Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council scoops international awards for crime prevention, counter-terrorism regulations

ABU DHABI: The Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) has picked up two prestigious international security awards for its ground-breaking Abu Dhabi Safety and Security Planning Manual, aimed at maintaining the Emirate’s low crime levels and enhancing its resilience to terrorist attack in relation to urban planning, which was launched in 2013 in close collaboration with Abu Dhabi Police.

The UPC scooped the International Achievement Award and the Counter Terrorism Solution of the Year at the Security and Fire Excellence Awards 2014 in the UK for its Abu Dhabi Safety and Security Planning Manual (SSPM), the first manual that combines both crime prevention and counter-terrorism guidelines for urban development. This accomplishment highlights the considerable efforts made to include stringent regulations and processes to reduce crime and potential for terrorist attack.

The Security Excellence Awards took place on 27th November in London and were attended by almost a thousand people. Now in their sixteenth year, the awards have consistently broken new ground in highlighting the very best people, projects and processes the security sector has to offer.

The UPC was shortlisted as a finalist in each of the three categories they entered: the International Achievement Award, Counter Terrorism Solution of the Year, and Contribution to Security Standards. Both awards were accepted by Amer Al Hammadi, Executive Director of Planning & Infrastructure, on behalf of the UPC.

The SSPM was created through a close partnership with the British Government, specifically to help the Abu Dhabi Government better protect its densely populated public areas – referred to in the manual as ‘Crowded Places’. The Manual has been used extensively since Q4 of 2013 on all future developments in the Emirate to ensure the best methods for protection are used, and incorporates the principles of Vision 2030 for community design and development.

It is the first manual to provide guidance on how crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) principles should be applied in a local environmental and cultural context. It calls for consultants to be involved much earlier in the development process, seeking inherent security through planning rather than a reliance on technology and operations. Reassuringly, Abu Dhabi is a safe and secure place, however the UPC realised that its dramatic growth and diversification introduces new risks. In order to ensure that crime remains low and also to enhance the resilience of the Emirate to terrorist attack, the UPC directed the development of the SSPM.

The SSPM is a new, innovative planning regulation that ensures security is embedded into all future urban development to create safe and secure communities while preserving the vision for the Emirate. The Manual is different from similar documents in design, content and readability.

Key messages are portrayed in a colourful, graphic format, and easy-to-use planning and design toolkits facilitate their application.

The SSPM has only been in practice for one year, but it has already had a remarkable impact on the security industry in Abu Dhabi. This can be demonstrated by the amendments to the original plan for a large residential development of 1,500 villas. Alterations were made to reduce the vulnerability to crime, including the reorientation of villas on the perimeter to provide better natural surveillance and to create a better transition from public through to private space. As a result, these changes created a safer and more sustainable development.

“The UPC is extremely proud to be receiving this international award. Before the Safety and Security Planning Manual was developed, security planning in Abu Dhabi was largely self-regulated by developers and building owners, often without the input of a security professional or following an integrated planning approach. As a result, many developments disregarded best practices in the security industry, potentially increasing security risk and jeopardising the stability and growth opportunities in Abu Dhabi. Through working collaboratively with all stakeholders, we have created a manual that incorporates best practice design for creating safe, secure and resilient communities and infrastructure.” said Amer Al Hammadi, Executive Director, Planning & Infrastructure, UPC.

Amer Al Hammadi concluded, “Our Leadership has always put the security of Abu Dhabi’s people and places at the top of its priority list to ensure that everyone has access to safe places to live and work in.” The process for preparing the SSPM included a series of workshops over a nine-month period with senior representatives of the UAE’s Federal Ministries, Abu Dhabi Government departments, along with a high level of collaboration and coordination with the Department of Municipal Affairs, representatives of the private sector and higher education institutions as well as international collaborations.