The speed and scale of the urban revolution is mesmerizing. Just 3 percent of the world’s population lived in cities in the early 1800s as compared to over 50 percent today. There are currently over 4,000 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants around the world, home to over 4 billion people. Just 600 of them account for more than two thirds of global gross domestic product. Among the latter are 34 megacities , home to one-fifth of humanity.
National and city authorities are in the business of imposing order. In ideal cases this is pursued as a means to an end — the securing of property rights, safety of citizens and the promotion of growth. But in many cities, order is an end in itself and fuels growth models benefiting the elite at the expense of the majority. Where cities are unable to provide even the most rudimentary core functions , including security, they are fragile. In such environments, alternative service providers — from gangs to vigilantes and private guards — emerge. The privatization of security in fragile cities is routine.
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