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Can you really predict community cohesion with a road atlas?

20 May 2014


Using new spatial Network Design Analysis (sDNA) software, developed by researchers at the Sustainable Places Research Institute, a new study has explored the impact of transport networks and local connectivity, on community cohesion.

There is now a substantial body of research suggesting that social cohesion, a collective characteristic measured by the levels of trust, reciprocity and formation of strong social bonds within communities, is an important factor in determining health. Of particular interest is the extent to which factors in the built environment facilitate, or impede, the development of social bonds.

In the current study researchers tested a number of characteristics of spatial networks which could be hypothesized to relate either to severance (a characteristic of physical environments which is hypothesized to inhibit cohesion), or directly to community cohesion.

The results show that those communities with greater intrinsic navigability were more likely to have increased cohesion and demonstrated formation of stronger social bonds, an important factor in determining health.Read the paper in full

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