Crisis-Proofing U.S. Cities

prepared by Safe Spaces, Inc.


            Safety is becoming an increasingly important issue in U.S. cities that want to attract and retain businesses that employ people and become good corporate citizens.  Since September 11, cities have redoubled their focus on being as crisis-proof as possible.  At a minimum, this means realistically managing the risks of violence, crime, natural disasters, and, yes, terrorism, on a local level.

Community leaders are focusing on what they can do, rather than to wait for leadership from above such as the new Homeland Security office at the White House.  Local governments employ police officers, fire fighters, and emergency medical service personnel that play a critical role, along with other local personnel, in keep our localities safe.  Many are examining their capacity to respond to disasters, either from terrorism or natural disasters. 

There are good reasons for local leaders to think safety.  According to news stories, safety is an increasingly important issue for businesses seeking to avoid business shutdowns because of terrorism, violence or natural disasters.  Safety is no longer an afterthought, it is emerging as a frontline concern.  Even for Chief Executive Officers, safety and security is becoming a front-burner issue.

This issue is both complex and comprehensive.  Issues of personal safety are of growing importance as businesses attempt to avoid crime areas where the chance of employees being harmed is unacceptably high.  Clearly, crisis management and effective crime prevention, reflecting the same core values, are seen as essential functions in business planning as well.  It is no longer acceptable for businesses to be unprepared.  The unthinkable happened on September 11, and now we must think about a larger range of contingencies.



We at invite government at all levels (Federal, state, and local), the business community, and other appropriate parties to join with us in pursuing avenues for preparing local governments for the New World.  We want to hear from local governments and business leaders on how they are planning, the procedures that they are writing, and the training that they are putting their employees through. 

            Below we identify the elements that we believe are fundamental to increased safety and security in American cities.  Is your city effectively dealing with each of these factors?  Are your local leaders anticipating and developing reasonable contingencies or they reactive in nature?

Disaster Management

    What capacity does the city have to respond to a disaster?  

    Are back-up power and water supplies available?

    Are disaster management plans in place?  Are drills held to test effectiveness?

    Does the city have evacuation plans in the case of a serious disaster?

    What range of natural and manmade disasters is the city prepared for?

Crime & Law Enforcement

    What is the ratio of police to the citizen population?

    What is the crime rate?  Is it increasing or decreasing?  Why?

    What is the long-term unemployment rate?

    How old and dilapidated is the housing stock?

    Do the schools have a good reputation?

    Are effective security services available?

    Do zoning ordinances permit adequate fencing and lighting?

    Are sufficient resources devoted to crime prevention?

Business Incentives

    Are building owners giving incentives to add security or redundancy?

    Are businesses included in disaster planning activities?

    Do security directors for local businesses work together on community issues?

Identifying the Best

               is devoted to making our lives safe and secure.  We invite best practice information from American cities, which we pledge to include on our Web site and to promote in our ways.  Contact us with information and we will respond accordingly!

Joseph A. Kinney is a pioneering leader, author, and researcher who has received numerous national awards for contributions to forging a safer and more productive world. Joseph is President of Safe Spaces, Inc. (


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