RDPSG Signature Panel: Urban Planning and Resilience during the Global Pandemic

Type: Virtual Panel
Theme: Regional Development and Planning Specialty Group Curated Track
Sponsor Groups: Regional Development and Planning Specialty Group
Organizers: Yingru Li, Gargi Chaudhuri, Felix Haifeng Liao
Chairs: Yingru Li


Organizers: Yingru Li (University of Central Florida, yingru.li@ucf.edu), Gargi Chaudhuri (University of Wisconsin LaCrosse, gchaudhuri@uwlax.edu), Dr. Felix Haifeng Liao (University of Idaho, hliao@uidaho.edu)

About 55% of the global population now live in urban areas. From an economic or environmental perspective, high density developments lead to more efficient use of resources, higher economic productivity and likelihood of innovation generation, and reduced environmental footprints (Hamidi, et al., 2020). However, within the context of the current global pandemic, cities are often the hotspots of COVID-19 infections due to high concentrations of residents and economic activities in urban area (Sharifi and Khavarian-Garmsir, 2020). The COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed attentions to the old debate on the potential vulnerabilities and resilience of cities to infectious diseases and pandemics (Mathew and McDonald, 2006; Sharifi and Khavarian-Garmsir, 2020).

As physical travel stops, we see a rise of telecommute and the demand for more mixed-use neighborhoods that can provide a range of services to people within a community. Planners are again thinking about pre-industrial urban areas where most daily needs were satisfied within a relatively small geographic area. This idea may seem counterintuitive to social distancing, but it also limits our interactions mainly to comparatively smaller and more stable communities with shared exposure and immunity within the community. It is currently unknown whether building such self-sufficient smaller communities is the answer towards a more resilient and sustainable mode of urbanization.
In developing countries, the lack of urban planning and the impacts on public health have brought more attention from the scholars and the public (Patel, 2020). For example, overcrowding slum communities have been facing the acute effects of the global pandemic and the preventive measures such as social distancing, frequent handwashing, and lockdown are hard to achieve. This COVID-19 crisis encourages us to rethink urban planning practices and public health responses for these cities to better prepare for future pandemics (Patel, 2020).

In this context we ask:
1. Does density or connectivity matter more in the spread of the infectious disease?
2. How do we address the problem of urban slum and sanitation within this context?
3. How do we balance the high economic productivity and the challenges that cities have faced to pandemics?
4. What a post-pandemic city planning will look like in future? Specifically, how do we build sustainable cities that can limit the spread of infectious disease?


Type Details Minutes
Introduction Yingru Li University of Central Florida 5
Panelist Diganta Das Nanyang Technological University 15
Panelist Diana Mitlin 15
Panelist Felix Haifeng Liao University of Idaho 15
Panelist Gargi Chaudhuri University of Wisconsin La Crosse 15
Discussant Jonah White Michigan State University 10

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