Measurement and Analysis of Livability

The second chapter emphasized that livability is a spatial and temporal phenomenon. This chapter discusses some of the issues involved in measuring and analyzing livability, including how to measure place-based indicators. Place-based indicators (and indeed any place-based measurements) involve issues such as the effects of arbitrary geographic boundaries and units, the possibility of ecological fallacy, deciding when measurement should occur, reconciling incompatible data units, and considering spatial data in statistical methods.

Issues involved in measuring accessibility to opportunities and to resources are also discussed. Individual accessibility to opportunities and resources is a central component of livability. However, “accessibility” is a multifaceted concept involving some challenging measurement issues, for example, space-time accessibility measures. These measures derive from the time geographic perspective discussed in Chapter 2 and capture the effects of individual activity schedules on accessibility. Since daily and weekly activity schedules vary widely by socioeconomic variables such as class, life cycle, culture, and gender roles, space-time accessibility measures are sensitive to individual differences in accessibility. Space-time accessibility measures can support livability measures that take into account the varying access to resources and opportunities between social and demographic groups in a community. A case study in Box 3.1 describes the planning of a national monument area in southern Utah, which allowed diverse groups to access geospatial data that provided information needed to fully participate in the monument planning process.

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