From Reflection to Action.
How this playbook came about.

Existing methods of managing and securing public health may not work in the years to come with the increase in scale, frequency and severity of communicable diseases. Climate change and antimicrobial resistance continue to add further challenges. With the COVID-19 pandemic it has become clear that public health in our cities requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders in addition to what is done at the state and national level.

What role will policymakers and administrators play in the emerging future of the health of our cities, and how should they play it effectively?

This playbook brings together learnings and experiences from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic to inform city-level action towards health resilience in the future. The playbook has been put together by Quicksand, a design research and innovation consultancy based in India. This work was anchored in 35+ dialogues and interviews with city and state officials, scientists, industrialists and other non-governmental actors in Bengaluru and Pune, through which we learnt from their experience of managing and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in their respective cities. These interviews were aimed at unpacking individual and group learnings, reflections and experiences to inform and inspire future action.

Understand how they created pathways between data and evidence to action. What worked? Why did it work? What can be improved?

How might we build on these achievements and apply learnings to other infectious diseases?

Both Bengaluru and Pune faced a range of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic that any local administration will relate to, and empathize with. With both common and unique challenges, city administrators in these cities along with other partners came up with innovative measures to deal with the evolving nature of the completely unknown and unprecedented pandemic. These ranged from new collaborative partnerships with industry in Pune, to the exceptional use of technology for outbreak management in Bangalore. Through mapping these practices across various levels of the cities' responses and synthesizing them into actionable principles, this playbook presents concrete guidance for city administrators to manage the recurring stresses that the health systems in our cities are bound to face in coming times.

During the interviews, we adapted our conversations to respond to each respondent's role, availability and comfort because re-visiting COVID in itself was not easy. Many of our respondents would start by meticulously laying out their episodic memory of the crisis, before shaping it into something that was of relevance as takeaways for the future. These partners also provided multiple rounds of feedback on our initial drafts and contributed to the vision of this Playbook. We are immensely grateful for their generous and open sharing. This work also seeks to honor the collective work and innovation that various individuals and groups, both within government and , demonstrated throughout the pandemic. Through our interactions with them, we recognise more fully how complex an administrator's job is.

Through this playbook, we hope you can see the value of generative and shared learning through complexity and the connectivity of our work, despite our diverse locations and contexts. This participatory mapping of learnings focuses on interconnections and supports the sharing of experiences and learnings, so that the work that was done through the challenges of the pandemic can inspire several others in the years to come, to create new knowledge and practice that advances our shared goal of healthier cities.

The success of this playbook hinges on your participation. Together, we can transform reflection into action and shape a healthier future for our cities.

Those within the system already have an idea of the role they should play in the emerging future, and how to play it too. This Playbook is our attempt to gather their vision and efforts into actionable guidelines, and amplify it.


This playbook was created with support from The Rockefeller Foundation. We wish to thank all the experts we interacted with, for sharing their knowledge, perspectives and field experience with us. This project would not have been possible without their cooperation.

Megan Diamond and Manisha Bhinge from the Rockefeller Foundation provided us support and valuable direction and guidance through the course of this work. We would also like to extend a special note of gratitude to Dr Bhaskar Rajakumar, the former Head of the BBMP Central Covid War Room and Priyanki Shah from the Pune Knowledge Cluster for their valuable guidance and support in this project. We couldn't have gained access to and written about the policy ecosystems in the two cities without their help. We would also like to thank Rohit Satish from AI & Robotics Technology Park (ARTPARK), Poornima Sangewar and Niharika Gogate from PKC, So O'Neil and Divya Vohra from Mathematica as well as the Chase India team for their support and feedback.

In the following list, in Bengaluru we have referred to all our contributors by the positions they held during the pandemic unless indicated otherwise. In Pune, we have referred to all our contributors by their current designations, unless indicated otherwise.


Uma Mahadevan

Additional Chief Secretary, Rural Development & Panchayat Raj, GoK

Tushar Giri Nath

IAS, Chief Commissioner, BBMP [Current]

Major Manivannan

IAS, Principal Secretary, Department of Labour & Department of Information and Public Relations, GoK

Munish Mudgil

IAS, Principal Secretary, GoK & Head, State Covid War Room, GoK

Biswajit Mishra

IFS, Chief Conservator of Forests & Head, State Covid Data Cell, GoK

Randeep D

IAS, Special Commissioner, BBMP

Dr Thrilok Chandra

Commissioner, Department of Health & Family Welfare (Health), GoK

Pallavi KR

KMAS, Joint Commissioner- East Zone, BBMP

Harish HP

Deputy Director, Mines & Geology Department, GoK & Special Officer: Central Covid War Room, BBMP

Dr M K Sudarshan

Head: Technical Advisory Committee, GoK

Dr Balasundar

Chief Health Officer, Public Health, BBMP [Current]

Dr Mohammed Shariff

Deputy Director, DHFW, GoK & Member Secretary, Technical Advisory Committee, GoK

Dr Padma MR

Deputy Director, DHFW & Head, State Surveillance Unit, GoK [Current]

Dr Bhaskar Rajakumar

Head, Central Covid War Room, BBMP

Dr Maheshwari Bhaskar

Nodal Officer-Central Covid War Room, BBMP

Dr Deepak Nadig

Nodal Officer- Testing, BBMP

Dr Sushil Kumar Ichini

Nodal Officer-COVID-19 Vaccinations, BBMP

Dr Preetha Thomas

Epidemiologist, Mahadevapura Zone, BBMP

Dr Rehan Shahed

Nodal Officer- South Zone War Room, BBMP

Suresh Nair

Technical Head: State Covid War Room, GoK

Raghu Dharmaraju

CEO, ARTPARK, IISc [Current]

Dr Angela Chaudhari

CEO, Swasti Health Catalyst

Dr Chitra Pattabiraman

Consultant - Pathogen Genomics [Current]

Dr Harsha PK

Scientist, Strand Life Sciences

Dr Farah Ishtiaq

Principal Scientist, Tata Institute for Genetics & Society (TIGS)

Soma Das

Advisor, CHASE India

Dr Varsha Shridhar

Chief Enabling Officer, Molecular Solutions Care Health LLP


Founder, StepOne


Dr. Priya Nagaraj

CEO, Pune Knowledge Cluster (PKC)

Atharva Pathak

Software Engineer, PKC

Dr Pradeep Awate

State Surveillance Officer, Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) (during COVID-19)

Dr Amol Mankar

Consultant, IDSP

Ayush Prasad

CEO, Zilla Parishad (during COVID-19)

Dr LS Shashidhara

Director-NCBS, Co-Principal Investigator-PKC

Priyanki Shah

Senior Project Manager - Health, PKC

Dr. Varsha Dange

Senior Medical Officer, Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC)

Dr Sanjeev Wavare

Additional Medical Officer Health, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC)

Sudhir Mehta

Chairman & Managing Director- Pinnacle Industries Limited, Lead - Pune Platform for Covid-19 Response (PPCR)

Dr Mahesh Dharne

Principal Scientist, National Chemical Laboratory (NCL)

Dr. Joy Monteiro

Assistant Professor - Earth and Climate Science Data Science (Joint), IISER Pune

Dr Ameet Dravid

Infectious Disease Specialist