Wednesday, February 19, 2020

24 February 2020: When Diseases Reinvent Urban Space

Samuel Benkimoun
Université Paris-1 and Centre for Science and Humanities (CSH)

Organised by
Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH)

The ongoing epidemic of Coronavirus showcases the absolute need to monitor properly the spatiality of diseases in terms of case distribution and environmental context. Such a spatial analysis is necessary to be able to apprehend the determinants of the disease’s spread. The disciplinary field of health geography aims to identify the spatial characteristics that influence the emergence of disease outbreak and make certain territories more vulnerable than others. Yet while geographical factors influence the spread of diseases, analysing this very diffusion of diseases also reveals significant information about a territory’s spatial dynamics.

This presentation will focus on the case of dengue fever—whose burden is globally estimated at 390 million infections per year according to WHO—in the city of Delhi. I will attempt to show how the case of dengue invites us to rethink urban space and question the notion of “cities” as complex and dynamic systems of flows with constantly changing boundaries. This is due to the fact that diseases are not confined to administrative perimeters but move where infected people go. Recently, dengue has also been brought into the public political debate, with the campaign by the Delhi government entitled “#10Hafte10Baje10Minute”. Delhi citizens were exhorted to get rid of mosquito breeding sites (i.e. the vectors of dengue transmission) by devoting 10 minutes each week to inspecting their own houses and surrounding areas. Such an objective of dengue eradication raises questions regarding the priority focus of public policy. At what scale should health policy be implemented, and on which geographical areas should it focus? This is particularly relevant given the frenetic urban growth that the city of Delhi experiences.

To support this analysis, we will rely on a very unique dataset provided by Facebook in the frame of its “Data for Good Project”. This data gives an accurate record of users’ mobility across all of Northern India. Combined with other data sources such as Census data, dengue cases records from sentinel hospitals, or satellite imagery on urban settlement, this data will allow us to conduct geospatial analysis at a suburban level and present various indicators and cartographies depicting a broader picture of Delhi’s urban context regarding the dengue issue.

Date: February 24, 2020
Time: 05:00 P.M.

Conference Room (Ground Floor)
Centre for Science and Humanities (CSH),
2, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road,
New Delhi - 110 011

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