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COVID-19 and Urban Inequalities: Spatial and Digital Dimensions

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2023) | Viewed by 16140

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, M1 5GD, UK
Interests: sustainable healthy city; urban analytics; urbanization in China

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Guest Editor
Crime and Well-being Big Data Centre, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK
Interests: criminology; urban studies; unban inequality

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The COVID-19 pandemic has manifested substantial health inequalities. The interdependencies between socio-economic activities, spatial mobility, environmental and information exposure, and perceptions of health risks have informed inequalities between social groups and across spatial scales. Inequalities have emerged at different stages of the pandemic, from lockdown to  the early steps towards recovery, and are likely to extend in to the future as and when vaccines become available. Combating COVID-19 related health inequalities demands comprehensive understanding of these various dimensions and their drivers. It demands a systematic approach to resilient policy making, one capable of taking account of the complex and heterogeneous, spatial and temporal, dimensions of social processes. It will demand varying hard and soft interventions. Digital technologies and governance practices will play a central role in these strategies.

This Special Issue is particularly focused on examining the spatial (temporal) and digital dimensions of COVID-19-related health inequalities across diverse contexts. Its ambition is to provide evidence-based insights into how equitable urban health outcomes can be generated and sustained through resilient policy making, and of the central role that digital technologies and governance practices can play in these  outcomes. This Special Issue complements urban sustainability studies by considering the interactions between existing urban inequalities and COVID-19 related health inequalities. The papers in this Special Issue can be theoretical, methodological, technical, experimental and/or empirical. They can rely on qualitative, quantitative or big data, and be informed by diverse methodologies including AI and mixed methods. International comparisons of diverse contexts and multi-disciplinary studies are particularly encouraged. This Special Issue welcomes the following topics, but is not limited to:

  • Spatial and temporal inequality in COVID-19 diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation
  • Spatial and temporal patterns of environmental exposure to COVID-19 virus in the context of mobility restrictions
  • The spatial, socio-economic and behaviour determinants of the heterogeneous risks of exposure to COVID-19 virus
  • Inequality of impacts of digital infrastructure on monitoring, tracking, and supporting the COVID-19 control measures
  • Inequality of impacts of governance practice on COVID-19 health risks, prevention and intervention
  • Innovative methods of collecting data, analysing patterns, and modelling dynamics related to COVID-19 health inequalities

Dr. Jianquan Cheng
Prof. Jon Bannister
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • health inequality
  • COVID-19
  • lockdown
  • exposure
  • digital
  • mobility
  • spatial pattern
  • temporal dynamics
  • heterogeneity
  • dynamics
  • governance
  • health risks
  • health intervention
  • multi-scale

