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Secure Cities

May 19, 2009

Following in the footsteps of leading urbanists like Mike Davis and Michael Sorkin, is a project led by Dr Jeremy Nemeth, an assistant professor at University of Colorado. which traces the degradation, securitization and privatization of what we used to optimistically refer to as ‘public space’. This project aims to map and quantify the space in three contemporary cities (New York, Los Angeles and San Fransisco) now restricted in the name of security. The website is online now, and their findings are summarized on the front page:

“Even before [the 9/11] terror attacks, owners and managers of high-profile public and private buildings had begun to militarize space by outfitting surrounding streets and sidewalks with rotating surveillance cameras, metal fences and concrete bollards. In emergency situations, such features may be reasonable impositions, but as threat levels fall these larger security zones fail to incorporate a diversity of uses and users.

Utilizing an innovative method developed by our interdisciplinary team, we find that over 17% of total space within our three study sites is closed entirely or severely limits public access. The ubiquity of these security zones encourages us to consider them a new land use type.”

(thanks to Dr Nemeth for the corrections to my original misattribution of his excellent project)

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