- Jul 21 2014
In gauging the feeling of safety, numerous studies by major institutions commonly ask participants to imagine themselves in situations when they are alone; posing questions such as, how safe do you feel when you are alone in a parking lot? This element of human presence and the sense that we are not alone helps us feel safe. In fact, this notion is so widespread that various organizations, such as universities, transportation companies and corporate offices have incorporated the necessity of human presence into the creation of policies and practices.
Regardless of the size or location of a campus, students feel unsafe while walking alone to their residences, in parking garages, and between campus buildings. Additionally, studies show that college-aged individuals in particular tend to have a higher need to feel safe than other age groups. To improve the perception of safety, many universities provide security options such as safety escort services. Depending on the program, escort, ranging from hired professionals to trained student volunteers, accompany students on foot or in vehicles to their destinations. Students are encouraged to use this free service when they are out alone late at night to increase their feeling of safety.
A similar concept has emerged in the Parisian suburb of La Plaine-Saint-Denis – but this time with a focus on corporate workers. In recent years, several companies have relocated their headquarters, along with thousands of employees, to this neighborhood. Following a series of incidents, companies banded together to provide a security presence between offices and the commuter train station.
Roughly a dozen guards, familiar with the neighborhood, keep watch over the area surrounding the station. It is their job to remind employees to keep their cellphones out of sight or their handbags closed – in short, habits that could invite a would-be robbery. The general presence of security personnel who patrol the area helps employees to feel safer and more secure.
The concept of having someone around simply as a second set of eyes was introduced by urban planning author, Jane Jacobs. Having “eyes on street” as she called it, not only made streets feel safer, but actually made streets safer. Anyone, from building doormen to deliverymen and even strangers, can provide this type of natural surveillance and be seen as a source of safety just by being present.
For many residents, having a doorman in their building is viewed as an added safety measure – even if providing security is not something they actively do. Simply having someone at the building entrance, who monitors people coming and going makes residents feel safer.
Regardless of the circumstance – whether you are the last one at the office, taking the dog for a nighttime stroll or hopping on a late night bus alone – there is one factor that will put you at ease: having someone else around.
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