IT IS UNDENIABLE that to have a safe and inclusive city, the residents and the authorities have a great role to play together.
Experts say that safety consisted of aspects such as public infrastructure, crime, street safety, cyber crime and crime prevention through partnership.
In October last year, it was revealed in a seminar and workshop session hosted by the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) that the city had the highest crime rate in Selangor.
Field experts and residents who discussed ideas to make the city safer and inclusive said it was because the city was densely populated, had a larger business community and more “floating community” than other areas.
The floating community travelled between cities or locality through Petaling Jaya for work and other matters.
The types of crime also varied and included cyber crime.
Urbanisation and City Specialist from Hong Kong, Saibal Das Chowdhury who gave the keynote speech at the workshop said providing the communities with sufficient information such as the latest crime index would be beneficial.
The communities would be able to plan and structure a solution to combat crime.
This strategy was proven a success in cities such as Sydney, Australia and Vienna in Austria.
He urged for these details to be digitised and made available for public viewing.
“In developed cities such as Birmingham in England, the public welcome precise information. They actually like their Government better when it is forthcoming with information,” he said
He added that empowering smaller communities was always beneficial as people would think of solutions and embark on ways to keep their neighbourhood safe.
“Get together with your residents and propose activities. If we wait for someone to solve it for us it may just not happen,” he said.
He said the biggest use of data would be for budgeting purposes.
AJC Planning Consultants Sdn Bhd Ahmad Jefri Clyde said space could be divided into a few segments such as private space, semi-private, semi- public and public space.
He said a good quality environment in those spaces would promote good behaviour among the public.
“There should be zero graffiti on walls. People actually don’t feel safe with walls scribbled with graffiti,” said Clyde when he explained about human perception.
He said the authorities should be mindful of social segregation in residential areas.
There are the gated-and-guarded communities and neighbourhoods created for certain status.
Such neighbourhoods may come with their set of safety-related issues which could be avoided with good planning.
In addition, the developers could also provide amenities or construct development in a safer manner for the community.
“Developers could be generous when there is a push factor by the authorities,” said Clyde.
He also urged the council to promote better public engagement and to allow the public to put forth their ideas.
Placing some “eyes” on the street such as CCTV cameras would help troubleshooting problems fast.
“About 85% of residents in Singapore live in HDB flats but in case of a problem, the response team will arrive within 15 minutes. This is possible with good CCTV monitoring,” he said.
He highlighted that the public would also be more law abiding when they knew the authorities meant business when a rule was broken.
It was also necessary for a strong sense of community identity and ownership built among the residents. This could be achieved even through local government elections, said Clyde.
Prof Dr Teh Yik Koon from the National Defence University of Malaysia (UPNM) said legislation do not work on its own.
She criticised the public for their lack of integrity when it came to abiding simple laws.
“The ‘double-parking’ culture is not an act of society with integrity,” she said.
As for the security aspect she suggested that public, government and private sectors pull their resources and work together.
Dr Teh encouraged public, private and government sectors to link their CCTVs to the police if it was possible.
She cited as example the success of CCTVs placed in public areas which helped reduce crime in cities such as Taipei.
However, Dr Teh admitted that CCTVs were costly and it had to capture high-definition pictures or it would be less useful.
“CCTVs may be expensive and yes there is talk of intrusion of privacy. However, more CCTVs can be shared with the authorities with the cooperation from the corporations and even house owners,” she said.