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Accessibility in a Post-Apartheid City: Comparison of Two Approaches for Accessibility Computations

Ziemke, Dominik; Joubert, Johan W.; Nagel, Kai

Many authors argue that issues related to interpretability, lack of data availability, and limited applicability in terms of policy analysis have hindered a more widespread use of accessibility indicators. Aiming to address these aspects, this paper presents two accessibility computation approaches applied to Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa. The first approach, a household-based accessibility indicator, is designed to account for the high diversity both among the South African society and in terms of settlement patterns. Besides OpenStreetMap (OSM) as its main data source, this indicator uses a census and a travel survey to create a synthetic population of the study area. Accessibilities are computed based on people's daily activity chains. The second approach, an econometric accessibility indicator, relies exclusively on OSM and computes the accessibility of a given location as the weighted sum over the utilities of all opportunities reachable from that location including the costs of overcoming the distance. Neither a synthetic population nor travel information is used. It is found that the econometric indicator, although associated with much lower input data requirements, yields the same quality of insights regarding the identification of areas with low levels of accessibility. It also possesses advantages in terms of interpretability and policy sensitivity. In particular, its exclusive reliance on standardized and freely available input data and its easy portability are a novelty that can support the more widespread application of accessibility measures.
Published in: Networks and Spatial Economics, 10.1007/s11067-017-9360-3, Springer