Corona and contemporary mobilities

-by Aharon Kellerman, University of Haifa

One way of looking at mobilities during these challenging Corona days, is noting the sharp decline in mechanized physical mobilities. This refers to terrestrial mobilities, including mainly trains, cars and buses, as well as to global ones, performed mainly through planes. During pre-modern eruptions of widely spread plagues, such slowdowns or almost full halts of physical mobilities amounted to a temporary suspension of mobilities at large. The current global epidemics is identified by a stopping of human physical mobilities, but this occurs side by side with continued open doors for the flows of commodities and information, both of which flowing at the domestic and international levels alike. The continued flows of commodities and information amount to continued domestic and global mobilities at the present, despite of the stopping of human physical mobilities. These mobilities will further serve as the basis for renewed human physical mobilities, once the plague will be over. The mechanized means for physical human mobilities exist, so that one can assume renewed wide physical mobilities following the end of the Corona crisis. However, it might well be that border crossing may involve new restrictions, such as temperature checking (as China used to require several years ago). The major difference between historical wide-ranging plagues and the current one is the wide availability of telecommunicated media for virtual mobilities. Mass communications media, notably radio and TV, permit authorities to distribute warnings, orders and guidelines to large populations, and this may turn out to constitute a major element in the fight against the continued spread of the Corona virus. Even more significant is the contemporary ability of people, who are forced to stay at home, to continue their work and stay in touch with their social contacts through the Internet, which further permits the reaching of endless sources for entertainment, news and knowledge. Obviously, if these media would not have existed, the behavior of populations during the virus crisis would have been completely different, possibly bringing about additional sick and dead people. Autonomous automobility, notably through shared autonomous vehicles, if available already now, could assist in the maintenance of healthier mobility, by the provision of a possible automatic cleaning and sterilization of cars after each ride. However, the very availability of autonomous vehicles would not make a difference, as compared to driven cars, since there are no destinations to go to, when everything is shut down…

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