Monash University announces The Melbourne Experiment to study effects of the COVID-19 shutdown on cities

Monash University today announces The Melbourne Experiment, a landmark interdisciplinary research collaboration to study the effects of the COVID-19 restrictions on the functions of the city.

Bringing together senior researchers across the University, The Melbourne Experiment examines key activities and elements of the urban environment before, during and after the COVID-19 shutdown.

Given the significant immediate and long-term impacts of the pandemic on Melbourne, the project will investigate a diverse set of activities including traffic flow, electricity use, urban and household behaviour, use of parks and public spaces and air quality.

Monash University Provost and Senior Vice-President, Professor Marc Parlange, said The Melbourne Experiment would reveal information about the essential functions and challenges of a city.

“The global shutdown to control COVID-19 is an historic disruption to urban life. In these circumstances, we can observe activities that are fundamental to the idea of a city being brought to a stop, the positive and negative impacts on different groups, and then monitor how or whether they return as restrictions are gradually lifted,” Professor Parlange said.

The Melbourne Experiment will use its findings to develop new approaches for sustainable urban growth, emphasising social cohesion and environmental conservation alongside economic prosperity. A core aim is to explore the question: ‘What will Melbourne look like in 2050?’ if there is insufficient action to grow sustainably and inclusively.

“This pandemic will have very significant impacts, both immediate and long-term, on the shape of Australian society. It is essential that government and other decision makers have access to the best information during the recovery. This research will contribute significantly to achieving that outcome,” Professor Parlange said.

“For six decades Monash has earned an international reputation for engaging successfully with communities and industry to address the great challenges of the age. The Melbourne Experiment is an opportunity to leverage this capability and use evidence gained from this experience at the city scale to deliver global lessons.”

As the Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Regional Centre of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Monash is uniquely placed and motivated to mobilise communities to create a better and more sustainable future, as articulated by the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

For more information on the research programs undertaken as part of The Melbourne Experiment, please visit the Monash University website.

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