Strengthening Security Through Citizen Participation: Insights from the Efus Security, Democracy and Cities Conference 

In today’s interconnected world, security threats that transcend borders and traditional boundaries are increasing. Addressing these challenges requires an innovative approach and the active participation of those most affected – city residents. The Efus Security, Democracies, and Cities Conference held in Brussels from March 20-22 2024, served as a crucial platform for discussing these issues. This gathering attracted a diverse group of stakeholders including policy makers, law enforcement professionals, and academic experts who are committed to enhancing urban security. 

The TRANSCEND team were among the participants, dedicating our presence to communicating the importance of improving practices of citizen and societal engagement in security research & innovation. By bridging the gap between policymakers, researchers, and the public, TRANSCEND is pioneering a model of cooperation where citizen insights are pivotal in crafting effective security strategies. 

Throughout the event, key meetings were held involving representatives from various continents including Europe, North & South America, and Asia. These discussions covered a broad spectrum of issues, from cybercrime to terrorism to organized crime, showcasing innovative ways to combat these threats while fostering citizen security. 

Key themes included:

  • Community policing: The role of community initiatives in enforcing the law and in building trust within neighbourhoods. 
  • Technology in security: Innovative uses of technology enhancing safety and respecting privacy rights. 
  • Holistic approaches: Tackling the root causes of crime through comprehensive strategies rather than isolated actions. 

The Efus conference highlighted the necessity of building trust and fostering strong partnerships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. It underscored a collective responsibility to ensure the safety and security of urban areas, where all stakeholders have a role to play. By sharing experiences, best practices and knowledge, the conference has proven to be a resource for those looking to prevent and mitigate security threats at a local level. The active participation of citizens, championed by thinkers like Jürgen Habermas arguing that public involvement is essential for democracy, helps to ensure that security solutions are effective and democratically legitimized.

As cities continue to face security challenges, the insights from the Efus Security Conference highlight the importance of collaborative innovation. Harnessing the collective wisdom of citizens, policymakers, and practitioners, communities will be key to navigating the future or urban security. Through sustained engagement and cooperation, a future can be envisioned where security is not merely a top-down imposition, but a shared commitment embraced by all members of society.

Written by Anna Pomortseva and Elodie Reuge, EOS.

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