Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How Do Smart Phones Affect Car Use, Street Networks and Urban Design?

The Car as Smartphone: Effects on the Built Environment and Sociality(22 page pdf, Ben Schulman, 2013)

Also discussed here: Are smartphones changing the geography of our cities?(Human Transit, Oct. 28, 2013)

And here: Grid Unlocked: How Street Networks Evolve as Cities Grow(Sarah Fecht, Scientific American, Apr. 6, 2012)

Today we review a paper on the changing impacts that the introduction of first cars and then smart phones and online devices have had and might have in the future on the design of street networks and of the city itself. Both cars and online devices serve a social communicative purpose. Cars move communications outward and encourage sprawl. The growth of smart phone use appears to be linked to the decline of car use and the tendency for more young people to live in the downtown core where they can communicate freely. Where the car changed street design from dense population cores with interdispersed parks and meeting places to street arteries and major roads to quickly exit the city, smart phones seem to have reversed
 this trend. Interesting!

 street design

 Key Quotes:

“The world's cities are absorbing one million additional people every week—and by 2030, they could consume an extra 1.5 million square kilometers of land, or roughly the area of France, Germany and Spain combined.”

 “streets with greater connectivity tend to have higher traffic flows”

“Correlational studies have suggested that street patterns may impact local economies, physical activity levels, public transportation use, crime rates and social inequality”

“The new ability to carry your social life around with you, enabling instant connections regardless of physical location, has the potential to reconfigure how we think about time and mobility, and in turn how we build environments to suit our travel behavior. “

“Communication is predicated on finding space for interaction, with the growth of any particular place dependent upon how many exchanges can be successfully conducted by an ever increasing amount of people. Historically, the street – functioning within a larger street network - has acted as that space”

“cities and towns are naturally composed of two distinct spheres, exchange space and movement space. (1993) Exchange space naturally consists of nodes where interaction is fostered, such as public squares, bazaars, street corners and intersections, or the street itself. Movement space – roads or thoroughfares meant to connect points on the map– has served a secondary function allowing for the further flow of people, goods and information between disparate places.”

“Smartphone use demands a spatial configuration that allows the user to move throughout an environment while seamlessly and continually being engaged in communicative acts.”

 “location is becoming central to the demographic cohort – the 18-to-34 year olds trading cars for smartphones in The Economist study – that are shifting towards cities and towns that exhibit the form of traditional street networks and space, where the human scale of the individual … represent the basic unit of design.”

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