As many have observed, cities are humankind’s earliest inventions; they have endured through war, pestilence, and depressions. They will persist into the future, though will certainly experience changes in response to the current shock.
The fact that cities are at the frontline of today’s pandemic is not surprising. Their density makes them hotspots of the disease. Urban lockdowns will result in national GDP declines. Urban disparities, ranging from health to the digital divide to unemployment rates, are now in the spotlight.
Penn Institute for Urban Research fellows, faculty fellows, scholars, and associates have launched its inaugural Cities and Contagion: Lessons from COVID-19 initiative, which brings together experts across scholarly disciplines who can help interpret the pandemic’s implications for urbanization and the subsequent responses to its human and economic dimensions—work that will inform public and private decision-makers as they adapt cities to be more resilient, inclusive, and innovative.
This issue highlights numerous global urban issues looking at current and historical factors. In Urban Transportation Systems Are Essential, Megan Ryerson highlights the research she does to help urban transit systems be more accessible and inclusive. Her research includes identifying the large-scale infrastructure investments that will do the most good, and developing metrics for cities and states to design urban roads that are safe for pedestrians and cyclists.
In CURA: Shipping a COVID-19 Innovative Solution, Mauricio Rodas describes how the Ecuadorian city Quito utilized repurposed 20-foot shipping containers to remedy the shortage of intensive care units to treat COVID-19 patients.
And in Alexandria, Egypt: Social, Cultural, and Environmental Factors, Afaf I. Meleis finds that in modern and developing cities that are steeped in culture, “urban research becomes even more vital to understanding how social, cultural, and family structures interact with the lived physical environment to prevent, mitigate, or contribute to health and illness.”
Read more at Penn IUR.