MOBI-HEALTH is a research project that focusses on the impacts of COVID-19 on mobility, digitalisation and health, and the possible inequalities between different areas and population segments. The main goal is to generate knowledge on epidemic resilience to support inclusive and sustainable urban planning. The project draws on a wide range of methods. It has distributed multiple waves of questionnaires (2020, 2021, 2022) is Oslo and Luxembourg, it established access to 2019-2022 mobile phone positioning data, and qualitative interviews with households and stakeholders. Stakeholder interviews (in greater Oslo and Bergen, 2021) and inhabitant interviews (in greater Oslo, 2020, 2022) have been also been conducted. Preliminary findings show that COVID-19 has had dramatic short term impacts on daily mobility. Some of those changes, such as increased cycling and walking, and the reduction of long distance travel, may have positive effects on the environment and on health. Other changes may possibly have negative effects, such as the avoidance and fear of public transport, or an increase in car use. A main question will be which of these short term changes in travel and digital practices will have lasting effects, and which ones will most probably return back to normal. Findings also point out that the pandemic has impacted perceived accessibility of residential environments and residential preferences. In addition, the project assesses how confinement and changes in mobility affect mental health and trust in society. We find that overall trends, such as the ones described above, hide strong differences between societal groups and geographic contexts. We found for instance that women are much harder hit by the pandemic than men, for example when it comes to perceptions of fear and stress in public transport. An important task for urban policy and planning will be to avoid that todays COVID-19 pandemic or potential future pandemics enhance inequalities in society.
Background: COVID19 presents our most serious health threat in over a century. The linkages of this health crisis to mobility are profound and complex. Extensive global mobility has facilitated a global spread of the virus more widely and rapidly than ever before. Yet, in the absence of effective and approved pharmaceutical intervention, unprecedented mobility restrictions have become our prevailing medicine to suppress COVID19 mortality and relieve healthcare demand all around the world. The rapidly changing landscape of epidemic, economic and societal conditions has revealed deep epidemic vulnerabilities in cities that intersect with health, mobility, digital and socioeconomic inequalities. MOBI-HEALTH produces transdisciplinary knowledge on the interdependencies, impacts and inequalities of mobility, digitalisation and health in face of COVID19, to support inclusive urban epidemic resilience. It will do so by drawing on quantitative and qualitative empirical investigations of pre, peri- and post-epidemic mobility, digital, health and policy/planning practices and perceptions (several already ongoing given the time-urgency of matters), and with an international comparative design across cases from the greater Oslo, Bergen, Luxembourg and Stockholm areas. The project analyses the effects of the built environment and socio-economic status on epidemic vulnerability in urban neighbourhoods, directly and via its effects on travel responses during confinement. It also addresses people's practices of (digital) mobility and experiences of fear, (dis)trust and wellbeing under confinement, as well as the mid- and long term impacts on sustainable mobility, residential choice and health. The project discusses how the produced knowledge can support the implementation of epidemic resilience in alongside other goals in planning processes towards inclusive and sustainable urban transformation.