Over the past few months, coronavirus lockdowns have impacted cities and communities all over the globe in dramatic ways. This has raised the question: Is there still a place for cities?
The answer is not simple; it requires us to learn from what has happened over the past few months and rethink how we leverage technology to reimagine what cities can be, and the critical role they play in our collective future.What has COVID-19 taught us? Reimagining work. The recent shift to work-from-home workforces has major implications for our cities, businesses, and individual health and happiness. At the start of the pandemic, businesses within cities were focused on getting their employees working remotely and securely, with access to the appropriate tools. As the reality of the pandemic as a long-term shift sets in, businesses will need to learn how to sustain a remote working model and manage a hybrid (home- and office-based) workforce. We’ve also seen telehealth and distance learning take giant leaps forward, potentially making health and education more accessible to a wider population. Technology is playing a key role, as the World Economic Forum has observed. While initiatives like the Connected North program, which provided remote learning for far-flung Inuit communities across Northern Canada, were underway before COVID-19, post-pandemic access to remote learning, medicine, and employment will be much broader. Glocalization: Governments and the private sector are working smarter and more closely together. In cities around the world, COVID-19 has forced renewed attention to health and wellness, and put a premium on connectivity, collaboration, and public health data. While different towns, cities, and states have taken multiple strategies and approaches, the bottom line is that we have worked together as a nation and a world to curb the spread of the virus. Together we are researching vaccines, and innovating in new ways. This teamwork can and should shape how we move forward. We were on our way to a smart, connected future before the pandemic; this has shown us we need to get there faster. Cleaning up the environment. Data from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), and other sources indicate dramatic reductions in nitrogen dioxide and other pollutants around the world. From China to India to the U.S., the world is experiencing air polluti