Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Data, community and reconfiguring the post-pandemic city

Project topic description

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many questions being asked about the changing nature of cities in both the global north and south, linked to decentralisation and reduced density that, if implemented, will impact their future shape and functioning as well as their resilience to respond effectively to further shock and stresses. In particular, discussions about the changing design of cities e.g. 15/20minute city, have called for enhanced pedestrianisation, less cars, more green spaces, and a refocusing on the neighbourhood scale. More fundamentally, and in-line with SDG 11 - to ‘Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ - the ongoing global pandemic has forced a range of policy makers and built environment professionals to consider how ideas of sustainability and resilience link to public health as they rethink conventional urban planning and design approaches. At an abstract level this means considering whether cities return to normal, or work towards a new normality. In more practical terms, it means adopting principles of resilience as a key element of recovery and future planning in attempts to build back better: to more effectively understand risks from formal and informal data sources, to consider interdependences in human-environment interactions across different urban systems, and to address inherent inequalities through active local community engagement and dialogue.

Working within established research partnerships in IGSD and UN Habitat, this study will be on comparative research in selected cities in both the global north and south, and will seek to unpack questions about the emerging discourses and digital geographies that are framing the future post-pandemic city, which stakeholders and community groups are engaged in such discussions, and how citizen-centric risk and vulnerability analysis, and risk management more broadly, are incorporated into future city plans. The successful applicants’ interests, experience and expertise will also shape the final study design.

Applicant profile

Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree and ideally a Master’s degree (or equivalent professional experience) in city planning and design, urban/human/digital geography and disaster studies, or a cognate field. Applicants should show evidence of experience or aptitude to work across a number of disciplines and in a range of qualitative and qualitative methods (e.g. geospatial data analysis).

Supervisory team
Professor Jon Coaffee, Department of Politics and International Studies

Jon Coaffee is Professor in Urban Geography based in PAIS. His interdisciplinary research focuses upon the interplay of physical and socio-political aspects of urban resilience and he has also published widely, especially on the impact of terrorism and other security concerns on the functioning of urban areas. During this research he has worked closely with a range of public, private and Third sector stakeholders to ensure his research is co-produced and has real world impact. Jon's work has been published in multiple disciplinary areas such as political science, geography, town planning, sociology and civil engineering.


Professor João Porto de Albuquerque, Institute for Global Sustainable Development

João Porto de Albuquerque is Professor and Director of the Institute for Global Sustainable Development and the Academic Director of TRANSFORM. He is a geographer and computer scientist with an interdisciplinary background. His research adopts a transdisciplinary approach to digital geographies, intersecting geographic information science, urban data science, information management and development studies. This approach is underpinned by the investigation of new methods that bridge critical and geo-computational perspectives to include marginalised voices in the generation, circulation and usage of data, with the goal of enabling transformations to urban sustainability and climate resilience. His transdisciplinary research on socio-ecological-technical urban systems not only emphasises cross-border collaboration between the (environmental) sciences, social sciences and humanities; it also goes beyond academic disciplines to engage in co-production of research with non-academic societal/indigenous stakeholders.


External mentorship
Dr Robert Ndugwa, Head, Global Urban Observatory Unit, UN-Habitat, Nairobi, Kenya.

Robert P. Ndugwa is currently the Officer in charge of the Global Urban Observatory Unit in the Research and Capacity Development Branch at the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) in Nairobi, Kenya. He is primarily responsible for the UN-Habitat 's global urban monitoring and reporting on SDGs and also doubles as the chief statistician for UN-Habitat.