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Urban Dynamics Lab

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Remapping the UK's functional regions

Currently regions used for economic statistics are defined by administrative boundaries. Functional regions based on analysis of travel to work patterns have been shown to give a much better account of UK economic geography. New city definitions from the Mechanicity project show how stocks and flows of materials, people, information and energy over infrastructure networks can be used to remap functional regions of any town or city. It will build upon UCL collaborative work with the Office for National Statistics in creating the 2011 Output Area Classification, and extend related work undertaken for the GLA for the Greater London area.

Our work on this project will focus on defining cities and measuring their performance on a range of social and economic attributes. This will be explored through graph theoretic partitions of cities and examine different kinds of interactions - adding flows to the networks and exploring different kinds of network decompositions, and integrated with new measures of income and related social, economic and physical attributes of the chosen urban systems. 

Addressing current developments in devolution, city and regional policy around the 'Northern Powerhouse' and the 'Midlands Engine', we will also consider the notion of regions of cities as well as city regions.

Part of our aim is to produce a reasonably definitive measure of city performance and potentially extending this kind of analysis to temporal dynamics.  

Our work will investigate the long-term and short-term interactions between UK regions, notably the origin and destination of both domestic and international migrants. The degree to which regional populations have remained stable over time or have become very heterogeneous may be compared to other economic and physical aspects of agglomeration, such as land values, transport networks and daily travel destinations. Our geo-temporal toolkit will constitute a resource in re-mapping the UK's regions based on various functional characteristics.