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New Forms of Data for Understanding Urban Activity in Developing Countries

Manley, E; Dennett, A; (2018) New Forms of Data for Understanding Urban Activity in Developing Countries. Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy 10.1007/s12061-018-9264-8. Green open access

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Abstract

Emerging forms of data offer new opportunities for developing a deeper understanding of poorly understood social and spatial processes. This is no more important than in developing countries, where large-scale data collection and processing has been relatively limited. In this paper, we explore how two new datasets can be used to enhance our understanding of human activity and communication interactions in Dakar, Senegal. Starting from a premise of little contextual knowledge about the setting in which we are working, we explore how much these data, combined with novel quantitative methods, are able to inform us about the urban environment in question. Fine-grained infrastructural data are combined with k-means clustering to produce an 11-class land use classification, distinguishing dense and sparse, single and mixed use regions. Using these classifications and over 1.5 billion mobile phone call records, patterns of activity and interaction within and between land use types are analysed. These analyses reveal strong activity associated with high density commercial, governmental and administrative regions. These regions are also identified as relatively strong ‘attractors’ of communication, and wider patterns show higher interactions between areas with similar land use characteristics. Analyses of dynamic activity and interaction patterns highlight the movement of people from workplace zones to residential areas. Importantly, these analyses reflect the expected patterns of urban activity, providing some validation of the data, methods, and the empirical approach. The paper concludes in addressing the strengths and potential of these approaches, while recognising current limitations and areas for further work.

Type: Article
Title: New Forms of Data for Understanding Urban Activity in Developing Countries
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s12061-018-9264-8
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12061-018-9264-8
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2018. Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10054113
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