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Brazil joins UNDP program about COVID-19 impact on urban mobility

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A project developed by professors at the Alberto Luiz Coimbra Post-Graduate and Research Institute of Rio de Janeiro (Coppe/UFRJ) and the Federal Center of Technological Education of Minas Gerais (Cefet-MG) was selected by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to take part in a program dubbed Exploring the Impact of COVID-19 and the Political Response in Latin America and the Caribbean through Mobility Data.

Since COVID-19 reached Brazil, the Coppe/UFRJ program has been willing to help the government of Rio de Janeiro in its efforts and has conducted studies on the link between the disease and mobility, said Program Coordinator Professor Romulo Orrico. A study was also carried out on the influence of urbanism and public transport on COVID-19 and the characteristics of US cities Los Angeles and New York, even though these locations have made similar decisions to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Orrico reported that, in a partnership with San Francisco–based company Grandata, UNDP obtained the data on the mobility of eight to ten countries in Latin America, with a tender offer for researchers willing to use the data to learn more about how to tackle the disease.

Urban mobility

The initiative by Coppe and Cefet-MG, dubbed Measuring the Efficiency of the COVID-19 Social Isolation Policy through Transport Demand Models, coordinated by Professor Romulo Orrico, will use not only data on mobility to be available on a platform created by UNDP and Grandata, but also georeferenced data available in Brazil. The platform aims to facilitate the assessment of people’s movements out of their homes during the pandemic of the novel coronavirus. “We have to really understand the data,” Orrico declared.

The platform includes a tool that gauges how much users have moved around in a day compared to the day before or after, allowing specialists to ascertain to what degree people have adhered to social isolation in a given location—a city, municipality, or country—press advisers with Coppe-UFRJ reported.

Approximately ten institutions are taking part in the UNDP program, one in each country, the professor said. The mission faces a number of challenges, he added, since Brazil has over 5 thousand municipalities, with a high variety of behavior prompted by the pandemic. Deadlines for a preliminary version of the study have been set for November, and institutions must present a final report on results by mid-December.

UNDP’s goal, Professor Orrico explained, is to better understand the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic on countries, helping decision makers plan out a political response in the region encompassing Latin America and the Caribbean.

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