2014 the city began the UK’s largest trial of body-worn cameras for police officers. Madrid has more than 8,000 security cameras distributed throughout its mass transit system. Facial recognition software can identify criminals or fraudsters picked up on video. But a debate rages over the balance between security and privacy.

Public Safety


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