Investigating Emerging and Near-Future Urban Security Challenges

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Project Details


The overall objective of this project is to investigate and assess near-term and long-term urban security threats and challenges based on a global survey of experts and key informant interviews. Key to this is a recognition that the main emerging trends in urban renewal now involve responses to climate change and the burgeoning information economy. The need for infrastructure and energy to support the growth of information, the Internet of Things, and data will compete with the need to curtail climate change. Implicit is an understanding that these are goals that are incompatible and will need to be negotiated by each city individually if they want to emerge as the global cities of the future.


The survey research team developed a frame of over 5,000 experts (in the fields of engineering, urban development, finance, development, health, urban studies, architecture, regional science, etc.) from virtually every country. The team translated the survey into the official UN languages (Arabic, English, French, Russian, and Spanish) to ensure as much participation as possible. Survey questions related to pressing concerns broadly related to urban areas and the built environment. Specifically, these questions ask about general security concerns, migration to/from urban areas, risk of natural and manmade disaster, definitional questions about what constitutes a “smart city,” and more generally about climate change and resilience. Due to the diverse array of experts and the global nature of the survey, the team asked questions at the country scale, meaning the team did not ask about specific cities by name, but did ask about all cities within a country and specifically about the city that serves as the seat of government and the city with the largest population.