Safe and sound in the national nest (send your better translations of “lintukoto”, please, via the comments button below), for decades Finns and even Helsinkians have relished and cherished their sense of security. As in, it might be a bit boring up here, but it’s not dangerous. Tourists are routinely told Helsinki is pretty safe.
Of course this view of Finland as a safe place is only partially true – though such a judgement obviously depends on your point of comparison. We’re high up on homicides and even some violent crimes, and in terms of being safe from the elements, you obviously need quite a bit of apparatus (an insulated and heated home, for instance) just to survive. So even while we don’t have a tradition of city walls (only Viipuri ever had them), architecture in Finland has always been about protecting us from the external dangers.
But we live in international times, and Finnish elites are ever keen to keep up with the latest trends. And though it’s not exactly a novel trend, the security-enhancement bug just keeps spreading. Technical systems to keep us all safe are being developed and implemented like never before.
Not surprisingly, built environment experts of all kinds, including people who understand about public space it seems, have lots to work on when cities are willing to pay experts for safety and security. UrbanSafety2010 is coming to town in a couple of weeks.
I reproduce here some snippets of the blurb on the site:
Violence and criminality are factors that perhaps upset the sense of safety most.
We say: Of course security salesmen couldn’t possibly think that sense of safety has anything to do with the prospect of perpetual crisis in the jobs market and ever bigger pressure on the individual to rely not on society but on the self.
We shall also concentrate on focal themes from the angle of everyday street safety, such as conflicts ensuing from the use of urban space
Right – now we have it from the experts, it is the use of urban space that produces conflict. Let’s all go underground then. Lucky we’ll soon all fit in.