Epidemiological Infrastructure: a case study of Melaka, Malaysia, on how the effects of COVID-19 are changing the infrastructure in urban planning
The global lockdowns to control COVID-19 has very significant immediate and long-term impacts to the future of cities. The disruption to society will forever change the way we work, live and interact. It will essentially shape the ‘new normal’ for our cities. Changing the way cities plan and develop to include the analysis of the distribution, patterns and determinants of health and disease conditions in our infrastructure has become significantly important in the past months as our way of life has been forever changed by the pandemic.
In Melaka, Malaysia, the Global Future Cities team is working to improve the mobility system by increasing connectivity to and from the city’s UNESCO Heritage Area via two interventions: The development of a Green Bus Network Implementation Plan and a Heritage Area Integrated Mobility Plan.
The Heritage Area Integrated Mobility Plan will link directly to the proposed Green Bus Network to ensure sustainable travel in the city’s central area that is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is intended that the mobility plan will help to alleviate the stresses caused by traffic congestion, unmet parking demand and the poor provision for alternative modes of transport. Alternative modes of transport to the private and motorised vehicles, with a focus on intelligent transport systems (ITS). Public water and non-motorised transport are all being considered and proposed as part of the intervention.
Considering the impacts of COVID-19 on the city of Melaka and the objectives of the intervention, Matthew Oakley, Global Future Cities Team Lead for Malaysia and his team are driving epidemiological considerations into the planning of the city. “The Covid-19 Pandemic has and will continue to have a huge social and economic impact on our communities, not least Melaka’s tourism industry. COVID-19 adds a new layer of uncertainty to a sector which was already undergoing rapid change. However, the timing of the Programme and its positive impacts for the post-COVID economic recovery are well aligned. Epidemiological planning to improve safe mobility to, from and within Melaka Heritage Area to target an increase in tourism revenues will now become an additional key objective. We need to ensure bus routes and capacity are aligned with the demand to prevent overcrowding and promote new social distancing norms post-COVID-19. It’s a real opportunity to champion change and best-practice and demonstrates that we can adapt and develop solutions that embrace uncertainty and deliver great outcomes.”
Uniquely placed to drive real change during these uncertain times, the Global Future Cities Team for South East Asia are now developing a resilient strategy that improves the socio-economic conditions of the Melaka city and also drives a post-COVID recovery that is aligned with the new epidemiological norms to ensure the future of the city is both resilient, inclusive and healthy.