The enabling conditions of post-pandemic city government
Most visions of the post-COVID-19 city concentrate on opportunities and expectations of the urban future, rather than why cities across the world have managed this and previous pandemics so badly or how an alternative pandemic-proofed city might be achieved. Perhaps we are an inherently optimistic species, or more likely, issues of public administration, institutional reform and state systems are boring to most people and even to many urban scholars.
Yet, over the last year, widespread failure of effective government preparation and response to a predicted outbreak of disease is a stark warning that, for even a very basic post-pandemic recovery, all cities (big and small, rich or poor, progressive or conservative, old or new) have to be governed better and governed with very different outcomes in mind. We will need to reset the parameters and expectations of urban government, refocusing on issues of bureaucracy, state craft, public administration, planning and urban public policy.