Social interaction – and understanding the factors that enable or diminish it – is important for individual, economic and social well-being.
“Social activities promote the relationships, shared knowledge and experiences that build valuable social capital that will make the cities of the 21st century more successful and globally competitive,” says Farber. “We know from previous research that sprawl and increased use of automobiles are related to reduced social contact, and also that social activities are first to drop out of people’s daily schedules when pressed for time. So, sprawling cities may one day suffer unforeseen consequences when their citizens cannot and do not get together socially.”
Researchers used a new calculation, called social interaction potential, or SIP, to measure opportunities for people to engage in face-to-face socializing. For this study, they focused on calculating the possibilities for people in large metropolitan areas to get together after work, which represents a large percentage of the planned social activities that take place among workers in the United States.
Using census-tract data in each of the 42 largest cities in the United States, they simulated millions of pairs of possible combinations of home and work locations in each city. To that, a time element was added since people don’t have unlimited time to accomplish a given task. In this case, a single, after work time “budget” of 90 minutes was added to the calculations to replicate realistic constraints on the choice to socialize.
The resulting space-time “prism” – which is basically an envelope derived from triangulating home location and workplace with the number of likely gathering places given the time budget – overlays with others to varying degrees. That gives researchers a way to look at possibilities for social interactions in a given city, and also to assess which factors most hinder opportunities for social contacts.
The researchers compared the actual amount of interaction opportunity with the maximum possible, given the size of the city. That allowed them to gauge the SIP efficiency, or how well the urban layout enables people to socialize.
That data were correlated with information on 35 characteristics of each city, such as its area, size of the population, residential and employment densities, travel times and highway density.
Farber relied on a supercomputer at the University of Utah Center for High Performance Computing to crunch the vast amount of data. “Predictably, the math just explodes,” notes Farber, “but it gives us a multidimensional look at the human costs of urban sprawl.”
The 35 city characteristics sorted into the five factors most identifiable with urban sprawl: decentralization, which means the dispersion of population and industry away from a central core; big city, meaning size and density of the population; fragmentation, meaning built areas that are interrupted by open space; polarization, or low mixing of land uses in a given area; and long commute times. Of the five, three – decentralization, fragmentation and commute times – significantly reduced the opportunity for socializing and, of them, decentralization had the strongest effect.
“Now that we have data to measure the connections between sprawl and social contact,” Farber adds, “we are interested in future research that looks at how transportation and land-use patterns might impact social interaction differently throughout a region, asking questions about how that might affect social equity and segregation. For example, who in a city has more or less social interaction potential, and does that affect social segregation and political polarization?”
Valoree Dowell | Newswise
Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology
Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering
17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering
17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine