Safety & Security

    • The structure at 2621 N. Jefferson St. in Brewerytown, as it appeared after the June collapse.

Fatal Brewerytown building collapse was `a tragic workplace accident,' L&I commissioner says

Five weeks after the Brewerytown building collapse that killed 59-year-old contractor Harvey Figgs, the city Department of Licenses and Inspections has found no violation of Philadelphia’s safety or demolition regulations on…

    • Family members react at the scene of a fatal accident on Roosevelt Boulevard.

The $50,000 fight to get speed cameras on Roosevelt Boulevard

Latanya Byrd’s eyes still well up when she talks about July 16, 2013. “It was a beautiful day,” she says. Her niece, Samara Banks, posted photos online of her four children…

    • Cindy Bass | Emma Lee/WHYY

Forcing small business owners to remove protective barriers endangers public safety, does not make our communities better

Since 2000, my parents have operated a small family business in North Philadelphia, where we live and work. My parents, refugees who survived genocide in Cambodia to come to this country,…



Any social effects of sound urban design were not discussed in the discipline until Jane Jacob’s Death and Life of Great American Cities, in which she drew a direct connection between successful place-making and overall public safety. She argues that in order for all people to feel safe on city streets, an intricate social system is required more than a strong police force. That setting can only be achieved by designing the neighborhood so that there is constant use at all hours and a rich mixture of activities and buildings of different characters. This mix of uses creates an environment where there are always “eyes on the street,” thus making it harder for a crime to occur without repercussion. In her approach of increasing safety through urban design, Jacobs makes other recommendations, including shortening the length of city blocks and mixing buildings of various size and typology, a direct contrast in ideals with those who advocate consistent zoning as a tool to maintain the public’s safety and welfare.
Beyond everyday safety for urban dwellers, professionals must also plan and design for emergencies.  For example, even the coziest of streets must be designed to enable a fire truck to turn and park. Cities must also be built to survive natural disasters. Downtown Miami had to be rebuilt after Hurricane Andrew of 1993, and lots of the renewal used new materials that can withstand even a Category 5 hurricane.  Sanibel Island, Fla., has special design regulations and population ceilings to ensure that all residents can reach safety in case of a hurricane. And now as plans are developed for rebuilding New Orleans, careful attention is paid to development in floodplains, and the role of coastal wetlands and natural storm management systems in a healthy ecosystem.



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