Public Space: Fights and Fictions

ABSTRACT

Anna Minton: Security and Surveillance – Public Space as Threat?

The nature of public space and the public realm is changing as more and more public space is privatised—privately owned, privately controlled and policed by uniformed security guards and 24-hour CCTV. In the UK, this is the template for all new development, which also features in North America and to a lesser extent in Europe; in New York hundreds of innocuous sounding ‘POPS’—the acronym for publicly-owned public spaces—define public space in the city. This upside down definition of public space—where public is private—is turning the notion of ‘The Right to the City’ on its head; public space is increasingly characterised by ‘smart’ security technologies adapted from military to civilian use which exclude rather than include, and routinely ban a whole range of people, protests and behaviours—a ban that extends to the democratic rights to the city.