The COVID-19 pandemic reveals two inevitable facts about our new reality: we are more connected than ever, and cities are at the forefront of this crisis and will be at the front of a similar globalized crisis in the future.
Since its inception in Wuhan, China, the novel corona virus and the disease it caused, COVID-19, has killed thousands of people, many of them in large urban centers around the world. The Map of infections in the United States closely follows its largest, most globally connected cities.
However, cities are not only at the forefront of responding to the pandemic, they are likely to see permanent changes from their physical form to their economic and community structure. Urban planning was characterized by infectious diseases For thousands of years. As governments, doctors and communities work to “flatten the curveIt is likely that some policies and behavior changes will affect the way we live in cities in the coming years.
Here are four ways cities are now working to combat the spread of the disease.
1. Restrict access
Local and international travel restrictions are the most obvious change in how cities around the world work.
According to the Chinese government Cut off transport In and out of Wuhan, and only allowing residents to leave their homes for closely monitored food or medical trips, other cities across the country have introduced housing closures that ultimately expanded to hundreds of millions of citizens mandatory self-quarantines and other travel restrictions. The city-state of Singapore has enforced strict travel restrictions and quarantine orders for hospitals and households with severe penalties for those who break the rules. France, Italy and Spain have now taken similar blocking measures.
In the United States, state and city governments respond individually. Some – including California, Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington, New York City, and the District of Columbia – prohibit certain-sized gatherings and close restaurants and bars. Others simply push for self-imposed social isolation. Do the shutdowns Ghost towns of formerly lively urban spaces and many companies face an uncertain future.
Travel restrictions have had a profound impact on productivity, air pollution and carbon emissions. In China, the pandemic has a 15-40% reduction This leads to a reduction in CO2 emissions of around 25%. Satellite data recorded a major change in air pollution China and Italy when restrictions came into effect. Given the relationship between urban air pollution and early death, some initial calculations even point to a change in air quality far-reaching positive effects on the health of the very young and very old.
However, past experience shows that emissions reductions occur due to an economic downturn likely to be temporary. The government has signaled this, for example, when factory production resumes in some areas of China Relax environmental rules otherwise it would help control emissions.
2. Strengthening public transport systems
Istanbul has deployed one Hygiene fleet of 40 vehicles and hundreds of personnel for the rehabilitation and refurbishment of public and municipal facilities. The fleet is also responsible for cleaning communal public spaces such as libraries, common rooms, cultural centers, facilities for disabled people and places of worship.
Istanbul has also improved routine cleaning protocols in its extensive public transport system, which serves more than 5 million people every day. Disinfectants were installed at more than 40 high-speed bus stations. Other major subway systems from Hong Kong to Washington, DC are also increasing cleaning.
A study in Hubei showed that COVID-19 spread from one person to nine over the course of a year single long-distance bus journeyThe bus operation – where it is still running – is adjusted to prevent the virus from spreading.
Kigali, Rwanda, has installed portable hand washing stations across the city at bus stops, taxi lines and parking lots. The led by Germany Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative has a number of adjustments by municipal bus fleets in Germany, Poland, Switzerland and China as well as one running Twitter thread Cataloging new efforts in local public transportation worldwide. To reduce contact with the drivers, many operators prohibit passengers from entering through the front door and have stopped selling tickets on board. In Switzerland, some buses have separated drivers from passengers with temporary barricades. In both Europe and China, bus companies have started using floor markings to indicate safe distances between drivers.
Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, has reduced bus operations by 50% Shenzhen, China has reduced the maximum occupancy of buses and other public transport vehicles to half their normal limit to reduce the likelihood of infection spreading.
3. Create alternatives to local public transport
As people avoid crowds and movement is restricted, cities report that the number of drivers in local public transport has declined sharply. Istanbul revealed a almost 50% decrease in the first three weeks of March in public transport – more than 2 million drivers. The BART system in San Francisco requested an emergency infusion of funds. weekly losses of $ 5 million, partly due to the pandemic that keeps drivers away. In China, some cities, such as Wuhan and Huanggang, have completely stopped public transport to contain the virus.
In Colombia, Bogotá is pursuing a creative alternative to trains and buses. Mayor Claudia Lopez announced that the city’s day street, the world-famous Ciclovía, which is normally only open on Sundays, will be closed to cars and also open to cyclists and pedestrians on weekdays. More than 76 kilometers of road closures are now taking effect every day of the week to offer people alternatives to commuting through the public transport system. The temporary new cycle paths complement the city’s 500 km long permanent cycle paths.
It is good to see how the emergency cycle paths in Bogotá developed:
Monday: 22 km of important corridors and only peak times
Tuesday: 117 km of the entire Ciclovía network and all day
Wednesday: 76 km adapted network and all day
(+ already have 500 km of permanent cycle paths) pic.twitter.com/pK92bn5iXR
– Carlos Efe Pardo (@carlosfpardo) March 18, 2020
Pedestrian traffic appears to be overall down Cycling has been reported to increase in the hardest hit cities, particularly tourists new York, Philadelphia and several cities in China. The increase in traffic can affect the safety of the bicycle infrastructure in many cities. In response to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s encouragement, “Bike or walk to work if you can“A petition calling for emergency cycle paths and other infrastructure changes has been launched by Transport alternatives.
Some governments have gone the other way when cycling. The police are in Spain, where new cases have risen sharply supposedly punish bikers for non-essential travel after people are ordered to stay at home other than go to work, go to the hospital, or buy food or medication.
4. Providing radical data transparency
When infections in South Korea rose in the city of Daegu, the country adopted a strategy from Open data and public participation. That has provoked some criticism but also led to a new kind of reaction.
South Korea has asked quarantined people at home to use self-diagnosis apps that connect them with medical staff, and launched a number of apps and websites that share detailed information about the spread of the disease. On Interactive map Created by a college student but filled with government data, shows places infected people have visited, as well as their demographic characteristics. ON popular privately developed mobile app Refers to this data to send alerts to users when they are within 100 meters (328 feet) of these locations.
Another way that South Korea asks for public participation is through tests. The city of Goyang has carried out an innovative non-contact drive-through test method. The city opened a facility in a parking lot where people can simply fold down their windows and have medical personnel in protective clothing wipe them down. Other cities, including Seoul, have followed Goyang’s example and opened similar facilities.
In the 3,300-person city of Vò, Italy, researchers a fully comprehensive test strategy This includes testing and retesting each individual resident. Half of the people who tested positive had no symptoms. Since they were identified early, they could be quarantined along with anyone they came into contact with. Health authorities now believe that they have essentially stopped the spread of the disease in this small community.
Cities’ immediate focus should be on stopping the spread of COVID-19, but current social distance threatens to disrupt what makes cities work: the human urge to gather. When life returns to normal – whatever that new normal may be – planners have to expect this disruption, paying particular attention to the urban poor, who have been left behind in many cities and towns will probably suffer more during the pandemic without careful consideration.
While governments are reassessing priorities and considering stimulus packages, the need for more resilient, fairer, and low-carbon cities remains unchanged. While the current crisis requires rethinking many different types of travel, including air travel, public transportation systems are still indispensable for city dwellers and should not be crippled financially.
Cities must work better for everyonehow the fragility of today’s economies has made clear. As the world adapts to this new reality, we are committed to ensuring that cities learn quickly from one another and find solutions that create resilient, thriving cities for everyone.
Schuyler zero is communication manager for the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.
Hillary Smith is a communication assistant at the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.
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