Brazil is ninth in the world ranking of violence, according to 2018 data from the World Health Organisation (WHO). In 2019, the Brazilian Yearbook of Public Security reported there were 57,000 murders in the country – a 10.8% reduction compared to 2018, but still a very high and worrying number.
For years, Brazilian authorities have discussed ways to reduce violence, such as investing in intelligence and policies involving areas such as the prison system, information sharing, identification and punishment. The challenge is enormous, especially in a country of continental dimensions. An integrated approach which examines the origins of the problem and proposes practical and immediate solutions on several fronts is required.
For us at Planet, the issue of safety is a priority since it is one of our clients’ first questions. Is the city safe? Will my children have a place to play peacefully? Is it safe to come home at night? Will my family be protected? Our teams address these questions through a set of measures adopted in our projects.
As we do in other parts of the world, one of our first tasks is to examine challenges in the context we operate in and then integrate solutions that are relevant to clients into our projects. Based on this, we believe that one of the determining factors for understanding the issue of violence in Brazil is undoubtedly social inequality and the concentration of income in the country.
A study released by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) reveals that the concentration of income increased in 2018, reinforcing the extreme social inequality in the country. The average monthly income of the wealthiest 1% population was almost 34 times higher than the poorest 50% in 2018. According to IBGE, the increased inequality reflects the lack of real minimum wage earnings in 2018, in addition to informality within the labour market.
Recent studies by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) shows that social inequality is among the most significant causes of violence among young people aged 15 to 24. There are many ways to solve such a challenge, but promoting the social inclusion of young people through education and employment are two lawful mechanisms of social ascension, which should be a priority for government and private initiatives.
Moreover, intelligent prevention and repression are the perfect formulae for public security policies around the world. A major security success story is in the United States, where the number of homicides in the city of New York fell 87% between 1990 and 2018. Among the factors leading to this impressive decline in violence is the over 35% increase in the number of police officers between 1990 and 2000, the use of technology with the deployment of video-monitoring cameras and the improvement of residents’ quality of life.
To promote security and offer our clients a peaceful environment at our projects in Brazil, we have adopted a set of intelligent solutions. By combining technological tools, urban planning and social inclusion programmes that involve residents and the population of the region, we can offer concrete ways of social advancement through education and professional training.
The Planet Institute promotes free courses for residents and the surrounding population of our smart cities. Courses include English, IT and entrepreneurship, as well as handicraft workshops and digital illustration, among others.
Founded in 2016, the Planet Institute has already benefited more than 6,000 people, such as Maria Monteiro, 38, who lives in a neighbourhood nearby to Smart City Natal. After doing a craft workshop promoted by the Institute that uses local and sustainable materials, Maria found the chance to start over and have a source of income, having lived without a fixed job since 2014.
The key to creating a balanced urban environment is to harmoniously distribute the presence of residential, commercial and business areas within the city. This allows for the constant presence of people, making the environment safer. It also ensures that citizens can easily find goods and services close to home.
Cities are designed in such a way to reduce traffic and accommodate adequate street widths. The central avenue is quite broad, the secondary streets favour flow between the areas and the tertiary streets inside the neighbourhoods stimulate low speeds to provide greater security.
In free translation, this French expression means “dead-end street”. In Smart City Laguna, all residential streets are dead ends, but at the end of each one of them ‘return balloons’ have been built, forcing vehicles that need to return to slow down. This increases safety and reduces the risk of accidents.
Residents remain in regular contact and monitor the entry of suspicious people and cars via groups created on the Planet App, which facilitates communication between them and generates a virtuous circle of participatory security.
The main public areas are monitored, and residents can follow everything live through the Planet App, a free application that works as the city’s control panel.
If an emergency arises, users can press the SOS button on the Planet App, which immediately warns up to five saved emergency contacts. They are informed that the person needs help and can see their geolocation.
To conclude, it is increasingly evident that combating safety issues requires investment in education, technology and intelligence alongside the promotion of social inclusion and a sense of belonging. Our Competence Center in Italy continues to study new smart solutions to improve the safety and quality of life for our customers.
Co-founder and CEO of Planet in Brazil