Modelling the links between transport, air quality and COVID-19 spread using naturalistic data from Dhaka, Bangladesh

The aim is to investigate the effects of covid-19 related policy interventions on the transport outcome and correlating these with potential changes in air quality, traffic fatality and spread of the disease.

Transport clearly has a large role in spreading contagious diseases. Standard response to fighting COVID19 in most developed countries has been imposing a lockdown – including on the transport sector – to slow down the spread. Though the Government of Bangladesh also imposed a lockdown quite early, due to economic reasons, it was forced to relax the lockdown.

Decisions from the leaders of the garment sector also led to changes in transport activities and potential step-changes in COVID19 spread. This makes the country, and its capital, Dhaka, a one-of-a-kind ‘living-lab’ to study the interaction between policy decisions, transport impacts, air quality impacts at several discrete steps. The significant policy changes also occurred quiet early on when the infection rate and death rate were still increasing.

Very few (if any) countries in the world – either low income or high income – can offer this unique naturalistic experiment opportunity to study these linkages between external policy or business decision-induced changes in transport activity and COVID19 spread.

Impact

The project will be especially useful in understanding the differential impacts of different policy measures on transport, air quality and COVID19 spread, and thus help future evidence-based decision making.