Transports hubs, like metro and railway stations, bus stations and big parking lots, airports, ports and their nearby infrastructures, are central parts of modern cities. Citizens and passengers flow through them every day and their safety should be the primary concern of all municipalities.

Public transport hubs are very crowded environments in which many safety and security events may arise, from accidents to fire and disruptions. On the other hand, due to their “open nature” and strategic relevance, they are considered a major potential target for terrorists and attackers.

A crisis is, by definition, “an event, revelation, allegation or set of circumstances which threatens the integrity, reputation, or survival of an individual or organization”.

The main sources of crises for transport organizations and specifically for transport intermodal hubs comprise:

  • Natural disasters: this category includes meteorological phenomena (such as typhoons, heavy rain, heavy snow, and thunderstorms), earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions.
  • Accidents: due to high traffic density, inter-modality issues and high automation, a high number of accidents occurs near transport hubs (e.g., aircraft taxiing phase, train switches, etc.).
  • Health issues and diseases: being gateways to other regions/nations, transport hubs can be nodes in which pathogenic viruses are spread at a rapid rate.
  • Security issues: terrorism, hijacking, cyber-crime, wars, etc. The terrorist attacks of September 9/11 and the bomb attacks to the Madrid and London subways (2004 and 2005) indicate that terrorist attacks may continue to have transportation as a main target.
  • Malfunctions or damage to key equipment: increasing automation makes major IT systems very important for transport hub operations. A malfunction affecting IT systems can cause major delays, incidents and economical losses.

In a world without borders, migrations and travels are transforming cities all over the world into melting pots of culture.
Over the past few decades, train stations, ports and airports have transformed from transportation hubs to a new kind of entity. Part shopping mall, part cultural centre and part “town square”, these entities are a cornerstone of a future completely multicultural civic life.
For this reasons they are ideal contexts, where the challenge of anticipating and identifying solutions to cultural problems arising in the event of a security and safety-related emergency can be faced.

Culture clearly plays a role in managing safety and security related emergencies.

Culture influences some key factors related to personal and collective behaviour that concern crisis prevention and emergency management. Among the others, different response to stress, different risk perception, different situational awareness, different reaction time and the attitude to create homogeneous groups with well-known people and/or people with similar cultural characteristics are usually culturally determined behaviours.

Culture is a notoriously difficult term to define. IMPACT refers to culture as a “complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society” and, following a broader definition, as

the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.

The notion of “categories of people” is arbitrary, covering any peculiarity that may distinguish one group of people from another, and may also vary in time: culture is as a dynamic and rapidly changing construct, particularly when referred to modern societies.

IMPACT will address culture as a broad and dynamic concept (including race, ethnicity, gender, age, language, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, disability, literacy level, spiritual and religious practices, individual values and others factors) with the scope of contributing to better understand the links between culture, risk perception, disaster prevention and management in transport hubs.