Cities and communities continue to grapple with headlines and the necessary actions to take as the Coronavirus pandemic evolves further and information about viral spread continues sweeping the media. As a testament to how quickly this situation has risen, the virus has garnered a striking 60 million media mentions within the past month alone — compared to the 9 million regarding cancer and 3 million regarding sustainability in the past year*. Cities and companies are stepping up to meet the need for innovation in this time of crisis and social distancing, where we are collectively forced to find our new normal for living, working and healing. As a result, here are three areas where city innovation is making an impact:
1. Innovating for virtual work
Cities in the United States, where more than 82 percent of the population lives and works according to Statista, are making the quick transitions needed to meet this public health challenge, often by bringing classroom and office experiences online. Companies like Microsoft, Google, LogMeIn, Cisco and Zoom, are all providing free, needed technology to partner with cities as they work to contain the virus and mandate that all classes be taught virtually.
2. Innovating for continued care
Particularly during this pandemic, the health of a city relies heavily on maintaining essential services for residents. For more than one million students in New York City public schools, who are accustomed to or rely on receiving free lunch during the week, online learning doesn’t solve for their nutritional needs. Understanding this, New York has quickly established a way in which schools can stay open for lunch pick-up for all who need it. Additionally, with restaurants shutting down, each will be able to continue delivering food, and apps like Seamless are helping to facilitate this while also supporting independent restaurants by waiving the app’s fee for business users.
3. Innovating products & services
Atlanta and other cities are continuing to adapt their services as well, especially as it relates to sanitation. Through continuous cleanings of highly shared spaces (i.e. public transportation, handrails, restrooms) and strategic placement of hand sanitizer stations by janitorial teams, cities are adapting to contain the spread of the Coronavirus and the illness it causes, COVID-19. Complementary to this, the State of New York and companies like LVMH, have compensated for the scarcity of hand sanitizer by starting to develop their own, then distributing it to cities for free.
As we continue to grapple with how to protect and support members of our global community, we must continue to think through a lens of inclusivity — understanding the needs of those who are often the first to be affected by a crisis with both data and empathy. We see the positive impact of innovation for many city residents; however, there’s so much more to be done as this pandemic continues to develop.
*Porter Novelli Analytics