How does human mobility affect urban segregation and environmental injustice? A spatiotemporal approach

Authors: Yoo Min Park*, Geography & GIS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Mei-Po Kwan, Geography & GIS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Topics: Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Urban Geography
Keywords: fine-scale spatiotemporal approaches; GIS; geospatial data; human mobility; urban inequalities; multi-contextual segregation; environmental justice; health disparities
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Marshall West, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This study aims to advance an understanding of the effect of racial/ethnic segregation on environmental injustice by incorporating human mobility into conceptual and analytical frameworks. It argues that a residential neighborhood does not fully represent the true geographic context in which people experience segregation and unequal exposure to air pollution because people move around in urban areas over the course of a day. Using a new fine-grained spatiotemporal method alongside individual-level travel pattern data, I visually and quantitatively examine whether people experience varying levels of segregation at different activity locations (e.g., home, workplace, and social/recreational venues) and, if so, how such dynamic segregation affects the disparities in exposure to air pollution. This mobility-based approach addresses several methodological problems that may have undermined the reliability of the findings of previous residence-based studies (e.g., the uncertain geographic context problem; and modifiable areal unit problem). The results reveal that the limited daily mobility of African Americans in the Atlanta metropolitan area entraps them in highly polluted areas both during the daytime and at night. In contrast, with greater segregation, which white people experience at higher levels at home, the workplace, and grocery stores, people are exposed to less air pollution. The findings suggest that it may be beneficial to develop policies for improving public transportation systems so that minority groups could travel diverse parts of urban areas that are less polluted than their residential neighborhood.

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