Keywords: physical security, extreme events, social judgment theory, risk management, socio-technological approach, policy evaluation, policy options, vulnerability, public spaces, protection, hazards, urban terrorism, planning, emergency management, disaster management, mass evacuation
Protection from extreme events: using a socio-technological approach to evaluate policy options
Effective ways to address the vulnerabilities of urban areas to terrorism and other hazards have been subject to considerable discussion, debate and reflexive defensive measures. However, a coherent strategy for protecting public spaces while maintaining access to them has yet to emerge. Current approaches have pitted 'security' against 'openness,' neglecting critical issues, such as what constitutes publicly-valued levels of protection, a prudent government response, and sustainable public expenditures. Although a desire for drastic measures is certainly understandable, it is not based on a true assessment of risk, nor will it lead to an effective, let alone cost effective, approach to the threats of hazards and urban terrorism. This paper will discuss three tools from the social and policy sciences that can be used to develop balanced and prioritised approaches to physical security. It will demonstrate that these tools also can be applied to planning for extreme natural events.