Session 1A: Social outcomes from Covid-19
Social outcomes from Covid-19: Lessons for future infrastructure design and policy
Note: maximum 20 participants
Special session organized and chaired by Nick Tyler and Sara Adhitya, University College London
This workshop aims to gather experiences from the international ISNGI community of how Covid-19 impacted on their social interactions. We will collate personal observations of changes in social behaviour over the past 2+ years with the aim of drawing out differences and similarities of approach in different cities to the challenges posed by responding to the virus. The participants will then work collaboratively to categorise these responses in terms of their effectiveness and identify those which are felt to have provided a positive contribution to society and those which were more negative. We hope to learn from both positive and negative contributions to inform the future development of infrastructure that would encourage greater social cohesion.
We will also discuss policy implications of these approaches, drawing on the participants’ experiences. For example, in some boroughs in London, emergency powers were used to reduce space for cars on streets to allow footway widths to be increased in order to allow greater physical distancing between pedestrians. In addition, some road space was also made into cycle lanes in order to encourage active travel. However, while these interventions proved popular and effective in many cases, they still attracted some strong vocal opposition which eventually led to the original arrangements being reinstated. This is just one example in which a promising Covid-19 intervention can be viewed as a missed opportunity to create enduring policy improvements which could continue to enhance sociality and active travel. We will also discuss interventions that were not considered successful and explore how they could be improved in the future.
The outcome of the workshop will be a reconsideration of how future infrastructure design and policy could be informed by the lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Questions to be discussed in the workshop include:
How did people achieve sociality when physical distancing was imposed?
How have people in your city responded to physical distancing?
What was the effect of mask-wearing on social interactions?
Why didn’t temporary infrastructure changes remain in place after the event?
This workshop will be of interest to a range of urban professionals and researchers, including urban planners, designers, engineers, transport operators, urban policy makers, sociologists, local government officials and anyone involved in community engagement during the Covid-19 pandemic.