Unlike prior crises where cities recovered out of necessity, the first global pandemic of the digital age changes things. With the advent of a post-modern digital economy enabled by telecommuting, teleconferencing, telelearning, and e-commerce, the pandemic has accelerated a digital transformation where cities no longer need to be physical places to foster innovation and economic activity. This MTI perspective explores the potential risks of a K-shaped where suburban communities recover and urban centers do not. Demographics, home sales, housing affordability, telework, and e-commerce may be important indicators to watch to understand what the “new normal” may look like and to guide the post-pandemic recovery. Policies may be needed to discourage outward growth and to support urban revitalization in a new world where an increasing percentage of the workforce telecommutes.
Adam Cohen is a senior researcher with the Mineta Transportation Institute of San Jose State University and the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Berkeley. His research focuses on innovative mobility strategies, such as shared mobility, mobility on demand, mobility as a service, smart cities, and emerging technologies. Adam currently serves as vice chair of SAE International's Shared and Digital Mobility Committee and co-chair of the Transportation Research Board's Subcommittee on Equity of Innovative Mobility Services and Technologies AP020(3). He has co-authored numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings. Previously, Adam worked for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Information Technology and Telecommunications Laboratory (ITTL) at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). His academic background is in city and regional planning and international affairs.