Get Ready for the Great Urban Comeback

New York did not react to the blizzard of 1888 by stockpiling snow shovels. It created an entire infrastructure of subterranean power and transit.

The response to COVID-19 could be similarly far-reaching. The greatest lesson of the outbreak may be that modern cities are inadequately designed to keep us safe, not only from coronaviruses, but from other forms of infectious disease and from environmental conditions, such as pollution (which contributes to illness) and overcrowding (which contributes to the spread of illness). What if we designed a city with a greater awareness of all threats to our health?

The responses could start with a guarantee of universal health care, whatever the specific mechanism. COVID-19 has shown that our survival is inextricably connected to the health of strangers.

When it comes to infectious diseases, a risk to anyone is a risk to everyone.

Copyright Cornell Tech — 2020.