While no one can definitively tell you how the world is likely to change post pandemic, I do have a few thoughts and suggestions to share. While, I am highly skeptical that things born of the pandemic such as “social distancing” will long out-live their usefulness – hence my skepticism for the need of such dubious concepts as “social distancing through environmental design” or “suspended body visors”- I kid you not – I do believe that the pandemic will have a lasting legacy.
In this regard, I see it as a great amplifier and accelerator of “established” trends/movements that existed pre-pandemic, but had not yet fully come of age. These include such things as working from home, the use of video conferencing and video streaming in lieu of the theatre experience, internet shopping, the demise of neighbourhood, in-door malls, artificial intelligence/automation, deglobalization (particularly of manufacturing), delayed household formation and even bike lanes—now for the CPTED implications.
The trend towards working from home will have a profound influence on the prospect of residential natural surveillance given that there will be a lot more people working from home during the times that residential burglars have traditionally been most active. This, along with a parallel trend towards delayed household formation exacerbated by pandemic related economic dislocation and devastation, should translate into fewer residential burglaries for years to come, notwithstanding a spike in overall crime.
The pandemic will also heighten our sense of territoriality particularly as it relates to being in tight quarters for prolonged periods of time such as the airline industry and mass transit. This should also extend to our personal lives, as we attempt to gain ever greater control over the comings and goings of people onto and off our property and the management of parcel delivery. This will manifest itself by an acceleration of the trend towards smart home technology including a proliferation of home video surveillance systems.
The impact on travel, at least in the near term, can be expected to be particularly profound as was the case with tourism in the post 9-11 world. This was clearly demonstrated by the impact in tourism at Niagara’s Horseshoe Falls, which took five full years for tourists to return to pre 9-11 levels.
I expect this heightened sense of territoriality, will also translate into a preference for individual modes of travel be it personal vehicles, walking or bicycles. The latter will result in an acceleration in the trend towards the development of bike lanes as we seek to separate ourselves from others when we choose or are required to commute.
I also see some major changes with respect to access control. It is a given, that access control will grow to include temperature checks for air-line and cruise-ship travel. We should also anticipate the development of a larger 21st, century version of the milk-chute in the form of a sally-port or closet for the ramped-up delivery of on-line products. This trend will extend to bricks and mortar retail and service establishments who will place a greater reliance on take-out and pick-up. This will manifest itself with the development of more take-out windows, drive-throughs and “street” access doors which will become a fixture of new and refurbished malls.
The great pandemic of 2020 will fast forward many established trends and serve as a catalyst for others. It has also added another reason for CPTED practitioners to “question everything” and “never look at a property the same way again” as we navigate our way through the “new normal” for many years to come.