Giving Compass' Take:

• City leaders are debating how to improve the design of public spaces to better protect citizens from terrorist attacks. 

• How can donors get involved in funding infrastructure that is protective rather than decorative?

• Read about preventative programming that addresses violent extremism. 


Wreaking havoc in dense, urban areas— open cafésand markets, tourist hotspots, and public transit has long been the modus operandi of terrorists. The tactics, however, are evolving. Vehicles have now become the new weapon of choice—and cities like Barcelona, London, and Nice in Europe, and Charlottesville in the US have recently experienced the trauma they can cause.

The public square, civic infrastructure, are the front lines against this kind of attack.

In Paris, which was the site of a major terrorist attack in 2015, some of these solutions are already in place: heavily armed police are often seen in transit hubs and public spaces, the city is considering robotic barriers to keep pedestrians safe, and work has already started on bullet-proof glass walls around the Eiffel Tower.

In the US, a debate has raged about whether these kinds of measures—many of which went into effect after 9/11—detract from the very purpose of public spaces: to be free, comfortable, and open for all.With each tragic mass shooting that takes place in US cities, that debate rekindles.

There’s also the question of equity. Certain types of people may be disproportionately scrutinized as a result of their race, religion, or income. They may pay unfairly for something someone else did in the past, Vonier said, speaking of low-income populations, in particular. “That’s something we must be cognizant of and sensitive to.”

Read the full article on protecting public spaces from terrorist attacks by Tanvi Misra at The Aspen Institute