What can be done to prevent Berlin-style attacks in modern cities?

Arsenal’s emirates stadium
Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium / © Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Terrorist attacks using vehicles are very hard to prevent – but there are safety measures cities can use, experts say

The Berlin lorry attack on Monday that killed 12 people and injured 48 others raises a pressing question for security services across the world: what can be done to stop such attacks?

The attack on Berlin’s Christmas market came six months after a 19-tonne cargo truck was deliberately driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, killing 86 people and injuring 484.

This seemingly new – and brutally destructive – form of terrorist attack is quickly becoming one that security experts fear the most: it can cause untold carnage and seemingly come out of nowhere. And there are obvious limits on the effect of practical measures.

On Wednesday, Berlin’s police chief, Klaus Kandt, argued that bollards would not have prevented the attack. With “so many potential targets” – 2,500 Christmas markets in Germany and 60 in Berlin alone – he said it was impossible to reduce the risk to zero. But can they at least be made less likely? Yes, is the simplistic answer – but the measures to achieve that are varied, complex, and far from a panacea.

Barriers in public spaces
The primary way is to erect huge, imposing barriers around vulnerable crowded areas: indeed, police chiefs in Berlin said on Tuesday they would now erect new barriers.

In Britain, a lower-key approach has been favoured – until now, perhaps.

Ruth Reed, the head of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) planning group and its former president, said counter-terrorism officers would reassess the security of open spaces in the wake of the Berlin attack. […]

Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today.
Aline Chahine
Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today. Highlights Aline founded Architecture Lab in 2008 Lead editor of dan | dailyarchnews since 2019 Founded and Creative Director of DesignRaid Licensed architect with creative sales and marketing experience Experience As full-fledged architect, Aline's background involved a great deal of research that lead to the creation of Architecture Lab as an online database of exemplary design. Her experience snowballed into founding two architecture platforms, Architecture Lab and DesignRaid. Education Aline received USEK’s Master of Architecture in 2004 and BA in English from the University of Toronto
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About Architecture Lab Architecture Lab is a MKR.S Media brand, a website devoted to extraordinary design and aesthetics aiming to promote exceptional aesthetic values and sustainable design in all it's shapes and sizes. Learn more about us and our editorial process and feel free to contact us if you would like to see something in particular on the website, our certified experts will get back to you with the most trustworthy advice as soon as possible. Read all articles by Aline | Follow her on LinkedIn

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