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Thread: Urbanization and travel time - a new approach?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Urbanization and travel time - a new approach?

    Anyone see this story about urbanization and the model the World Bank is set to adopt? It factors in not just urbanized population centers, but access to those centers by considering, for example, how many people live within one hour of a major population center. I found this interesting for the way it factors in not just proximity but access, transportation and infrastructure. Living 45 miles outside of Tororo, Uganda is a lot different than 45 miles outside Baltimore, afterall...

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...1217192745.htm
    A new global map released by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre and published in the World Bank’s World Development Report 2009, measures urbanisation from the new perspective of Travel Time to 8,500 Major Cities. The map fills an important gap in our understanding of economic, physical and even social connectivity.

    Some key findings:
    * we passed the point at which more than half the world’s populations live in cities around the turn of the Millennium (2000) - much earlier than the 2007/8 estimate;
    * more than half of the world's population lives less than 1 hour from a major city, but the breakdown is 85% of the developed world and only 35% of the developing world;
    * 95% of the world's population is concentrated on just 10% of the world's land; but
    * only 10% of the world's land area is classified as "remote" or more than 48 hours from a large city.
    What do you all think of this? Is this a useful and valuable way to think about urbanization and how it impacts development? Are there other factors beyond accessibility that should be factored in?

    I was struck when I lived in Uganda, for example, that almost everyone I knew had a concrete familial connection to a rural area. They would send money "home" or "upcountry," visit often, and some were building homes there with the intention of moving there permanently one day (ie. for retirement). For these people, their local cultural identities were very strong and things like language, performance groups, social/cultural events, etc. that took place in the cities by migrants were a very active part of urban life. This scenario shows a high degree of connection between the urban center and outlying areas with constant movements between the two.

    Contrast this with a friend from the Central African Republic who grew up in an urban environment with parents who had no concrete connection with their home territory. He does not speak the language of his ancestors, nor is he familiar with their dance and music traditions (he is a musician, though) or any other cultural activities. This scenario shows a more ruptured connection between urban centers and the outlying rural areas with population movement largely moving from rural to urban, but not back again.

    I expect the future pattern of urbanization in these two countries will be quite distinct from one another, for example.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  2. #2
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    Development and Transportation

    The development of areas across the world does in many ways hinge on the transportation infrastructure and modal availability. As it was noted, "Living 45 miles outside of Tororo, Uganda is a lot different than 45 miles outside Baltimore, afterall..."

    The population figures are interesting and there are multiple factors to consider in how a town or a larger city develop. As this map is expanded and the accessibility further studied, perhaps some kind of modal choice index can be developed. I know there is more and more study of modal choice occuring in developing countries, even though it seems the study has historically been interested in developed countries. The choices, or lack thereof, would be an interesting factor to help gauge the accessibility or development of an area.

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