Lessons for Resilience
Consider methods to increase participatory decision-making
Consider methods to increase participatory decision-making. The Open City Toolkit (OCT) is a web-based geographic information system (GIS) that supports “integrated and participatory urban planning processes, fostering dialogue between governments and citizens and exchange of knowledge and data between government departments”. The OCT Toolkit, developed by HafenCity University Hamburg (HCU) and Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeir GnbH (GIZ), is now freely available and offers:
- Guidance to help local government and urban planners to visualise and analyse complex urban data, collaboratively among local practitioners and with citizens
- An online introductory tutorial which details the technical components of the system and how these components work together for the tool to function
- A further tutorial series which guides the user of the OCT step-by-step through the process of managing the system.
The OCT is currently being piloted in two cities:
- Bhubaneswar, India where high numbers of people are living in informal settlements (e.g. slums) and the local government are using the OCT to identify land for the development of affordable housing
- Latacunga, Ecuador, where large areas of the city are vulnerable to risk due to their proximity to the Cotopaxi volcano and the local government intend to use the OCT to develop collaborative solutions for volcanic risk governance
The OCT has been adapted to the specific local planning requirements of the two pilot cities mentioned above, but offers open software for the development of further functionalities for new contexts.
Consider the impact of COVID-19 on commuter behaviour
Although home-based working has become the norm for a large percentage of the population, many workers have had to be physically present in their usual workplace. Many who have had to travel to workplaces during the pandemic have changed their mode of transport due to potential infection risks, delays and inconvenience due to cancelled or reduced public transport - i.e. they have changed their commute from public transport to private cars or bicycles. This has reduced their travel time, especially as traffic volumes are below pre-pandemic levels. Consider:
- That traffic congestion and the demand for parking space could increase dramatically as restrictions ease and more people opt for private transport, which may lead to increases in:
- Infrastructure maintenance costs on roads and motorways
- Negative environmental impacts, e.g. pollution
- Road traffic accidents and increased risk to cyclists and pedestrians, plus loss of public space, which may reduce the number of people who choose to cycle or walk
- Costs and challenges for freight and delivery services
- A travel awareness communication campaign, prior to an ease of restrictions:
- Raise awareness of the benefits of sustainable travel for improving air quality and reducing pollution
- Promote the health and well-being benefits of 'active transport' such as cycling
- Communicate the stringent safety measures in place on public transport to increase confidence and encourage people to travel by bus/train
- Draw on learning from previous crises to predict likely behaviours and inform policies that are fit for purpose, e.g. following the 2008 economic crisis, increased traffic increased congestion (Madrid, Spain)
- Expand and improve cycling and walking space and infrastructure around workplaces
- In cities, reduce speed limits to allow pedestrians and cyclists to be more confident and allow for social distancing
- Promote and expand schemes such as 'Cycle2Work' by removing spending caps and allowing people to by bikes through the scheme that are appropriate and relevant for them (see TMB Issue 7):
- Introduce a reimbursement scheme to reward cycling commuters, e.g. Netherlands offer 0.19 cent (euro) per kilometre cycled to work, or interest-free loans to purchase bikes
- Trial an e-bike hire scheme in cities, e.g. Leicester (UK)
- Review congestions charge policies and assess if they are appropriate for post-COVID activity
- Introduce new policies, e.g. workplace parking levy, a charge on employers who provide workplace parking (Nottingham City Council, UK)
Iran, Islamic Republic of,
Consider how to initiate a COVID-19 vaccine programme
Vaccine programmes will need to source sufficient vaccine, notify recipients of their eligibility, and arrange processes to administer the vaccine. Vaccine wastage, recipient confusion over invitations, and inefficient processes will risk undermining the programme's efficacy. To build early confidence in vaccine programmes:
- Agree the current aim for the vaccine programme e.g. to reduce immediate risk to life
- Identify the priority groups to vaccinate to achieve the current aim
- Identify individual citizens who belong to those priority groups
- Disseminate public information on current priority groups to manage expectations
- Explain to agencies that lobby for their staff to be given higher priority why they are currently prioritised as set out in the priority groups - and explain how this achieves the current aim
- Establish a national register of healthcare staff who are qualified to administer the vaccine -including volunteers and other staff who have been recently trained and approved
