Archived Webinar

GPURL #OnlineLearningSeries: Cities & Contagion - Rapid Deployment Tool to Identify COVID-19 Exposure Hotspots

"Learn more about the new tool and discuss possible consequences and challenges"

During the next several weeks and months, World Bank client countries will be marshaling their limited available resources to confront COVID-19 as effectively as possible. There is urgency in anticipating emerging hotspots so that medical and civil resources can be targeted to limit diffusion into surrounding areas.  The challenge is particularly amplified in dense urban areas, where crowding and lack of local amenities such as water and sanitation can exacerbate COVID-19 contagion. To help city leaders prioritize resources towards priority areas, the World Bank’s Global Practice of Urban, Resilience, and Land (GPURL) has developed a rapid deployment tool to identify hotspots where the risk of exposure and community contagion is likely to be high. This tool is based on (a) potential for keeping people apart (based on density and livable floor space that make 2m physical distance challenging) and (b) proximity to places where people may cluster, even in a lockdown (accessing public toilets, communal water pumps, etc).

Presenter Resources

About the Presenters

Somik V. Lall

Global Lead on Territorial and Spatial Development, GPURL

Somik V. Lall is the World Bank’s global lead on territorial development solutions and a lead economist for urban development. He is a recognized expert on development policy related to urban and territorial competitiveness, agglomeration and clusters, and infrastructure, with over 20 years’ global experience, most notably in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. He has been a core team member of the World Development Report 2009: Reshaping Economic Geography and developed the policy framework for the development of lagging areas within countries. He is the lead author of the World Bank’s flagship report on Urbanization, Planning, Connecting & Financing Cities—Now, as well as the recent Africa’s Cities: Opening Doors to the World. Somik heads a World Bank global research program on urbanization and spatial development and previously founded the Urbanization Reviews program. His research and policy advisory interests focus on place-shaping policies around cities, clusters, and corridors and the functioning of factor and product markets, with more than 40 publications featured in peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Development Economics and Journal of Urban Economics; edited volumes, including the Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics; and working papers.

Maria Edisa Soppelsa

Economist ET Consultant, GPURL

Maria Edisa Soppelsa is an economist consultant in the Urban Global Unit at the World Bank. Her work focuses on urban expansion and density, and how public policies can impact city growth. She has also studied urban air pollution with a focus on city competitiveness. Before joining the Bank, she focused on spatial analysis in urban and environmental economics, particularly land use and land conservation. She holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Sameh Naguib Wahba

Global Director, Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land, World Bank​

Sameh Wahba, an Egyptian national, is the Global Director for the World Bank’s Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience, and Land Global Practice, based in Washington, D.C. The Global Practice, which also covers territorial development, geospatial and results-based-financing issues, has a portfolio of close to $30 billion in commitments in investment projects, program-for-results, and development policy lending, and about 450 staff. Prior to this, Mr. Wahba served as the Director for Urban and Territorial Development, Disaster Risk Management and Resilience at the World Bank Group’s Social, Urban-Rural, and Resilience Global Practice, where he oversaw the formulation of the World Bank’s strategy, design, and delivery of all lending, technical assistance, policy advisory activities, and partnerships at the global level. He also served as Practice Manager for the Urban and Disaster Risk Management unit in Africa and the Global Urban and Resilience Unit, and as Acting Director of Operations and Strategy for the Global Practice. He worked as Sustainable Development Sector Leader for Brazil, based in Brasilia, and as an urban specialist focused on housing, land, local economic development, and municipal management and service delivery in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the Middle East and North Africa Regions. Prior to joining the Bank in 2004, he worked at the Institute of Housing and Urban Development Studies in Rotterdam and at the Harvard Center for Urban Development Studies. Mr. Wahba holds a Ph.D. and Master’s degree in Urban Planning from Harvard University, and a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Architectural Engineering from Cairo University. 

Richard Damania

Chief Economist, Sustainable Development Practice Group

Richard Damania is the Global Lead Economist in the World Bank’s Water Practice. He leads the Practice’s work on analytical, advisory, and operational engagements related to the role of water and the economy. Prior to this he was the Lead Economist of the Africa Sustainable Development Department with responsibility for infrastructure, environment and social issues. In this capacity, he led the analytical program and was responsible for quality control. He has also served as Lead Economist in South Asia and Latin America and Caribbean Regions of the World Bank. Before joining the World Bank he was Professor of Economics at the University of Adelaide in Australia.  He has published extensively with over 100 papers that span matters ranging from Natural Resources, Infrastructure Economics, Climate Change and the Economics of Regulation. He has held numerous advisory positions in government and international organizations and serves on the Editorial Board of several prestigious academic journals.

Questions Submitted

Mahaman Mourtala

- Nov 19, 2021


- Jul 26, 2021


- Jun 5, 2021


- Jan 15, 2021


- May 27, 2020


- May 21, 2020


- May 2, 2020

Mohammad Nadir

- Apr 26, 2020


- Apr 23, 2020
good learning series!

Joy Mildred Adhiambo

- Apr 23, 2020
Rapid Deployment Tool to Identify COVID-19 Exposure Hotspots
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