Safety and security enhanced through Abu Dhabi planning manual
To date, 137 real estate developments in Abu Dhabi have successfully utilised the new planning guide focusing on safety and security.
In a further step towards enhancing Abu Dhabi’s position as one the safest cities in the world, Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) has announced the implementation of the Abu Dhabi Safety and Security Planning Manual (SSPM) across 137 developments in the Emirate.
The UPC introduced the SSPM in 2013, in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Police and other stakeholders, to provide planning guidelines for master plans and developments in the Emirate. It focuses on creating safe and secure environments using a range of practical planning and design methods to influence the physical environment from the Manual’s ‘Planning and Design Toolkits’, which, when combined with security technology and operations, delivers a holistic security strategy.
All development projects are classified as ‘Low Priority’ projects or ‘High Priority’ projects, dependent on the type of development, population size and the nature of the activities that will take place there. Of the 137 project reviews, 54 were classified Low Priority, where the focus was on enhancing overall security. 53 were termed High Priority, of which 24 have received security approval, with the remaining 29 likely to receive approval in the near future. Thirty projects have been required to meet the additional security requirements of the Crowded Places Protection Programme, as they are publicly accessible and densely populated. This ensures that popular privately owned public areas and tourist attractions have been planned with security in mind to create safe places for all visitors, while taking into account their privacy.
Included in these approved projects are three of the museums that feature in one of Abu Dhabi’s most prestigious development projects – the Saadiyat Island Cultural District. Through early security planning and consideration of the principles and guidance in the SSPM, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Zayed National Museum are exemplary in illustrating how to incorporate appropriate security precautions without compromising the original architectural vision for each museum. Through collaborative efforts between Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), the UPC, the museum operators, and the respective project consultant teams, the museums demonstrate how planning solutions improve levels of safety and security in development projects.
These projects have benefited from the fact that the SSPM does not include specific standards, rather it specifies a process to be followed and a level of performance to be achieved. This performance-based regulatory model deliberately allows planning and design freedom to enable projects to create their own solutions that are most appropriate to their project context.
Abdulla Al Sahi, Executive Director, Corporate Services Sector and Acting Executive Director – Planning & Infrastructure Sector, UPC, said:
“When the SSPM was first introduced in 2013, it was a challenge for users to understand why it was necessary to create such a manual because Abu Dhabi is one of the safest cities in the world,”
“However, Abu Dhabi’s Leadership identified that a proactive approach to safety and security is essential to enhancing resilience. Two years on, the UPC now has a growing number of best practice case studies that show how individual project teams have innovatively embedded security into their project designs. Security is discreet, effective and does not detract from the architecture or functioning of the sites.”
The volume of projects that have gone through the SSPM process reinforces how security is considered as a primary planning discipline and that new projects are responding to the need to ensure security is embedded into the urban fabric of the Emirate. The strong levels of collaboration between the UPC and the development community, and the efficient process and practical requirements of the SSPM, readily support this evolution in the Emirate’s planning approach.
Since its launch, the SSPM’s reputation as a manual that incorporates international best practice with local, context-based solutions has been steadily growing. It has featured prominently in global security publications, who have applauded the Abu Dhabi Government’s approach to proactively securing the Emirate’s built environment.
Furthermore, the UPC’s team of planning specialists have presented at the Counter Terrorism Expo, held in London, UK, and the SSPM has gone on to win the International Achievement Award and the Counter Terrorism Solution of the Year Award at the UK Security Excellence Awards in 2014.
“The SSPM is a key component in cementing Abu Dhabi’s position amongst the world’s safest cities; it has been ranked as the safest city in the Middle East and Africa, and the 25th safest globally, by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Safe Cities Index 2015 – a ranking that the Emirate is very proud of.” Al Sahi added.
The standard of the SSPM and the way in which it represents the best in international practices has resulted in its inclusion in the curriculum of the International and Civil Security Masters programme at Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research (KUSTAR). The UPC now delivers tutorials at the University on the SSPM, risk management, security strategy and practical site visits.
As the UPC continues to review projects on a daily basis, it is also thinking ahead to the future to build on the strong foundations laid by the SSPM over the past two years. The UPC is already progressing plans to hold a series of workshops with property developers and industry consultants to boost understanding of official guidelines on safety and security within real estate projects, with plans for further training opportunities to be announced in early 2016.
In addition, the UPC is finalising plans for the UPC’s UAE National employees to undergo a long-term training programme to ensure that within three years, they possess the technical skills to support the implementation of the SSPM and its evolution.