The integrated city: Social Network and Travel Behoviour within the Urban Context

Hagiladi Naamah and Plaut Pnina

Recently the subject of ‘smart’ or ‘intelligent’ city leads one of the directions within the sustainability agenda. The term refers to the use of intelligent information and communication systems to allow for a more innovative environment. In such an environment, the role of smart, integrated transport becomes important; however it is not yet fully understood, how the triangle of social network, transport means and intelligent communication and management systems may synchronize into one, and more importantly, how can we create a bottom up tool which enables predicting needs and locations of public transport nodes?

The first phase of the research identified knowledge gaps within the combined framework of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), Travel Behaviour, Social Networks and Spatial Configuration. The literature review has revealed that this combined research is in its infancy stage, as only several studies have been conducted thus far, all based on one theoretical framework, namely the “Network Individualism” of the sociologist Barry Wellman. According to Wellman, the modern society is on a verge of transformation, from a society centered upon local structures, such as villages and neighborhoods, to one rooted within the individual’s contacts. Based upon these views, all the conducted studies used the egocentric approach, namely asking respondents to link their individual social network with their travel behavior.

The proposed research offers a different approach, by linking both additional theories and a new data collecting method. Based upon Scott Feld’s Foci theory, individuals form their social network within social events, occurring at a certain place. It follows the research proposal to depict the social networks formed within local public places, rather than via individuals. The method which would be tested within this research amalgamate theories and methods developed by the Space Syntax lab, as well as upon questionnaires circulated at chosen public locations. In doing so the research aims to map social activities volumes in relation to their urban context and transport means.