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Structure of Urban Movements: Polycentric Activity and Entangled Hierarchical Flows

Roth, C; Kang, SM; Batty, M; Barthelemy, M; (2011) Structure of Urban Movements: Polycentric Activity and Entangled Hierarchical Flows. PLOS ONE , 6 (1) , Article e15923. 10.1371/journal.pone.0015923. Green open access


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The spatial arrangement of urban hubs and centers and how individuals interact with these centers is a crucial problem with many applications ranging from urban planning to epidemiology. We utilize here in an unprecedented manner the large scale, real-time 'Oyster' card database of individual person movements in the London subway to reveal the structure and organization of the city. We show that patterns of intraurban movement are strongly heterogeneous in terms of volume, but not in terms of distance travelled, and that there is a polycentric structure composed of large flows organized around a limited number of activity centers. For smaller flows, the pattern of connections becomes richer and more complex and is not strictly hierarchical since it mixes different levels consisting of different orders of magnitude. This new understanding can shed light on the impact of new urban projects on the evolution of the polycentric configuration of a city and the dense structure of its centers and it provides an initial approach to modeling flows in an urban system.

Type: Article
Title: Structure of Urban Movements: Polycentric Activity and Entangled Hierarchical Flows
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015923
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0015923
Language: English
Additional information: © 2011 Roth et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: PATTERNS
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1300698
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