NEW YORK CITY—“You can never do enough, but New York is better prepared than any city that I’m aware of,” Raymond Kelly, former New York City police commissioner and now president of risk management services at Cushman & Wakefield, said at RealShare New York. Yet amid the rise of ISIS to prominence on the global stage and with some 16 terrorist plots against the city foiled since 9/11, New York remains a target and will be one for a long time, Kelly said during a one-on-one interview with Michael G. Desiato, vice president and group publisher of ALM’s Real Estate Media Group.
While the possibility of a physical act of terror is cause for concern on its own, it’s hardly the only risk that commercial real estate needs to manage. As the hacking incidents at Target and JPMorgan Chase have illustrated, cybersecurity has become “a major challenge,” Kelly told the 300-plus industry professionals gathered at the Roosevelt Hotel on Thursday. In the case of the JPMorgan cyberattack that affected some 76 million personal and business accounts, some experts have speculated that “it was just a shot across the bow.”
While so-called “hacktivists” who are motivated by their own agendas represent one avenue of cybercrime, the sheer quantity of malware on the Web means that the issue is more widespread than that. Some hackers commit the online equivalent of breaking and entering just for the fun of it, and Kelly pointed out, “A lot of intrusions are the result of carelessness on the part of employees.”
A number of industry leaders who took the stage during this year’s RealShare New York conference made the point that a feeling of public safety was essential to maintaining the city’s quality of life, and Kelly cited the findings of criminologist Franklin Zimring. In his 2011 book The City That Became Safe: New York’s Lessons for Urban Crime and Its Control, Zimring wrote that the city’s 80% reduction in crime since 1990 “had never been seen in the developed world—the breadth and depth,” Kelly said.
Zimring’s book credited “more effective police work” for the unprecedented decline in crime, Kelly said. “You in the commercial real estate world know how important that reduction in crime and increased sense of public safety has been to your business.” He expressed concern over the “negative signals” being sent by the de Blasio administration, worrying that the current administration’s messages could discourage police officers from making the kind of efforts that helped drive homicides, robberies and other felonies downward during the Giuliani and Bloomberg years.