Public Health

How might we prepare cities and residents to adapt and respond to global public health crises?


San Diego is a vacation destination for many people who want to relax and take in the sun and surf. In 2017 San Diego attracted 35 million tourists to its sandy beaches and high profile events like Comic-Con. Furthermore, San Diego’s status as a Navy hub means that many sailors are coming through the port each year from all over the world. These factors are a boon for the local economy but they also introduce risks of being exposed to outbreaks like COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The World Health Organization recently classified COVID-19 (Coronavirus) as a global pandemic ( This development along with other recent outbreaks of SARS, H1N1, and Ebola are highlighting the risk that globalization poses to public health. Besides virus outbreaks, there are many other trends that pose public health challenges such as the rise of e-cigarettes which can affect the health outcomes of young adults. More broadly, public health challenges are also tied in with the issue of equity. Health crises tend to hit lower socioeconomic communities the hardest.

Specific angles to explore

Although globalization is connecting countries and cultures like never before, it is important to also consider how this increased connectivity may pose new challenges to our public health infrastructures. What new technologies and cultural practices can we design to keep people connected while preventing global health crises?

Adopting sanitary practices: How might we integrate sanitary practices into daily activities in seamless and convenient ways?

Virtualization: How might we provide virtual connection to keep communities together when viruses require that they stay further apart?

Public transportation: How might we reduce the spread of germs on public transportation systems, especially during flu season and outbreaks?

Reimaging Quarantines: How might we reimagine the process of being quarantined to be a more humane and comforting experience?

Virus Detection: How might we adopt technology, such as infrared cameras, in public spaces to alert (but not shame) people who may be unknowing carriers of a viral infection?