New MIT Data Analysis Tool Aims To Rationalize Planning

Andres Sevstuk, lecturer at MIT and head of the City Form Research Group describes how the new Urban Network Analysis toolbox is "taking a much more rigorous approach to look at the work of urban design."
October 4, 2011, 12pm PDT | George Haugh
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Sevstuk claims that his new data analysis package examines how the form of a city affects the life that goes on in it. The software analyzes attributes of various locations to measure their "reach," how many jobs, or residences are accessible when traveling by the street network; or "betweeness," a measure that can estimate the volume of foot traffic an area receives.

The program has already provided some counter intuitive insights. In a restaurant-dense area like Inman Square, the presence of competitors works to businesses' advantage: "The idea there is by forming a cluster, they manage to attract a much larger clientele than the sum of each one alone,'' he said.

Such tools can also give planners a better handle on how to rationally fix cities.

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Published on Monday, October 3, 2011 in The Boston Globe
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