tackle the perception of insecurity in the municipalities of Barcelona metropolitan area, via video surveillance in the streets and one apps mobile phone that has been developing for years (iscall M7) that allows citizens to act preventive alerts against criminal risks, is the purpose of the new “comprehensive metropolitan security system” that drives the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB), announced at the beginning of the year and presented at the Smart City Expo World Congress 2022 this wednesday november 16 in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.

    In charge of the presentation has been Antonio Balmon (PSC), Executive Vice President of WBA and mayor of Cornella de Llobregat since 2004, who has remarked that the initiative “does not try to launch a metropolitan police“but of a”Public politics coordinated network”, currently active in thirteen municipalities of Greater Barcelona (Cornellà de Llobregat, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Santa Coloma de Gramenet or Sant Boi de Llobregat between them), “so that citizens feel more secure”.

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    Although the system is already operational in some locations, it will not be until the next term, after the municipal elections in 2023, when it is fully deployed. “I don’t want it to be construed as electoralism: I am preparing the specific proposals to carry them out during the next term”, commented Balmón, who stated that “the legal implications to see how to develop the system in the 36 metropolitan municipalities”.

    of how the preventive alerts and the video surveillance to the use of personal information of the citizenry, these are the keys to the new “comprehensive metropolitan security system” of the AMB.

    Immediate citizen alerts

    The apps M7 has been designed for any citizen, “without the need for a court order,” Balmón has remarked, to be able to trigger a preventive alert that arrives immediately and automatically at the local police of the municipalities. The mayor of Cornellà has given the examples of a woman in a potential situation of sexist violence or one old person that is misplaced and lost.

    “In Cornellà we had a case of criminal cars for which, through the system, we were able to notify the Mossos d’Esquadra and it worked perfectly”, explained Balmón. In this sense, the AMB assures that “it will open a dialogue with the administrations affected [Generalitat de Catalunya y gobiernos locales] and will promote the coordination and cooperation between the local police and the Mossos d’Esquadra”.

    Video surveillance on the streets

    Another of the extremes that have focused Balmón’s exhibition is “the deployment of cameras” in the streets of metropolitan cities, just as announced the WBA along with other measures such as the “reinforcement of the Street lighting” or the “eradication of unsafe corners”, that they do not incur a “invasive use of privacy but “that they can recognize you at the moment you need it [cuando la alerta ciudadana es accionada] and that the action of any police patrol can be immediate”, in the words of Balmón.

    Use of citizen personal data

    Questioned about the implications of the personal data of citizens in the use of the apps, Balmón, has valued the “guarantee” that the administrations offer “to manage that a misuse of data and that these are used in favor of our security”. To illustrate one of the current uses of the application in Cornellà, the mayor has spoken of a pilot experience of opening of libraries premises “24 hours a day and every day of the year”, a scenario in which “even if there is no municipal staff, the apps allows access and notify if people feel unsafe.

    Tackle the perception of insecurity

    As the raison d’être of the initiative for the new system, Balmón has separated it from the “increase in criminal acts” to relate it to the “perception of insecurity” of citizenship, which can “become a inequality element if not treated well.” According to this 2021 study of Institute of Regional and Metropolitan Studies of Barcelona (IERMB), The metropolitan cities that currently register the greatest feeling of insecurity are, in this order, Santa Coloma de Gramenet, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Badalona and Barcelona.