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A Study on Urban Safety Indicators for Seoul

Sang-Young ShinㆍYoun-Sang Lee


Indicators provide summarized information on conditions and changes of interest. It has the merit in that policy makers and citizens can easily understand the situations by quantifying and simplifying complex real world situations.

Urban safety indicators are indicators that show conditions and changes of urban safety (or risk) and safety management activities. They support policy making for urban safety and provide urban safety information to citizens.

At this time, urban safety indicators are employed on a case-by-case and only when necessary. They are not systematically developed and are utilized by considering various urban safety areas. Databases used to measure urban safety indicators have problems and institutional arrangements to utilize such indicators are insufficient.

The purpose of this study is to suggest development and utilization of urban safety indicators for metropolitan Seoul after exploring concepts and domains of urban safety and investigating relevant domestic and foreign cases.

First, we explore concepts and various types of urban safety indicators-based on indicators in general.

Second, we look into current urban safety indicators employed by Seoul Metropolitan City and specify current problems and issues. The indicators are overwhelmingly individual input and output indicators that are related to priority projects and businesses of the city government. Outcome indicators that are policy goal oriented and citizen oriented are rarely used. And the indicators are not systematic and representative.

Third, this study investigates urban safety indicators used by domestic national government agencies and by international organizations and foreign cities such as London, New York, and Tokyo. Recently, the Korean national government announced a Regional Safety Index to compare different cities and support safety management policies and activities, but the index does not properly represent the reality of urban safety in individual cities such as Seoul. Several private organizations announce urban safety or risk indicators to support investment and risk management, but such indicators or indices does not well represent the reality of urban safety within individual cities. In some situations, several cities have developed their own indicators or risk indices to support safety management policies, and such measures are strongly based on each city’s reality of urban safety problems.

Fourth, we suggest urban safety indicators for Seoul. We suggest goal-oriented and problem-solving indicator systems, and emphasize sustainable output or outcome indicators and citizen-oriented indicators.

The indicators consist of objective and subjective indicators. The objective indicators consist of indicators by risk type and common safety management indicators. The indicators by risk type delineate occurrence, damage, urban environment and vulnerability, safety management measures, and risks related to natural disasters, manmade disasters, traffic safety, daily-life safety and crime safety respectively. The common safety management indicators represent emergency response, public participation and capacity, and administrative capacity and support. Subjective indicators are based on a questionnaire survey reflecting citizens’ perception, satisfaction, and priorities with regard to urban risk and safety management.

This study suggests 90 indicators: 80 objective and 10 subjective indicators.

Meanwhile, we suggest directions for developing risk indices as prospective composite indicators; - there are numerous cases of risk indices. The risk index to be employed by Seoul Metropolitan City should be based on qualified methodologies and well represent the reality of urban safety issues in Seoul.

Fifth, we conduct case studies of urban safety using indicators. According to the comparisons of urban safety of Seoul and other major cities in Korea, Seoul has a relatively high level of manmade disaster, daily-life accidents, and crime. Since Seoul is a high-density city compared to other domestic cities, the risk level is higher when using urbanized areas as a denominator than when using population as a denominator.

According to the comparisons of urban safety of Seoul and other foreign cities, Seoul is relatively highest traffic fatality, but its crime rate is relatively low.

Finally, we suggest applications and institutional improvements for urban safety indicators. Urban safety indicators should be monitored periodically, support policy making for safety management, and provide information to citizens. In order to calculate safety indicators automatically and quickly, database systems must be improved. Cooperation systems should be improved to gather necessary data scattered in various divisions and agencies. And lastly, the ordinance related to urban safety statistics and indicators should be improved.



01 Introduction

1_Background and Purpose

2_Main Contents and Research Methods


02 Urban Safety Indicators: Concept and Types

1_Concept and Types of Indicators

2_Concept and Types of Urban Safety Indicators


03 Current Urban Safety Indicators in Seoul Metropolitan City

1_Operational States of Urban Safety Indicators

2_Characteristics of Urban Safety Indicators

3_Problems and Issues


04 Urban Safety Indicators in Domestic and Foreign Countries

1_Urban Safety Indicators in Domestic National Government

2_Urban Safety Indicators in International Organizations and Foreign Cities


05 Suggesting Urban Safety Indicators for Seoul

1_Basic Directions and Indicator Systems

2_Major Disasters and Accidents to Develop Indicators

3_Urban Safety Indicators by Domain

4_Directions for Developing Risk Index

06 Case Study of Urban Safety Using Indicators

1_Comparing Urban Safety of Seoul and Other Major Cities in Korea

2_Comparing Urban Safety of Seoul and Foreign Major Cities


07 Applications and Institutional Improvements for Urban Safety Indicators

1_Application Systems and Monitoring of Urban Safety Indicators

2_Improvements of Databases

3_Institutional Improvements