- Identify suitable facilities that can act as vaccine centres e.g. doctor surgeries, schools, public buildings, mass vaccine centres
- Identify the demand for vaccine at each vaccine centre (based on estimated throughput) and ensure that sufficient supply is available when it is needed
- Identify how the vaccine will be transported to centres and stored appropriately
- Maintain close communication with each vaccine centre to share information, for example, on:
- Stock levels, delivery schedules, and projected demand
- Which patients have received the vaccine
- Which patients have been refused the vaccine and for what reason
- Track the performance of vaccine centres to analyse programme risks and capacities, for example, implement an inventory management system to reduce vaccine waste such as by tracking expiry dates (continued)
- Consider future aims for later in the vaccine programme and the timing of vaccinating different priority groups to achieve those aims e.g. to re-open non-essential business
- Seek process-related advice from countries that have already established vaccine centres e.g. Germany
Consider the release and use of Open Government Data (OGD) in response to the COVID-19 outbreak
The scale of COVID-19 requires information to the shared across countries and regions effectively. Consider how your organization can contribute to open data sets such as The Living Repository and the 'OECD - GOVLAB- Call for Evidence: Use of Open Government Data in COVID-19 Outbreak'. Consider contributing or using open data to identify:
- COVID-19 cases, individuals at risk, and forecasting future scenarios, including disease spread/contraction, and possible treatments for those infected
- Availability and demand for supplies, locating and connecting actors with medical supplies
- Whether communities adhere to guidelines and recommendations outlined by health authorities
- Public perceptions and how restrictions are affecting well-being, including crime e.g. the rise in domestic violence and child abuse
- Whether efforts are efficient, transparent, meet needs, and do not violate democracy, privacy, ethics or fundamental human rights
- Misinformation including accuracy, speed and scale of fact-checking
- How, where, and when lockdowns are lifted
- How the pandemic affects those who live and travel outside their country of national origin
- The most effective forms of aid to those most vulnerable to the pandemic's economic shocks
- The risks and challenges workers face to their health and safety and the protections available
- The impact on the ability of students and workers to meet learning and training outcomes
- Institutions most likely to close as a result of the pandemic and providing support
- The pandemic's effect on climate-related activities, global emissions, energy usage, and wildlife
- Disruptions caused by confinement measures on the economy e.g. analysing data on supply chains, trade, impacts on inclusive growth
United States of America
Consider allowing staff to permanently work where they are most productive
COVID-19 has made companies have a major re-think about how and where their staff work. Germany's Siemens as decided to let its employees work from wherever they want for two or three days a week, where they feel most productive. These changes are based on outcome focused work, rather than time spent in an office.
Consider how to manage Legionella in building water systems after the COVID-19 outbreak
Energy including utilities
Legionella is a type of bacteria that can become a health concern when found in man-made water systems. While buildings remain closed due to the pandemic, it is important that water systems are well maintained to prevent future health issues like Legionella. If breathed in through droplets in the air, the bacteria can cause Legionnaires' disease, a respiratory illness with some similar symptoms to COVID-19 e.g. a fever, cough, shortness of breath. The European Working Group for Legionella Infections (ESGLI) has put together a guidance document on how to best manage Legionella in building water systems during this COVID-19 outbreak. Consider ESGLI guidance to manage the safety of buildings' water systems:
Consider having spare capacity in your organisation to cope with concurrent emergencies
Spare capacity is expensive when it is not being used so, in many cases, systems are lean and focus on maximising their utilisation, ongoing value for money, efficiency and return on initial investment. However, this reduces ability to rapidly access capacity and to react quickly in emergency situations. During the early stages of COVID-19 in different countries we witnessed the attempt to delay the impact of the virus so that the system could create needed capacity in areas of healthcare. This time was used to create spare capacity by freeing up beds, sourcing equipment and supplies expected to be needed, preparing staff, identifying processes to pause or reduce to redeploy resources to more critical activities, retrain staff in other critical activities. As countries analyse the potential of future waves of the pandemic, consider:
- What important services are/have been stretched to (or exceed) maximum capacity during the response e.g. healthcare (intensive care), schools (number of socially distanced pupils in classrooms)
