bullet proof communities

Wanted: undercover special ops. team to travel through time and prevent the publication of a recent paper by the European Committee for StandardisationPrevention of Crime – Urban Planning and Design. If these fools are allowed to have their say and their proposal for the construction of more gated communities leaves an impression on other fools, we may as well admit that Thatcher was not only right, but prophetic. In the report the ECS suggests that;

…crime can be reduced through ‘territoriality’ – people extending there control over their immediate surroundings – and recommends using ‘ barriers’ to ‘maximise private space and minimise public space’.

It gets worse. Apparently, barrier walls should have anti-graffiti surface protection, chain link fences and bullet proof windows.

Under the section ‘The Fence’, it advises that fences be supplemented with anti-intrusion sensors, CCTV, shock lighting and alarms.

Imagine a world where each street has a security guard at the end of it. Imagine a world where you need your ID card checked just to walk down a road that was previously public space. Imagine having to pay extra home insurance because you can’t afford to live in a gated community. Imagine the riots that will erupt over the arguments about whether the gated community next to you should pay less tax than you do because they employ a private firm to empty their bins.

I spend my days redesigning housing estates that have barely lasted 20 or 30 years before declining both physically and socially. Yes, a small part of this is to do with the architecture and construction techniques, but the root of it is found in the history of divisive housing tenure policies and it’s effect on social inclusiveness. That’s before we even get to any discussion about gated communities.

The source for this entry was the Big Issue, which is a little embarassing. It’s not that I’m being derogatory to the magazine; the Big Issue is a fantastic publication and the current layout looks great – it’s just that I really should have picked it up sooner, since it’s so relevant to my job. I’ve downloaded the document now so I can have a proper read. I’ll add an update if anything else needs mentioning.

This topic was also recently covered by the BBC as part of their If? series.

Also wanted: WiFi on the Birmingham Metro tram line so that I can post this as soon as I’ve finished, and someone to tell me how to get my SuSE Linux OS to recognise both my touchpad and my mouse without one uninstalling the other.

Of these two items, the former is fairly unlikely, as I seem to be the only one in the West Midlands who uses a laptop/PDA on the tram; the latter will hopefully be solved either here or here.

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