How to Use Curb Manager as a Pandemic Response Tool

Jacob Malleau
March 11, 2021

The emergence of COVID-19 drastically changed how governments, people, and businesses alike operate throughout the world. Cities were no exception; municipal staff from Madrid to Toronto organized pandemic responses that balanced citizen’s safety while also supporting local businesses. The result was a range of solutions across cities consisting of slow streets and sidewalk extensions for pedestrians, curbside patios for dining, bike lanes for cyclists, and designated curbside spaces for pick ups and deliveries.

A new look for the curbside due to pandemic response

Although these installations were generally well received – people could now socialize, dine, and exercise outside safely – chaos at the curbside ensued. Quickly implemented curbside changes left drivers confused at where they can park, lane reductions meant customers and couriers struggled to get to their destinations, and road closures caused increased congestion on adjacent streets.

Introducing Curb Manager as a Pandemic Response Tool

Curb Manager was designed to help municipal staff efficiently update, create, review, and publish curbside regulations on a user-friendly platform. It provides a welcome alternative to the tedious process of searching through regulation schedules or open data and manually repealing and editing various line items.  

Now Curb Manager can provide an equivalent streamlined process for planning and implementing curbside changes for pandemic response. This process is outlined below and covers everything from planning to installation and communication of curbside infrastructure.

Step 1: Choosing A Location

When staff are deciding where to locate a curbside patio or temporary sidewalk extension, it is crucial to know not only what curbside regulations are currently in place at the proposed location, but also what restrictions surround it. A curb extension shouldn’t be located where there is a fire hydrant, whereas an area that already has parking restrictions may make more sense. Similarly, a patio shouldn’t be placed right beside a garbage pick up zone or in the middle of a designated no stopping lane during rush hour.

Panning the Curbside to Understand Existing Conditions and Select a Curb Segment

Curb Manager lets a user visualize curbside regulations to understand existing conditions and place these restrictions where it makes the most sense. A user can simply pan the map to view restrictions and select the segment they wish to install the infrastructure on. This eliminates the need to complete surveys all over the city to understand existing conditions.

Step 2: Making A Regulation

Information such as how long the infrastructure will be installed, main points of contact, and the hours it is in operation, is all essential to flesh out when planning a curbside change. Curb Manager provides a sleek editing panel to input this information as well as the regulation type itself. This data can be saved for review and further refined based on feedback.

Editing Various Attributes for a Curbside Patio

Step 3: Accommodating Changes

Every additional curbside change to accommodate the pandemic comes at a cost. For example, curbside patios replace paid parking spaces, a bike lane reduces vehicles lanes. Therefore, when implementing these changes, the corresponding impacts should try to be minimized. Curb Manager can help with this by letting users change regulations around a new piece of infrastructure to accommodate a change. Were parking spaces removed? You can repeal the parking restrictions around the corner to make up for it. Are you replacing a lane of traffic with bike lanes or sidewalk extensions? Extend no stopping restrictions on the next main thoroughfare to provide an alternative route for traffic. By accommodating these pandemic related changes, municipal staff can alleviate many of the issues that come with this work before they even occur.

Change Adjacent Regulations to Accommodate Pandemic Response Installations

From the Digital Curb to Reality

Planning a pandemic response is often only half the challenge; getting changes approved and effectively communicating the response to staff and the public brings forth its own set of issues. Fortunately, Curb Manager can be used to minimize these problems as well. The Proposed Changes view provides a useful visualization alongside exported lists of changes to help upper management understand the changes and speed up the approval process. Curb Manager also lets users easily tweak proposed plans based on feedback.

Proposed Change Map and List View

Once changes are approved, these same visualizations can be used to help create work orders, plan construction, and convey changes to relevant stakeholders.
Changes can also be published to Curb Viewer and Curb Rules API so that pandemic response plans can be easily communicated to the general public and mobility companies. This should maximize usage of the installations while also minimizing confusion.

Curb Manager infographic
Pandemic Response from Initial Planning to Installation and Communication

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought increased uncertainty into everyone’s lives. Using Curb Manager as a pandemic response tool can help alleviate some of these unknowns by providing effective means to plan, approve, initiate, and communicate COVID safety installations throughout cities.

Jacob Malleau
Jacob’s passions for big cities, systems technology, and sustainable mobility align with the work he is involved with as a Transportation EIT at IBI Group. Jacob brings his combination of systems design experience, policy background, and data analytics perspective to help integrate many of IBI Group’s existing practices with the tech-based solutions they are pushing forward.
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