- Where demand for important services could exceed available capacity during recovery and Renewal e.g. provision of mental health support, financial advice, unemployment services, retraining
- Where spare capacity should be built into the system so that an appropriate response can be rapidly provided to emergencies e.g. ongoing response to COVID-19, concurrent emergencies, future outbreaks of the virus
- How spare capacity can be created, protected, and prioritised for rapid use when needed
- The need for spare capacity on an ongoing basis after the crisis lessens
Reference: Interview with German Fire Department
United States of America
United States of America
Consider the reduction of staff/skills availability from the effects of COVID-19
During COVID-19 many training facilities that equip staff with specialist skills have been unable to work effectively so accreditation has not been possible. Furthermore, medical fitness for work certificates may have expired and not been renewed due to the pressures on the healthcare system. Across many sectors (e.g. emergency services, construction, healthcare), these effects could have consequences for the availability of staff who have the required skills/training and are permitted to work; a problem accentuated by the departure of skilled staff during the crisis. Consider:
- How your workforce's skills profile has changed as a result of the effects of COVID-19 e.g.:
- training centres stopping training new recruits, meaning there is a lack of new staff in the recruitment pipeline
- expiration of staff's specialist qualifications/registration, meaning they are not permitted/qualified to deliver usual activities
- granting of medical eligibility to work during the crisis, and impacts on staff ability to work
- staff being made unemployed or retiring during the crisis
- staff who have contracted COVID-19 and who are unable to return to normal duties
- Putting temporary waivers in place to enable workers to continue despite their skills expiring
- How staff whose qualifications have expired during COVID-19 can be re-accredited
- How to ensure staff are medically fit to work
- How to address and overcome the immediate impacts of a shortage of accredited staff
- How to mitigate the multi-year impacts on your sector from COVID-19's disruption to skills, training and staff loss
Reference: Fire Department, Germany
United States of America
Consider multi-level climate governance and the impacts of local climate leadership during COVID-19
Effective local climate leadership is central in tackling local climate disasters such as floods, forest fires and extreme heatwaves. Local governments are adept at initiating infrastructure investments, policies, and programs that strengthen resilience against future climate stresses and shocks. Consider how to locally navigate climate-action priorities through the COVID-19 crisis to:
- Boost climate-action momentum to mitigate risks and costs of delayed action e.g. combined impacts of COVID-19 and climate change on vulnerable people, economic disruption, public health (clean air, sufficient safe food and water)
- Prepare for impacts of climate change and COVID-19. Address threat multipliers such as pollution or natural disasters through local reduction of carbon emissions, retrofitting buildings, defences, and ring-fenced funding
- Build on residents' and businesses' behaviour changes during the pandemic that reduce emissions and enhance resiliency e.g. working from home, careful used of medical resources
- Maximize local benefits of an economic recovery that is climate friendly e.g. focus on the circular economy, use of renewable energies
United States of America
Consider how to effectively implement local or 'smart lockdowns'
Recently, European Union countries have begun enforced lockdowns in smaller regions in response to new outbreaks of COVID-19, rather than bringing the entire country to a halt. 'Smart lockdowns' have been undertaken in Germany, Portugal, Italy, and the UK where local governments have declared local lockdown where cases of COVID-19 could not be contained.
Special consideration should be given to the identified causes of spikes in transmission. Localised COVID-19 outbreaks in Europe and the USA share a number of similarities. In most cases, overcrowded living conditions, poor working conditions, cultural practices, and/or limited socio-economic capital point to increased risk of infection and transmission. In Warendorf (Germany) and Cleckheaton (England), outbreaks were attributed to abattoirs and meat factories , which often employ migrant workers in poor working conditions on low-paid contracts. While the outbreak in Cleckheaton does not seem to have spread into the community, the fallout from the abattoir in Germany resulted in the lockdown of the city of Warendorf. Similar patterns are being witnessed in the USA, where workers from meat processing plants in Georgia, Arkansas and Mississippi, who are predominantly migrant workers or people of colour, have died from the virus or have become infected.
Conversely, in Marche (Italy) and Lisbon (Portugal) outbreaks originated in migrant communities that were living in overcrowded quarters or experiencing unsafe working conditions. Similarly, this week in Leicester (England), a local lockdown has been enforced. Possible reasons for the spike in cases shares stark similarities to the local lockdowns that have gone on elsewhere.
