Counteracting the spread of petty crime in the public areas of a residential zone with new instruments which act on security and communication
Episodes of petty crime linked to migrant communities are adversely affecting the quality of life in the Quartiere Giardino district of Ferrara. Public territorial control projects have proved insufficient when implemented as sole solutions, due to the structural limits of law enforcement bodies. At the same time, the activation of projects of a cultural nature have been rejected by residents, who see them as a diversion from the prime security objective. There is a risk that the public spaces in the district will be avoided, because of repeated episodes of violence linked prevalently to the sale of drugs. The attempt to upgrade one of the green spaces with the installation of open-air sport facilities and community gardening have led to improvements in terms of liveability, but without profoundly affecting violence and petty crime phenomena.
A response to this challenge is required in which technical solutions for the security of public spaces are devised which increase the effectiveness of the upgrading schemes launched by local institutions and people. This solution must also provide practical answers with regard to the exchange of information and knowledge between the communities, with the activation of mutual awareness practices around the primary theme of security. It must be both a technological instrument and an occasion for introducing social cohesion practices.
In 2017 Factory Grisù organised almost 50 events in the district, cooperating with many public institutions, the university, 6 schools and different cultural organisations. About 1/5 of these addressed the challenge referred to in this call. Attendance at the events varied from 40 to 300 people. The meetings of the Nigerian community involve between 15 and 50 people, and are held regularly every third Sunday of the month. The population of the Giardino Arianuova Doro district is about 16,000, with a strong concentration of migrants amounting to about 10% of the city's total migrant population.
The challenge is located in the Giardino district of the city of Ferrara, a “buffer” area between the railway station, where the migratory flow of the Nigerian community is concentrated, and the historic city centre city. Consorzio Factory Grisù manages a cultural hub of creative businesses and is based in a historic building at the heart of the district. The building used be a fire station, and was an important institutional point of reference for residents in the district.
The target beneficiaries of the challenge solution are the members of the different communities resident in the district, identified in collaboration with various local organisations, including associations formed spontaneously in response to the security question and migrant community associations. The link between Factory Grisù and the communities is formed on a daily basis by means of artistic/cultural activities, and also by providing services to residents (e.g. a farmers' market).
Our organisation manages the building on behalf of the local authorities, on the basis of an agreement that commits us to developing employment opportunities in the cultural and creative spheres and providing services to the district. One of our central objectives is to enable the use of the former fire station by local residents. The building borders directly on major public areas and has a yard for open-air events.
The Consorzio hosts the formation of the Associazione Culturale Web Radio Giardino, run by 40 young people of different cultural and national backgrounds. The Associazione Nigeriani Ferrara has chosen to base its social activities at Factory Grisù. Spontaneously formed local organisations meet here to discuss the problems described above. The Factory hosts a range technical skills and cultural associations: web radio and there is also a photography association that manages an online magazine.The reference person is Massimo Marchetto, President of the Consorzio
Previous and current experiences demonstrate that exclusively cultural approaches, are seen by residents as diversionary with regard to the central question of security. Recent efforts involving military and volunteer patrols in the district have proved insufficient in relation to the scale of the phenomenon. We are looking for the creation of an instrument that supports security but at the same time introduces functions that make it useful in a public park. In addition, it must disseminate content that enhances mutual awareness between the communities in the district. Leaving the proposal free with regard to security, possible examples of functions are: free Wi-Fi, cellphone charging with the use of solar panels. Examples of “cultural” services are: book crossing, video, event leaflets.
Factory Grisù can provide the SPs with the network of local relationships needed to involve groups of target beneficiaries. Factory Grisù provides both rooms for meetings and spaces for technical use. Thanks to an optical fibre Internet connection, we are able to activate W-Fi services for the neighbouring public areas. We are also able to make use of the technical collaboration of the technical personnel in the existing businesses. We have a carpentry workshop and a 3D printing fablab. Web Radio Giardino is able to activate promotional and awareness actions. The development of content can be supported thanks to the presence of communications companies.
The network and private and institutional partners will be able to collaborate in the subsequent phase of extending the solution to the other public areas in the district, involving new partners and maintaining the collaborative relationships with the SPs.