Sweden mulls introducing digital ‘anti-terror’ fences

TT/The Local
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Sweden mulls introducing digital ‘anti-terror’ fences
A granite block on Stockholm's pedestrianized Drottninggatan, the target of a terror attack in April. Photo: Erik Simander / TT ,

Sweden plans to use digital 'geo-fences' in larger cities to protect against potential terror attacks.


Infrastructure Minister Tomas Eneroth hopes to introduce the 'geo-fences' in urban areas next year and which use technology that can digitally stop large vehicles  or reduce their speed.

In April, a stolen van was used to mow down pedestrians on a Stockholm street in a terror attack which killed five people.

Since then, Swedish authorities have worked to increase security against these kind of attacks, including the implementation of more physical barriers in pedestrianized areas, increased video surveillance and tightened security at large public events.

On Drottninggatan, the street targeted in April's attack, authorities have already doubled the number of concrete lions which are in place to stop vehicles driving down the pedestrianized streets. 

"Security on our pedestrianized streets has been improved. Directly after the terror attack we put out more stone lions, and we have also ordered heavier versions which are coming next year," said Daniel Halldén, Stockholm's transport commissioner.

The heavier lions will weigh three times as much as those currently in place, at three tonnes each, and will be placed in a way so that vehicles cannot drive straight ahead but are forced to turn, preventing them from being able to increase their speed.

READ ALSO: Swedish cities investigate new anti-terror measures

However, Halldén said that such barriers would be ineffective in the event of a truck attack like the one in New York on Tuesday, in which an attacker drove at high speed down a bicycle lane, targeting cyclists and pedestrians.

"What we would need is a system where no heavy vehicles can drive in the city centre without a box regulating their speed," he explained. "Then, if a truck drove too quickly or in an area where driving is forbidden, it would be stopped."

At the end of September, the government asked the Swedish Transport Administration to look into this kind of project.

"The technology is there, but it hasn't been tested on a large scale," said Sweden's Minister for Infrastructure, Tomas Eneroth, who hopes to introduce the geo-fences on a test basis next year.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said the government was working continuously with police and other authorities to try to prevent terrorist attacks, but said that the work would take time.

"We must naturally guarantee the safety of citizens as far as possible. We will never be able to say that [an attack] will never happen again. But we will work tirelessly to make it as safe as it ever can be," he said. 

The government has also ordered Sweden's Civil Contingencies Agency to increase security in public areas, in part by mapping out how responsibilities should be divided between the country's different authorities.

READ ALSO: The four big security challenges facing Sweden today



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