Epidemiological Impact of Sustainable Urban Development

  • Feged Rivadeneira, Alejandro (PI)
  • González- Casabianca, Felipe (CoI)
  • Cascante Vega, Jaime Enrique (CoI)
  • Llewellyn, Martin (CoI)

Project: Research Project

Project Details


Around the world, non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) have been the lynchpin of COVID-19 mitigation efforts [Ferguson NM 2020].

However, when applied as long-term lockdowns, they have a huge social and economic cost distributed unevenly among the most vulnerable populations [Flaxman, S. 2020].

Mobility data, understood as the number of trips between discrete geographic locations, and available from smartphone users has enabled near real-time tracking of these NPIs [Kraemer, M.U.G. 2020].

Interestingly, these data sets show that some cities such as Auckland and Portland, with successful public health strategies during the pandemic, have experienced little disruption to their typical mobility patterns, which raises the question: what "typical" mobility patterns? " optimize outbreak mitigation? Is there a link between sustainable mobility, as understood through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and outbreak mitigation?

This project intends to explore this question by implementing three urban interventions in different neighborhoods of Bogotá.

These interventions will allow our interdisciplinary team to assess the impact of urban development (eg mobility, access to government services, well-being...) along with epidemiological metrics (eg effective breeding numbers, events of superdiffusion, the number of contacts...).

In addition, they will present an important opportunity to refine our methodology of making academic knowledge (from U. Rosario and U. Glasgow) and valuable private sector resources (Servinformación) accessible to policy makers.

We propose a framework for integrating public health records, genomic data, and mobile phone data into decision-making processes.

Our approach integrates tools from fields such as Big Data (mobility and contact networks), genomic data from viral samples, design thinking, knowledge transfer, urban acupuncture, and tactical urbanism.

The framework looks at factors such as contact heterogeneity, network structure, mobility, sentiment, viral genomes, and disease burden measured in space and time.

Commitments / Obligations

Our preliminary results from a smaller scale implementation of our methodology suggest our framework can be successfully used to measure in close-to real time (2 days delay) the efficacy of NPI upon the epidemic, and the effect of the interventions on the well-being of the population.

Interventions: Our proposal includes the implementation of 3 community interventions that we expect will, on one hand produce valuable data on the link between urban sustainable development and epidemiological preparedness, and on the other strengthen the social fabric of the communities.

Strengthening relationships with our partners: While our results are promising, our group is at an early stage and consolidating partners is our priority at the moment. With this grant, our group will be able to go beyond our initial results with the Municipality of Palmira, expanding our advisory capability on a broader scale. We expect to continue to consolidate our partnership with Servinformación to continue to bring private industry to support public initiatives, as well as continuing to build our collaboration with the Llewellyn lab in developing models to describe the role of mobility in the spread of diseases.

Epidemiological research: The efficacy of NPIs such as general lockdowns vs. localized lockdowns has been a matter of public debate.

Quarantine fatigue has become problematic for public health interventions aiming at reducing the burden of the pandemic across the world.

Our research shows that localized lockdowns are just as effective as generalized lockdowns in terms of reducing the risk of super-spreaders across metropolitan areas.

We have been able estimate the effect of public health interventions such as opening higher education on-site activities before it is implemented, by measuring the number of contacts in universities prior to the generalized lockdowns.

With this grant, our team will be able to provide support to the local government throughout 2021, when the pandemic is still anticipated to be a burden outside of the high-income countries in the world.

This is expected o be accompanied with the production of valuable knowledge regarding outbreak prevention in large cities.

Urban development: Public authorities around the world have seen this pandemic as the rise of a new kind of decision making in public policy, and urban development has been no exception.

During the pandemic, cities around the world have responded with flexibility of urban space usage, devoting dedicated lanes to bicycles, and in general implementing low-cost solutions to problems that were exacerbated but present prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The heterogeneity of efficacy of such measures has been, to a great extent, attributed to the appropriate design process, whereby similar interventions have contrasting effects on the pandemic and well-being of the general population.

Our work has shown that data-driven policy response is crucial for a new era of risk management, and that risk management (such as reducing the risk of transmission) and well-being (such as mitigating the impact of NPIs) can and should be conceived holistically.
Effective start/end date6/1/213/31/22

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth

Main Funding Source

  • International


  • Bogotá D.C.
  • Europe
  • North America


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