Spatial Analysis

Group Lead: 
Scott Orford

The Spatial Analysis group undertakes both pure and applied research combining substantive interests in planning and geography with quantitative analytical and computational methods. Many of the research questions of interest have a strong methodological dimension and the group has developed rigorous methodological approaches using computer based and statistical models for spatial and network analysis, visualization, mapping, Geographical Information Systems and data integration. Substantive interests cover socio-economic processes such as population and land use, urban morphology, transport, health, education, housing and local services, as well as more general aspects of information use in urban, regional and rural policy-making both nationally and internationally.

Methods of Spatial Analysis and Planning

Many of the research questions of interest to members of the group have a strong methodological dimension. This is the forte of the Spatial Analysis Research Group at Cardiff - answering substantial research questions (theoretical and practical) using rigorous methodological approaches. In recent years, members of the group have made important methodological contributions in the following fields:

  • new ways of undertaking network analysis, such as space syntax;
  • statistical models of accessibility, deprivation, service demand and need;
  • dynamic models of induced traffic demand; 
  • measuring morphological regularity and pattern in cities;
  • simulating the evolution of cities under alternative regulatory regimes;
  • simulating the co-evolution of urban form and institutions (informal neighbourhood agreements);
  • statistical models of stated preference in neighbourhood choice;
  • statistical models of the housing market including local externalities, morphology and urban form;
  • statistical analysis of access to planned and unplanned green and open spaces;
  • statistical models of urban morphology and its relation to health and well-being;
  • methods of quantitative and qualitative data integration including spatial and non-spatial meta data development;
  • web-based tools for the search, discovery and visualization of secondary data.

Progressing Priority Research Areas, Themes and Projects

Research questions addressed include the following: How do we model suppressed and induced traffic demand? How do we assess the benefits of highway investment under alterative pricing regimes? What are the impacts of travel demand from tourism and commuting and how does this vary internationally? What are the effects of road pricing and to what extent does it achieve a modal shift within cities? How can we measure the financial costs and benefits of locational externalities within cities? How does the shape and structure of a city affect its inhabitants health and well-being?

Governance and Planning
Research questions addressed include the following: What innovations can be discovered as we share experiences in the way cities around the world organise and finance public goods? What are the implications of proprietary forms of residential development (gated communities) for urban spatial, social and economic structure? Are there optimal levels of exclusion (from congested resources) consistent with a sustainable city? How do cities evolve under different governance regimes and how can these be modelled? What conceptual tools does the new institutional economics offer the economic geographical theory of cities?

Social Inclusion
Research questions addressed include the following: Social and spatial differentiation within cities and the importance of residential neighbourhood choice and housing market dynamics; the social and spatial effects on voter turnout through time; the factors that affect access to green spaces in arid cities and their differential impact across the population; the creation and use of unplanned open spaces for social, economic and cultural activities in urban areas; the change of health inequalities over time, access to health services, health systems analysis, allocation of resources to health services; the evolution of property rights in cities and the enclosure of the urban commons; the growth of Chinese housing market differentiation and the importance of urban morphology and accessibility on house prices and urban inequality and poverty.

Data Integration and Visualization
Research questions addressed include the following; How can European directives such as INSPIRE and the UK Government’s open data initiative help us discover and share the wealth of data that exists for cities and regions so as to inform academic and policy research?; how can data that has been collected for a variety of spatial, temporal and thematic units of analysis be integrated in meaningful ways?; how can we unlock the geospatial potential of qualitative data records for use in spatial analysis research, for instance through Qualitative GIS?; how can we integrate quantitative and qualitative data records to facilitate mixed methods research?; how can we visualize meta-data to help us understand and use it effectively? How can we visualize large and complex datasets to help us uncover and understand the spatial and temporal patterns that exist within them?