9 September 2011 – MIT researchers have used social networking data to create a new spatial mapping toolbox for cities available free to urban designers and planners.
“Network centrality measures are useful predictors for a number of interesting urban phenomena,” Andres Sevtsuk, the principal investigator of the City Form Research Group at MIT told ScienceDaily.
“They help explain, for instance, on which streets or buildings one is most likely to find local commerce, where foot or vehicular traffic is expected to be highest, and why city land values vary from one location to another.”
The article explains that “network analysis is widely used in the study of social networks, such as Facebook friends or phonebook connections, but so far fairly little in the spatial analysis of cities.
The toolbox allows computation of five types of graph analysis measures on spatial networks: Reach; Gravity; Betweenness; Closeness; and Straightness.
“While the study of spatial networks goes back to Euler and his famous puzzle of Königsberg’s seven bridges in the 18th century, there were, until recently, no freely accessible tools available for city planners to calculate computation-intensive spatial centrality measures on dense networks of city streets and buildings,” the article says.