MobilitySafe: navigating cities in times of pandemic and conflict


A PSRP researcher has been awarded a new grant under the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account scheme to develop a map-based tool to help individuals navigate cities in times of pandemic and conflict.

Dr Devanjan Bhattacharya, Train@ed Research Fellow at Edinburgh Law School, will lead the ESRC IAA project, ‘Increasing safety and sustainability of micro-mobility modes in pandemic – MobilitySafe.’

In times of pandemic and conflict public transport and vehicle sharing services are frequently halted or avoided, and many people turn to cycling or walking for small distances. By partnering and working with urban development companies and agencies, such as GIZ India and Deloitte India, alongside local authorities, MobilitySafe aims to provide an open app and web-based utility to help users determine safe walking and cycling routes that avoid transmission spots or conflict zones.

“MobilitySafe aims to deliver safe micro-mobility transit routing for pedestrians and cyclists in pandemics and other civil disturbances in urban settings,” said Dr Bhattacharya.

“Presently we are working with COVID-19 spread data developing algorithms that pick routes avoiding the spread. We have seen solutions aimed at vehicle transit systems, but a complete study for enhancing micro-mobility parameters and their interactions in a pandemic has not been undertaken successfully yet. We are looking forward to delivering such a solution that would encourage micro-mobility and recommend parameters that could lead to larger adoption of micro-mobility transits in cities. Once the application is adapted for the current pandemic data, the same could be adopted with other critical civic situations in future.”

MobilitySafe is the most recent addition to PSRP’s portfolio of PeaceTech work, which sees peace builders teaming up with data scientists to develop cutting-edge technology for inclusive peace. PSRP’s PeaceTech projects include the Covid-19 Ceasefires Tracker, a publicly available digital tracking tool that monitors the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak on peace processes and armed conflict across the world. To learn more, listen to PSRP’s War, Peace, and the in Between podcast, Episode 1: PeaceTech: Digital Tools for Building Inclusive Peace, which features Dr Bhattacharya speaking about the Ceasefires Tracker and the PeaceFem mobile app on women and mediation in peace processes.

Devanjan is funded by MSCA TRAIN@ED Horizon 2020 Grant number 801215, and the project MobilitySafe is funded by Impact Acceleration Grant from the ESRC Impact Acceleration Grant awarded to the University of Edinburgh (grant reference ES/T50189X/1”).