One of the main aspects of COVID-19 is social distancing and isolation, the need to create space. In metropolitan areas around the world, this is easier said than done. As cities continue to grow and population numbers expand, more and more people have been forced to coexist in limited amounts of space.
As a result, governments and businesses worldwide continue to struggle. They struggle to find and put in place the necessary measures required to deal with this situation. How can cities and communities create more space while, at the same time, increase distances between individual people?
The answer to this question is not a straightforward one. However, it starts with technology, having enough technology to innovate adapt. For societies to thrive within the boundaries of a “new normal,” global business leaders and politicians need to find a sustainable balance with nature. They can do this by using technologies that maximize natural resources and policies of collaboration between citizens.
Finding a Natural Balance
A natural balance exists when all elements inside a particular environment live in harmony. In the case of a city, this includes public spaces, transportation systems, and natural environments. An example of a suitable natural environment in a developed area is a commercial garden or landscape. If adequately placed and maintained, it not only creates a visual appeal but also helps protect and nurture the environment by increasing the amount of oxygen available and reducing CO2.
There are many others. European bicycle-friendly cities such as Copenhagen in Denmark or Utrecht in Holland are fast becoming global examples of urban areas focusing on environmental protection and spaciousness. Using bicycles as a primary form of public transportation reduces traffic congestion and overcrowding, thus creating more space for individual citizens. This has proven to be especially useful in times of a pandemic when personal space is not a luxury but a necessity.
Technology, Infrastructure, and Space
When it comes to infrastructure, one way to create space is by building vertically. This is true both for housing and commercial property buildings. Vertical cities are no longer a concept of the future but rather a present need. The benefits of vertical cities are many. Vertical cities take up less space. They are also natural habitats, filled with trees and plants, waste management systems, and even food production.
Another example of technology used to create space in modern infrastructure is floating cities built from scratch. Floating cities provide an isolated, sustainable environment that causes no harm to the ocean itself or the marine life inside it.
One of the principal issues discussed in the UN-Habitat key message on COVID-19 and public space is the need to build “social resilience.” Social resilience is not simply enduring COVID-19 and accepting it as a part of our lives. It also entails conscious citizenship, public responsibility, and collaboration.
As citizens, it is not only our right but also our duty to protect ourselves and others from the spread of the virus. We should limit the time we go outside. We should also wear protection outdoors and distance ourselves from others as much as we can. Only by doing this can we limit the number of people infected.
There is no end in sight to COVID-19. An effective vaccine has yet to be developed. Yet, cities worldwide are starting to adapt. They are doing so by using a combination of technology and natural sustainability. Examples include housing facilities, businesses, transportation systems, and other public spaces.
The key to success, though, lies in us, the citizens, and our willingness to adapt, implement, and embrace the changes that continue to occur.