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

18 pages, 2747 KiB  
Article
Tracking the Transit Divide: A Multilevel Modelling Approach of Urban Inequalities and Train Ridership Disparities in Chicago
by Danial Owen, Daniel Arribas-Bel and Francisco Rowe
Sustainability 2023, 15(11), 8821; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15118821 - 30 May 2023
Viewed by 1412
Abstract
Using a multilevel modelling approach, this study investigates the impact of urban inequalities on changes to rail ridership across Chicago’s “L” stations during the pandemic, the mass vaccination rollout, and the full reopening of the city. Initially believed to have an equal impact, [...] Read more.
Using a multilevel modelling approach, this study investigates the impact of urban inequalities on changes to rail ridership across Chicago’s “L” stations during the pandemic, the mass vaccination rollout, and the full reopening of the city. Initially believed to have an equal impact, COVID-19 disproportionally impacted the ability of lower socioeconomic status (SES) neighbourhoods’ to adhere to non-pharmaceutical interventions: working-from-home and social distancing. We find that “L” stations in predominately Black or African American and Hispanic or Latino neighbourhoods with high industrial land-use recorded the smallest behavioural change. The maintenance of higher public transport use at these stations is likely to have exacerbated existing health inequalities, worsening disparities in users’ risk of exposure, infection rates, and mortality rates. This study also finds that the vaccination rollout and city reopening did not significantly increase the number of users at stations in higher vaccinated, higher private vehicle ownership neighbourhoods, even after a year into the pandemic. A better understanding of the spatial and socioeconomic determinants of changes in ridership behaviour is crucial for policymakers in adjusting service routes and frequencies that will sustain reliant neighbourhoods’ access to essential services, and to encourage trips at stations which are the most impacted to revert the trend of declining public transport use. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 and Urban Inequalities: Spatial and Digital Dimensions)
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27 pages, 9624 KiB  
Article
Impact of COVID-19 on the Territory and Demographic Processes: A View from Spanish Rural and Urban Areas
by J. Javier Serrano and Félix Fajardo
Sustainability 2023, 15(10), 7899; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15107899 - 11 May 2023
Viewed by 1461
Abstract
The current physiognomy and problems of rural and urban territories in Spain are directly related to the demographic processes linked to the rural exodus of the 1960s. In the year 2020, a new problem and/or conditioning factor arose, COVID-19, which has modified dynamics, [...] Read more.
The current physiognomy and problems of rural and urban territories in Spain are directly related to the demographic processes linked to the rural exodus of the 1960s. In the year 2020, a new problem and/or conditioning factor arose, COVID-19, which has modified dynamics, routines, and aspects of the daily life of the population. The objectives of this research are to check whether there are differences in the effect of COVID-19 between urban and rural municipalities and, in turn, to analyse the demographic dynamics of the population between 2020 and 2022, as well as territorial distribution patterns. To this end, population data were extracted from the Population Register and Residential Variation data for the period 2010 and 2022 and demographic and statistical calculations (Student’s t-test and Pearson’s correlation) were carried out. Among the main results, it is observed that COVID-19 has less of an effect in Spanish rural areas. Moreover, these areas show a positive demographic trend for the period 2020–2022. Population growth has had a direct influence on the improvement of demographic data, although with differences according to autonomous communities. This fact represents a break in the trend in rural areas, but is beginning to show signs of exhaustion and a return to the pre-pandemic trend. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 and Urban Inequalities: Spatial and Digital Dimensions)
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22 pages, 1842 KiB  
Article
Resilience of Smart Cities to the Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Context of Sustainable Development
by Aleksandra Kuzior, Dariusz Krawczyk, Paulina Brożek, Olena Pakhnenko, Tetyana Vasylieva and Serhiy Lyeonov
Sustainability 2022, 14(19), 12645; https://doi.org/10.3390/su141912645 - 5 Oct 2022
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 2215
Abstract
The development of digital technologies is one of the factors influencing the cities’ readiness for the COVID-19 breakout. The purpose of this article is to assess cities’ resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic depending on the “smart” level criteria. The article uses the following [...] Read more.
The development of digital technologies is one of the factors influencing the cities’ readiness for the COVID-19 breakout. The purpose of this article is to assess cities’ resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic depending on the “smart” level criteria. The article uses the following research methods: (1) bibliometric analysis to identify the main directions of scientific research regarding “COVID-19” and “smart city” in Scopus publications for 2019–2022; (2) k-means clustering method to identify common patterns among smart cities regarding their readiness and responsiveness to COVID-19; (3) correlation analysis to identify the relationships between smart city performance indicators and COVID-19 severity in these cities. The Smart City Index 2021 was a key criterion for classifying a city as smart for this study. The correlation analysis included two stages: (1) correlation analysis of the Smart City Rank and indicators of COVID-19 readiness and responsiveness; (2) correlation analysis of the Smart City Rank and its health care components and COVID-19 severity indicators. According to the study results, smart cities demonstrated higher COVID-19 readiness and lower COVID-19 fatality rates. However, they lag behind in terms of resilience and sustainability of their health care systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 and Urban Inequalities: Spatial and Digital Dimensions)
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15 pages, 7212 KiB  
Article
Spatiotemporal Surveillance of COVID-19 Based on Epidemiological Features: Evidence from Northeast Iran
by Mohammad Tabasi, Ali Asghar Alesheikh, Elnaz Babaie and Javad Hatamiafkoueieh
Sustainability 2022, 14(19), 12189; https://doi.org/10.3390/su141912189 - 26 Sep 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1161
Abstract
Spatiotemporal analysis of COVID-19 cases based on epidemiological characteristics leads to more refined findings about health inequalities and better allocation of medical resources in a spatially and timely fashion. While existing literature has explored the spatiotemporal clusters of COVID-19 worldwide, little attention has [...] Read more.
Spatiotemporal analysis of COVID-19 cases based on epidemiological characteristics leads to more refined findings about health inequalities and better allocation of medical resources in a spatially and timely fashion. While existing literature has explored the spatiotemporal clusters of COVID-19 worldwide, little attention has been paid to investigate the space-time clusters based on epidemiological features. This study aims to identify COVID-19 clusters by epidemiological factors in Golestan province, one of the highly affected areas in Iran. This cross-sectional study used GIS techniques, including local spatial autocorrelations, directional distribution statistics, and retrospective space-time Poisson scan statistics. The results demonstrated that Golestan has been facing an upward trend of epidemic waves, so the case fatality rate (CFR) of the province was roughly 2.5 times the CFR in Iran. Areas with a more proportion of young adults were more likely to generate space-time clusters. Most high-risk clusters have emerged since early June 2020. The infection first appeared in the west and southwest of the province and gradually spread to the center, east, and northeast regions. The results also indicated that the detected clusters based on epidemiological features varied across the province. This study provides an opportunity for health decision-makers to prioritize disease-prone areas and more vulnerable populations when allocating medical resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 and Urban Inequalities: Spatial and Digital Dimensions)
