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Redrawing the Map of Great Britain from a Network of Human Interactions

Ratti, C; Sobolevsky, S; Calabrese, F; Andris, C; Reades, J; Martino, M; Claxton, R; (2010) Redrawing the Map of Great Britain from a Network of Human Interactions. PLOS ONE , 5 (12) , Article e14248. 10.1371/journal.pone.0014248. Green open access


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Do regional boundaries defined by governments respect the more natural ways that people interact across space? This paper proposes a novel, fine-grained approach to regional delineation, based on analyzing networks of billions of individual human transactions. Given a geographical area and some measure of the strength of links between its inhabitants, we show how to partition the area into smaller, non-overlapping regions while minimizing the disruption to each person's links. We tested our method on the largest non-Internet human network, inferred from a large telecommunications database in Great Britain. Our partitioning algorithm yields geographically cohesive regions that correspond remarkably well with administrative regions, while unveiling unexpected spatial structures that had previously only been hypothesized in the literature. We also quantify the effects of partitioning, showing for instance that the effects of a possible secession of Wales from Great Britain would be twice as disruptive for the human network than that of Scotland.

Type: Article
Title: Redrawing the Map of Great Britain from a Network of Human Interactions
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0014248
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0014248
Language: English
Additional information: © 2010 Ratti 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 and source are credited. The authors were partially funded by the AT&T Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Defense Science and Engineering Fellowship Program, and Audi Volkswagen. Rob Claxton was funded by BT Group plc, which contributed to data collection and had no role in study design, data analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The other funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Rob Claxton is employed by BT Group plc. This affiliation does not alter the authors' adherence to all PLoS ONE policies on the sharing of data and materials.
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/403087
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