Increased Urban Segregation during the COVID-19 Pandemic

made using OpenStreetMap


Urban socioeconomic segregation is an important indicator that is crucial for social, economic, and health outcomes. Segregation is inherently linked with (bonding & bridging) social capital, which is essential for community resilience to various external shocks. Equitable access to housing, community facilities, health services, and clean environment are often exacerbated by segregation, and therefore is an important metric for public investment policies.

Using human mobility data collected from mobile phones before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in Boston, we are studying how various non-pharmaceutical interventions (e.g., lockdowns) affected how we interact with each other in urban environments. 

So far, we have found that socioeconomic segregation have substantially increased during the pandemic, even after the ease of the lockdowns, due to not only because people traveled less, but also because people's explorative behavior - both socially and spatially - has decreased compared to pre-pandemic levels. 

We further focus on segregation levels in public parks, which are essential public infrastructure designed for equitable, inclusive and safe environments for the citizens. In most parks, segregation levels have increased due to the pandemic, especially in the Boston metropolitan areas (see Figure). Understanding the governing factors that contribute to the increased segregation in public spaces could be used as input for investment policies aimed to improve the provision of equitable services for the citizens.  

Research Topics
#social networks #data