Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Strong Urban Cores Promote Socializing in the City

16.04.2013
Long commute times and urban areas that leapfrog over open space make it harder for people to socialize, but cities that are decentralized are even worse, University of Utah researchers say in a study published online today in the Journal of Transport Geography.
“We found that decentralization has 10 times the negative impact of fragmentation, and 20 times that of longer commute times,” says Steven Farber, assistant professor of geography at the university. “For planners and policy makers concerned about making our cities more vibrant, it is clear that intensifying development has the most positive effect on social interaction.”

“These data suggest that ideas like converting parking lots to condos, or reducing the size of roads to accommodate cafes that spill out onto the sidewalks, can have social benefits that outweigh the cost of increased traffic,” he notes.

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
Further information:
http://www.utah.edu

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary

21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cnidarians remotely control bacteria

21.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?

21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>