The coronavirus crisis revealed the burning need for an improved urban planning approach. The cities should be given technical support and information to create integrated infrastructure, social, and economic strategies locally. In turn, at the national level, governance should be improved to allow emergency response and recovery using more integral national-local coordination. Cities cannot cope with pandemics on their own; therefore, they need support both from federal and regional authorities. The significant change can be realized by utilizing national sectoral policies, fiscal transfers, and other kinds of support. Although the world is betting on vaccination and the invention of drugs for the aggressive viruses treatment, the impact of pandemics can be significantly reduced through problem-solving urban design and regional planning.
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Key Issues of the Post-Pandemic Urban Planning
The recent lockdown of both cities and the whole countries signaled the need for redevelopment and reorganization of urban design. The main challenge set for modern urban designers is making the city a healthy and safe living place – at least, to the highest possible extent (Litman, 2020). It is practically impossible without the relevant deep involvement of local and state authorities, especially permissive and financial assistance.
Public health measures to counter the spread of disease should be sufficient, well-coordinated, and rapid (Monto & Fukuda, 2020). A sustainable and resilient city is an essential need for a post-pandemic society. Therefore, the design, evaluation, and approval of an urban plan should base on health indicators. For instance, during the pandemic of coronavirus, the only places with the increased traffic were urban parks (until their lockdown in some areas). Hence, modern city planning should consider bringing more parks, watersheds, forests, and other opened spaces in the post- COVID-19 urban design. A holistic approach has to combine blue, green, and grey infrastructure with supporting better water management, health, and climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. The urban fabric with larger open spaces is also helpful in implementing evaluation protocols and emergency services.
Another challenge is decentralizing the essential services or the “city deconstruction” so each neighborhood has its infrastructure like homes, stores, office buildings, hospitals, and other uses. The neighborhood residents should be able to satisfy any of their needs within fifteen minutes – preferably, by foot. Walkable neighborhoods with jobs and services allocation can decrease the extreme city crowdedness and density the society got acquainted with. Especially these are applicable to the public transport, while its lockdown primarily occurs in terms of a pandemic.
Short-Term and Long-Term Impacts of Pandemic on the Cities
Potential Short-Term Impacts
The whole city, including all of its neighborhoods should create an interconnected and harmonious partnership and generate the needed data. Otherwise, the government is unable to monitor the change of conditions and respond accordingly. It is a current problem of practically all municipal governments. The distorted perception of the real state of affairs contributes to the wrong evaluation of the results of different policy options.
As the city neighborhoods and suburbs are affected by pandemics most of all, there is a crucial need for the high access of their population to the core services. Otherwise, the qualified governmental lockdown orders are impossible to be followed in the vast majority of cities worldwide. Regardless of peoples place of living, they should have free access, at least, to recreation and safe travel. Policymakers should focus on the financial support of affordable housing like rental assistance programs for the financially insecure classes. Finally, they should make sure that all the layers of the population have access to hospitals during the disease outbreaks regardless of their paying capacity.
Potential Long-Term Impacts
The remote work arrangements increase can significantly contribute to the renewed walking appreciation, the raise of neighborhoods activity, and, therefore, public transport flexibility. Moreover, building walkable neighborhoods, bicycle lanes, playgrounds, and parks are convenient to exercise so that people might reduce both psychological and physiological stress. Today, even urban planning should mostly be on the immunity side, as public health is not always about specific germs or diseases.
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Smart city technologies are essential to manage growing populations and offer effective transport systems (Kummitha, 2020). Simultaneously, smart city applications are aimed to reduce noise, water, and air pollution. They affect future public wellbeing while it is growing, developing, and emerging its mobility. For example, smart city application results in using transport during off-hours, changing the usual routes, using less energy, water, and other resources, paying more attention to preventive self-care, and, therefore, reducing the healthcare system load.
The COVID-19 made people rethink their attitude to the planet and stop exceeding its limits. Any pandemic has more chances to develop in terms of climate change, biodiversity loss, and deforestation. The world economies can recover from the current epidemic by utilizing low-carbon investments and benefiting from a green economy. In the post-pandemic world, it is rational to phase out fossil fuels and deploy renewable energy technologies. All of them are more profitable in terms of cost than fossil fuels and are globally available. For instance, taking into account the recent plunge of oil prices, fossil fuel subsidies can be eliminated.
COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated to the whole world that medicine was not able to protect everyone from such kinds of disease outbreaks (Shaw et al., 2020). Currently, the field of public health shifts not only to medical treatments and general immunization but also to improving urban infrastructure. The first and probably one of the most critical steps is investing in cities as systems. Environmental, economic, and social resilience are the three interconnected systems significantly dependent on each other. Therefore, the world is witnessing the domino effect of their concurrent failures. Taking into account that a city is a unified system, it should be re-organized more inclusive and resistant to future shocks.
Kummitha, R. K. R. (2020). Smart technologies for fighting pandemics: The techno- and human-driven approaches in controlling the virus transmission. Government Information Quarterly.
Litman, T. (2020). Pandemic-resilient community planning: Practical ways to help communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from pandemics and other economic, social, and environmental shocks. Victoria Transport Policy Institute.
Monto, A. S., & Fukuda, K. (2020). Lessons from influenza pandemics of the last 100 years. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 70(5), 951–957.
Shaw, R., Kim, Y., & Hua, J. (2020). Governance, technology and citizen behavior in a pandemic: Lessons from COVID-19 in East Asia. Progress in Disaster Science.