Reportedly, in Leicester some garment factories continued to operate throughout the crisis and forced their workers to work despite high levels of infection. Wage exploitation of the largely immigrant workforce, failure to protect workers' rights in Leicester's garment factories (a subject of concern for years), and poor communication of lockdown rules with Leicester's large ethnic minority community have all contributed to a resurgence in the disease.
Secondly, the East of the city, suspected to be the epicenter of the outbreak, has extreme levels of poverty, is densely packed with terraced housing, and has a high proportion of ethnic minority families where multi-generational living is common.
These patterns barely differ from the spike in cases in Singapore in May 2020 in which Singapore's progress on tackling COVID-19 was halted as tens of thousands of migrant workers contracted the disease due to poor living conditions and being neglected by testing schemes as their migrant status and relative poverty meant they were overlooked by the government.
Implementing smart lockdowns requires:
- Outbreak control plans for the COVID-19 partnership to be developed, written, and communicated to wider partners, specifying their role in the outbreak response
- Collaborate closely across the public sector to understand possible at-risk communities e.g. minority groups, migrant workers, those in poor or insecure housing, those in particular occupations
- Identify new cases early through rapid testing and contact tracing and sharing timely data across agencies
- Decide the threshold at which a cluster of new cases become an outbreak
- Decide the threshold at which an outbreak triggers the lockdown of an area, and how the size of that area is determined
- Collaborate closely with the public sector to communicate and enforce local lockdowns e.g. the police, the health and social sector, local leaders
- Ensure there is capacity in local-health care systems to respond to the outbreak
- Collaborate with citizens to ensure good behavioural practices are understood and adhered to e.g. hand washing, social distancing at work and in public areas
- Ensure the parameters of the local lockdown are clear. For example, in a UK "local authority boundaries can run down the middle of a street" which makes it different to differentiate what is appropriate for a city or region, and to understand how a local community identifies with the place and boundaries in which they live
Local outbreaks, whether in migrant worker accommodation, meat factories or impoverished areas of a city, clearly underscore the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minority, migrant, and poor communities. Increased engagement with, and attention to ethnic minority groups, marginalised people and impoverished communities is key to staving off local and national resurgences of COVID-19. Strong multi-organisational partnerships are required to account for varying needs and concerns with certain communities including addressing their living and working conditions and the risks this poses to public health.
To read this case study in its original format (including source links and references, follow the source link below.
Consider how long-term environmental impacts can be realised
This may include:
- Reimagining how cities are built and organised e.g. Brussels is creating 40km of new cycle paths; France is providing cyclists with subsidies; UK has announced a œ2bn infrastructure scheme to encourage more walking and cycling
- Accelerating environmentally friendly projects such as increased investment in electric vehicle infrastructure
Also consider the unintended consequences of green infrastructure solutions. In the case of battery production for electric vehicles, consideration should be given to the environmental degradation caused by mining for battery components for electric vehicles, the ethical considerations of using mines in developing countries, the lifecycle of batteries and how they will be recycled in large quantities.
Consider measures to ensure the safe return of pupils to school
The impact of school closures, especially nursery and primary schools, carries high social and economic costs as learning is interrupted, parents are unprepared for home schooling and for the impacts this has on childcare. Working parents may have no choice but to leave children alone when they have to work, or to miss work to take care of their children. This can impact child nutrition, social isolation and increase children's exposure to violence and exploitation. Schools in Denmark, China, Korea and Taiwan, have begun to open. In Korea, the government has incorporated the concept of digital classrooms into current educational legislation to develop a 'future-orientated' approach to online education.
