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Ranking spaces for predicting human movement in an urban environment

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A city can be topologically represented as a connectivity graph, consisting of nodes representing individual spaces and links if the corresponding spaces are intersected. It turns out in the space syntax literature that some defined topological metrics can capture human movement rates in individual spaces. In other words, the topological metrics are significantly correlated to human movement rates, and individual spaces can be ranked by the metrics for predicting human movement. However, this correlation has never been well justified. In this paper, we study the same issue by applying the weighted PageRank algorithm to the connectivity graph or space-space topology for ranking the individual spaces, and find surprisingly that: (1) the PageRank scores are better correlated to human movement rates than the space syntax metrics, and (2) the underlying space-space topology demonstrates small world and scale free properties. The findings provide a novel justification as to why space syntax, or topological analysis in general, can be used to predict human movement. We further conjecture that this kind of analysis is no more than predicting a drunkard's walking on a small world and scale free network.

Keywords: Human movement; PageRank; Scale free; Small world; Space syntax; Topological analysis of networks

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Technology and Built Environment, University of Gavle, 76 Gavle, Sweden

Publication date: 2009-07-01

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