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22 pages, 8609 KiB  
Article
COVID-19: Evaluation of Fever Clinic and Fever Sentinel Configuration—A Case Study of Harbin, China
by Daming Xu, Qian Wu, Yingkun Feng and Songtao Wu
Sustainability 2022, 14(15), 9117; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14159117 - 25 Jul 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1668
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed the inequalities in health services in countries around the world under severe pressure. As crucial pillars in the prevention and control of COVID-19, fever clinics and fever sentinels are important sites for the screening, diagnosis, and isolation of [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed the inequalities in health services in countries around the world under severe pressure. As crucial pillars in the prevention and control of COVID-19, fever clinics and fever sentinels are important sites for the screening, diagnosis, and isolation of patients. This study comprehensively evaluated the spatial-layout characteristics, configuration quantity, and service capacity of 42 fever clinics and 418 fever sentinels in Harbin from the perspective of supply by using GIS spatial-analysis methods such as kernel density analysis. From the perspective of demand, we evaluated the accessibility of fever clinics with the modified two-step floating catchment area (2SFCA) method; the OD cost matrix method and Voronoi diagram method were used to evaluate the accessibility and service pressure of fever sentinels. This study found that a monocentric clustering characterizes the spatial layout of fever clinics, and the design of fever clinics in new urban areas and marginal rural areas is relatively lacking. The spatial layout of fever sentinels includes blank areas, and the service pressure in the central city area is relatively high. Combined with the assessment results, the study discussed optimization strategies and implementation paths for improving the public health and epidemic prevention system for COVID-19 in terms of four aspects: the transformation of governance practice, the spatial-planning response, the digital infrastructure response, and guarantees of policies and regulations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 and Urban Inequalities: Spatial and Digital Dimensions)
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17 pages, 2129 KiB  
Article
Food Environment Inequalities and Moderating Effects of Obesity on Their Relationships with COVID-19 in Chicago
by Hao Huang
Sustainability 2022, 14(11), 6498; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14116498 - 26 May 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2124
Abstract
The COVID-19 outbreak has raised challenges for people with health problems. Obesity is a global issue related to COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) finds that obesity worsens COVID-19 outcomes. As body mass index increases, the COVID-19 death risk increases. Additionally, due [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 outbreak has raised challenges for people with health problems. Obesity is a global issue related to COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) finds that obesity worsens COVID-19 outcomes. As body mass index increases, the COVID-19 death risk increases. Additionally, due to different restriction policies, the pandemic has transformed our food environment. Thus, it is important to develop an antivirus-enabled paradigm to decrease the COVID-19 spreading rate in neighborhoods with obesity concerns and design a sustainable and healthy food environment. It is found that both COVID-19 and obesity inequalities are associated with food environment inequalities, but few studies have examined the moderating effects of obesity and food environment on COVID-19. According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, more than 30% of the Chicago adult population is obese. Additionally, Chicago has 340,676 COVID-19 cases during the period between 1 March 2020 and 26 November 2021. This study uses regression models to examine the moderating effects of obesity and food environment on COVID-19 in Chicago. Besides food environment factors, green spaces and transportation access are considered. The results show COVID-19 is concentrated in areas with a high obesity rate and low food access. A 1 percent increase in obesity rate is associated with a 2.83 percent increase in COVID-19 death rate in a community. Additionally, the moderating effects of obesity on the association between food environment and COVID-19 are shown in the results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 and Urban Inequalities: Spatial and Digital Dimensions)
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21 pages, 11168 KiB  
Article
Enclave-Reinforced Inequality during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence from University Campus Lockdowns in Wuhan, China
by Cheng Sun, Yaxuan Xiong, Zhiqin Wu and Jie Li
Sustainability 2021, 13(23), 13100; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132313100 - 26 Nov 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2641
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted urban life and created spatial and social inequalities in cities. The impacts of lifting full lockdown restrictions once fast-spreading and community-acquired infection waves were under control are still not fully understood. This study aims to explore spatial inequality [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted urban life and created spatial and social inequalities in cities. The impacts of lifting full lockdown restrictions once fast-spreading and community-acquired infection waves were under control are still not fully understood. This study aims to explore spatial inequality reinforced in the intervals between the waves of infection during the COVID-19 pandemic. Enclave-reinforced inequality resulting from enclave-based lockdown policies in Chinese cities was investigated through an analysis of the impacts of university campus enclave closures on the accessibility and crowdedness of urban green spaces. Using a modified two-step floating catchment area (2SFCA) and inversed 2SFCA (i2SFCA) method, accessibility and crowdedness were calculated and compared under two different scenarios. Additionally, the Lorenz curve, Gini coefficient, and Theil index were used to measure and compare intra-city global and local inequalities under each scenario. The results indicate that the lockdown of university campus enclaves decreased the supply of urban green spaces. Campus closures not only exacerbated the unequal distribution of urban green space, but also reduced the inequality of crowdedness in urban parks due to increased crowdedness in parks near the closed enclaves. Moreover, both accessibility and crowdedness worsened when the calculations were weighted for population size and the total supply of green space. Enclave-based lockdown in cities reinforced spatial inequality, and it is highly complex and has multidimensional impacts on urban inequalities and environmental injustice which should be considered by urban planners and decision-makers hoping to create healthy, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable cities in the “new normal” of the COVID-19 pandemic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 and Urban Inequalities: Spatial and Digital Dimensions)
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