A number of measures for adjusting the school day have been identified:
- Consider staggering the school day so children arrive in different time blocks. In Demark the start and end of the school day is split into three 15-minute windows, and the day finishes at 2pm to reduce risk of new rules feeling oppressive. This helps reduce crowding at the school gates
- Parents are not allowed inside the building and must collect their children at outside while observing social distancing rules- consider marking lines, and creating one-way systems for parents to collect children in playgrounds
- Consider rotating year groups into schools for a week at a time
- Consider changes to lesson delivery e.g. restrict movement of teachers one teacher per class. Consider how this may impact which classes teachers will need to deliver and how this can be effectively timetabled. Also consider making class sizes smaller by splitting classes in two and have taught rotas between staff
- Limit handling of children's books through increased self-marking activities
- Provide allocated desks to each child with social distancing requirements in place. Be pragmatic and realistic about how to ensure social distancing when children are not at their desks, e.g. how they will traverse corridors or stairways, how to manage behaviour at break times
- Consider reducing creative activities such as art, and 'carpet time' for primary school children. Or requesting personal supplies i.e. scissors or paintbrushes are brought in. Consider how creative classes can be taken outdoors to make learning fun, and safer
- Stagger lunch breaks and class times to avoid the risk of too many people moving through the school at one time
Alongside restructuring the school day, re-opening of schools requires attention to infrastructure. This may include:
- Installing additional handwashing facilities so children have to wash hands before entering school and then throughout the day - in Denmark children wash their hands six to eight times a day
- Measure temperatures before students are allowed on site. In China some schools have installed a system at the entrance of the school to record temperatures. Any person displaying a temperature above 37.3 degrees is taken for further temperature checks
- Installing hand sanitisation stations and bins for discarded masks in and around the school site. China also has isolation areas should anyone be taken ill during the course of the day
- Utilising additional buildings such as church halls or community centres if the school does not have the required space to maintain social distancing and its cohort of students
- Accounting for reduced workforce availability due to illness, and PPE requirements
There is an urgency to return pupils to schools to support their health and well-being and to relieve pressures on working families who may be experiencing increased financial hardship as a result of having children at home. It is important that robust scientific evidence is used to make such decisions; a study from Germany found children were as likely to spread coronavirus as adults which suggests caution is required. However, lessons from Denmark, China and Taiwan could provide useful insights into practical adaptation and innovation to support a safe return to school.
To read this case study in its original format with references etc., follow the source link to TMB Issue 7 p.16-17.
Consider establishing and publicising a consistent set of priorities which unify all response teams
And ensure the consistency of all planning. For example:
Consider a national emergency plan with uniform standards for the gradual return to normality that:
- Supports hospital systems and expand surge and testing capacity
- Protects vulnerable populations, including seniors and those with access and functional needs
- Supports homeless population and shelters through emergency protective measures
- Ensures continuity of first responders and healthcare workforce
- Provides state and federal economic impact assistance, including financial support for those economical areas that may only be allowed to resume operations at the last moment
- Executes task force objectives and continue mid and long-term advance planning
Reference: Civil Protection experts in Germany and the USA.
Consider not using tents as temporary hospital ward solutions
As tents do not provide long-term solution to surges in patients and are no suitable for longer periods of disease in winter. Instead develop "shadow" or auxiliary hospital wards as a spatial reserve for disasters and pandemics. Auxiliary wards would build resilience into the healthcare system for pandemics.
Reference: Expert in Civil Contingency, Germany
Consider reviewing just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing models
Additionally, carefully consider inventory levels at every step in the supply chain. Modern supply chain and preferred supplier practices have struggled to ensure reliable and durable supply of masks and ventilators at the scale needed in this pandemic. When a (global) pandemic strikes this can remove the supplier and therefore the products from the market. Develop supply chain resilience through the use of several strategic suppliers rather than seeking exclusive supply from single manufacturers at low price points.
Reference: UK county Council, NHS Emergency Planner and an expert in Civil Contingency, Germany
Consider a 24/7 information line on Coronavirus
To include a live-ticker on a website counting infections.
Consider encouraging the use of digital technologies
Local government should encourage the use of digital technologies during restricted movements to support culturally appropriate information tools. This should consider how apps can be used in different languages suitable to the diversity of user.
Reference: CEO Digital Corporation, Germany
Consider how the rise of online working can revitalise the local economy
Local government should think strategically about how the rise in online working can revitalise the local economy and consider what services can be restarted in a more digital manner. For example, helping smaller businesses to boost their online presence or development of apps to support delivery of their products or provision of their services. This can help maintain an efficient workforce, boost the economy, and support customers and digitally connect the entire supply chain.
Reference: CEO Digital Corporation, Germany