Connected Cities

Although the first day of summer is not officially until June 21 in the US, many American’s consider the season to have begun  yesterday with Memorial Day.  For the writers here at Encountering Urbanization this summer also is a time of transition, travels and international moves as many of us just graduated (hence our recent  hiatus from blogging)  and are now preparing for the next steps in our careers.   Even with all of these upcoming changes we are very excited to continue writing about the experience of urbanization from our new positions across the globe while also working with some new writers based at NYU Wagner’s graduate urban planning program.

With all of this moving in mind I can’t help but think about how connected our cities are becoming across the world.  From literal connections of passenger and cargo flights, to virtual connections based on internet communication, we are all aware of how much easier it is to conduct business abroad today as opposed to a few decades ago.  Below are a series of visualizations that focus on these connections.

Examining direct flights between cities is one of the most literal ways to visualization how connected we are becoming.   I created this graphic (click to enlarge) for the Rudin Center for Transportation at NYU, to display the top ten most traveled international passenger routes in the world.   Considering the density of East and South East Asia it is not surprising to see where the majority of these flights are concentrated.

Of course the internet has also brought cities closer together through more efficient communication.  Bestiario in Barcelona presents an interactive graphic of the  informational distances between cities, by representing the strengths of the relations between cities based on searches in Google.  This “informational distance” is calculated by a formula that measures how many times the names two cities appear on similar webpages.

Chris Harrison’s Internet Map, shows a more literal representation of how the internet connects cities.  Here is his description of the work:

Using their most recent data at the time (Feb 2007), I created a set of visualizations that display how cities across the globe are interconnected (by router configuration and not physical backbone)… it is important to note that this only reflects density of connections, and not usage – hundreds of people may utilize a single connection in an internet cafe, often the only form of connectivity people have access to in developing nations.

As he mentions it is impossible to truly count how many people are connected in each city since many people share the same internet connection.  Despite this the visualization is still striking, with most of the concentration in the US and Europe.

Besides measuring how often people travel to cities abroad and the volume of internet communication between cities, I can’t help but also look at where people actually choose to move abroad. Good created the following graphic to answer the question: Where do young educated people move?  Even though this infograph examines countries and not specific cities, it does display how mobile young people are, and thus how much more connected our cities must be.  Also the top choice to relocate or the “Haven for the Young and Educated” happens to be a city-state: Singapore.

As we continue to study and work in cities across the globe we are excited about the evolution of this blog as we continue to contribute to the conversation about the experiment and experience of urbanization.

– Melissa

Photo Credits: All linked to sources except the aviation data, created by the author.


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