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Urban security concepts

Inner city protection – Rostock relies on security bollards with flat foundations

December 2018, the Christmas season has begun and the Christmas markets in Germany have recently been reopened. Time of reflection, time for shopping in the Christmas bustle of the inner cities. But the terrorist attacks in Europe, in Germany but above all on Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz, still cast their shadow over the municipalities. The security situation remains tense and the security authorities are under massive pressure. What is clear this year is that basically nothing is clear, at least as far as it comes to the choice of a citizen-friendly, sustainable and, above all, effective security concept. This is demonstrated by the diverse concepts the cities are offering.

Different concepts

Nuremberg has set up mobile Christmas trees at smaller access points to the famous Christkindlesmarkt. On the Dresden Striezelmarkt a mobile police station was built on the market. In Berlin, two years after the terrorist attack with a truck that killed 12 people, a nearly seamless security concept of the Breitscheidplatz with mobile vehicle security barriers (VSB) was set. The site is literally a fortress, with over a hundred huge, tightly placed welded baskets containing sand-filled plastic bags. Remaining small access points are additionally blocked with bollards. An overall increased security situation, a stronger police force and several security guards should round off the concept. The approximately 2.5 million expensive security concept, which is primarily intended to stop vehicles, is unique in Germany.

Things are unclear…

But what about ensuring a quick escape during an evacuation, for example, due to an attack inside the mobile “Fort Glühwein “, as the Berliner Kurier headlined. Particularly large mobile VSB affect escape routes by their expression, but also the insight into the area to be protected. Immediately affected persons recognise attacks only when they occur, when an escape is almost too late. So it may be enough for offenders to cause a mass panic.  Also, in the field of impact protection of mobile VSB, much is unclear. The market of mobile barriers is young, the protection level of many products is not confirmed. In addition to high-security products with impact resistance, which are tested and certified according to internationally valid standards, such as PAS 68, ASTM F2656 or IWA 14-1, there are many uncertified and even completely untested solutions available.

It feels like everything here is still in a kind of “beta test phase”. Often there is a lack of documented information on the depth of penetration obtained after an impact. Within the certification, the focus is often placed on IWA 14-2, i.e. the “Application Guideline”, instead of IWA 14-1, the “Performance Requirement Guideline”. The latter includes information on the performance requirement, the vehicle crash test and the performance evaluation, which ultimately provide information about the real level of protection of a VSB. On top of that, crash test certifications always apply exclusively to the tested configuration of a system. Any change, for example in the number or arrangement of components, will basically result in the expiry of the certification.

Back to Berlin. Fort Glühwein is massive. It is an obvious security concept. Eberhard Diepgen, former mayor of the city, told the Berliner Zeitung that of course it could also be smaller. This also heats up the discussion about the visual appearance of inner city security concepts. These should be civic-friendly and do not encourage fear due to a sense of constant threat.

Rostock relies on another concept

Not least from this point of view, the city of Rostock has taken a different path here. The city center, which is also home to the Christmas market, is gradually closed off with 180 bollards. The Christmas market alone becomes a protected space with over 50 fixed and removable bollards named “Truckstopper“. These fixed VSB are crash tested and certified under real conditions in accordance with British Standard PAS 68.

According to Rostock’s order and security senator Chris Müller-von Wrycz Rewkowski of the SPD, the very cost-efficient truck stoppers are more appealing than concrete blocks. The innovative crash bollards are specially designed to protect inner-city areas and can even be equipped with bike racks or hidden in attractive flower boxes, depending on requirements. They also offer some advantages over other solutions. These fixed anti-terrorist VSB with their particularly flat foundations offer lower, confirmed vehicle penetration depths. Impact loads are dissipated into the ground or foundation at the moment of impact. Due to the fixed mounting, they also offer a lower manipulability, a slow pushing away is for example impossible. In heavily frequented inner-city areas, security bollards are particularly suitable as they prevent vehicles from passing through. At the same time, they allow unhindered passage of people, bicycle and wheelchairs.  Even escape routes are not blocked.

Michael Dahinten, PPG Sales Manager explains: “Available as active or passive systems, bollards offer a high degree of flexibility. Fixed or passive systems are suitable wherever areas should be permanently blocked for vehicle traffic. Removable bollards with detachable locking parts can be mounted at increased terror threat or public events and be dismantled and stored in everyday use with normal flow of people. Movable or active bollards are not present in the lowered state and can be easily driven over, without hindering traffic. This also offers emergency services a smooth access. In case of emergency, the bollards rise from the ground within seconds, blocking areas quickly, effectively and reliably.”

In Rostock, the bollards can be controlled centrally through the city and in future also by the control center of the fire and rescue office. The city is consistently implementing this concept and will soon be securing the sea promenade in Warnemünde with bollards, among others.