Security by Design in Abu Dhabi

By Hunter R. Burkall, PSP


The SSPM vision is to ensure the creation of safe and secure communities that enhance quality of life and reflect the UAE’s unique identity. The SSPM project team and stakeholders identified eight planning and design principles that would be instrumental in delivering this vision. These principles are access, structure, ownership, surveillance, activity, physical security, public image, and availability.

The process of applying these principles is outlined in the SSPM. It ensures that the safety and security solution for a project is a fit for purpose, is proportionate to the risk, and is balanced with other development objectives.

So how do users of the SSPM determine how much safety and security are required on a project? This is ultimately dependent on a combination of different factors such as development size, use, function, type of occupant, capacity of the venue, stakeholder requirements, and the surrounding context.

An online decision support tool (DST) was developed to analyze a project’s general context and provide users with an initial awareness as to whether safety and security should play a more significant part in planning and design. The DST categorizes projects as either high or low priority. Projects found to be high priority are assigned a safety and security advisor from the UPC and provided guidance throughout the life of the project. These projects include those warranting national interest, such as government buildings or crowded places, such as stadiums. These high-priority projects are more likely to warrant security strategies that will impact planning decisions, like site selection, spatial layouts, vehicle and pedestrian movement framework plans, and the placement of critical infrastructure and facilities, like parking and service bays.

Safety and security are less of a planning consideration for low-priority projects and are primarily achieved through design features. Residential and commercial properties are more likely to be viewed as low priority.

To help owners, planners, and designers understand how much security they need, the SSPM contains a planning toolkit and a design toolkit. Each toolkit captures particular aspects of planning and design that can be leveraged to manage conflict and risk, as well as to facilitate the application of layered security. For example, a scenario offered in the site-selection section is the placement of a high-rise apartment building directly next to a government site. This spatial relationship may be inappropriate if it will enable public users occupying higher floors of the residential building to view sensitive activity taking place on the government site. This sort of issue must be addressed during the initial planning process.



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