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Network Density Estimation: A GIS Approach for Analysing Point Patterns in a Network Space

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Human activities and more generally the phenomena related to human behaviour take place in a network-constrained subset of the geographical space. These phenomena can be expressed as locations having their positions configured by a road network, as address points with street numbers. Although these events are considered as points on a network, point pattern analysis and the techniques implemented in a GIS environment generally consider events as taking place in a uniform space, with distance expressed as Euclidean and over a homogeneous and isotropic space. Network-spatial analysis has developed as a research agenda where the attention is drawn towards point pattern analytical techniques applied to a space constrained by a road network. Little attention has been put on first order properties of a point pattern (i.e. density) in a network space, while mainly second order analysis such as nearest neighbour and K-functions have been implemented for network configurations of the geographical space. In this article, a method for examining clusters of human-related events on a network, called Network Density Estimation (NDE), is implemented using spatial statistical tools and GIS packages. The method is presented and compared to conventional first order spatial analytical techniques such as Kernel Density Estimation (KDE). Network Density Estimation is tested using the locations of a sample of central, urban activities associated with bank and insurance company branches in the central areas of two midsize European cities, Trieste (Italy) and Swindon (UK).
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Keywords: Kernel Density Estimation; Network Density Estimation; Network Spatial Analysis; Point pattern analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geographical and Historical Science University of Trieste

Publication date: 01 June 2008

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