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Future urbanization patterns: in the Netherlands under the influence of information and communication technologies

By S. Muhammad


Computer-based Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are revolutionary in that they change the meaning of distance and accessibility in society. People can now access opportunities (jobs, shopping, education, recreation etc.) in virtual space in a matter of seconds, which in physical space would have needed hours of travelling. But still due to the nature of opportunities and human need to have face to face contact, majority of the opportunities are being accessed in physical space. Hence there is now hybrid space, where physical and virtual spaces are interwoven. In this hybrid space nature of opportunities, skills and capabilities of the opportunity seekers become even more important than those were in physical space alone. People having ICTs skills, by telecommuting will have the possibilities to have access to a wider range of opportunities. In practice it was found that telecommuters still commute in physical space as well but with a lesser frequency than regular commuters. This overall saved commute time by lower number of commuting trips makes it possible for telecommuters to commute longer distances. This reduced friction of distance, between workplaces and homes by telecommuting, is expected to have profound effects on future urbanization patterns. These impacts of the use of ICTs are extensively discussed in the literature, but still lack sufficient empirical underpinning. The Netherlands is a small country in geographical context, but with a larger share of the working people telecommuting than the EU average and in the USA. It therefore is a good laboratory to explore the spatial impacts of telecommuting. The focus in this study is the spatial impact of telecommuting on job accessibility which influences residential land-use suitability surfaces. These changes can be expected to influence residential location preferences and resulting pattern of new residential land-use when telecommuting really takes off. Scenario-based projections of likely locations of new residential land-use have been made with a dedicated hybrid model that combines cellular automata, accessibility modelling, and regular GIS analysis methods. Analyses and modelling of telecommuting consequences for the Netherlands reveals that ICTs enhance job accessibility which will further widen residential location margins for telecommuters, as telecommuters are more likely to prefer their future residence located in a green urban environment and a regional town compared to other types of residential environmental settings. Spatial pattern analyses of future residential areas revealed that a strengthening of existing agglomerations continue, but in the meanwhile dispersed deconcentration to attractive regions beyond present spatial labour market borders is also observed. This will influence the processes of concentrated suburbanization and poly-centric urban development that have a long tradition in Dutch spatial policies and developments. Although, the urban deconcentration may get a new boost, but the effects will work out differently at the regional level. For example, the dominant urban-economic position of Randstad (the comprising of four major cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, in the western part of the Netherlands) will hardly erode. The northern and south-western part of the country will become even more peripheral. The areas next to Randstad due to the improved job accessibility in hybrid space and having attractive green environment will benefit the most. These empirical insights into possible future urbanization trends under the influence of ICTs are useful for researchers, urban and regional planners and policy makers. They can support the formulation of the future spatial land-use policies

Topics: Earth Sciences, ICTs, Physical Space, Virtual Space, Hybrid Space, Telecommuting, Job Accessibility, Urbanization
Year: 2007
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