Doug Bedell — July 1, 2010, 7:09 am

Security Communities

Want to do some reading and thinking about security? How about the notion of creating security through a community of involvement – practitioners joining together to figure out what can make their buildings or systems safer?

Philip J. Palin, a research fellow with the Pace University graduate program in Management for Public Safety and Homeland Security Professionals, proposes on Homeland Security Watch that we at least think about joining together for the common defense.

Anyone remember the air raid wardens in World War II? My father was one. That was as a volunteer. Palin’s grandfather worked for the Soil Erosion Service of the Interior and, later, Agriculture departments during the Dust Bowl years. That was a paid job. But both helped build community and preparedness on their rounds.

In the gulf, Palin suggests, why not get the stakeholders together “to participate, collaborate and deliberate,” the way a community would do it. “For example, as a lease requirement, every party awarded drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico would participate in and partially fund preparedness activities with other drillers, with state and local officials in the region, with the Coast Guard, with federal regulators, and with representatives of all those who share an interest in the common-pool resources of the Gulf of Mexico.”

In cities and suburbs, we might add, why not get people concerned with emergency preparedness and infrastructure security – public and private – together to support each other and enhance public safety?

It’s time, Palin suggests, that Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone ceases to become the defining book of our times. Think about that; better yet, act in favor of community. We have too little social capital left; we need to create more.

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