Shaped by human movement, place connectivity is quantified by the strength of spatial interactions among locations. For decades, spatial scientists have researched place connectivity, applications, and metrics. The growing popularity of social media provides a new data stream where spatial social interaction measures are largely devoid of privacy issues, easily assessable, and harmonized. In this study, we introduced a place connectivity index (PCI) based on spatial interactions among places revealed by geotagged tweets as a multiscale, spatiotemporal-continuous, and easy-to-implement measurement. The proposed PCI, established and demonstrated at the US county level, exhibits a strong positive association with SafeGraph population movement records (10% penetration in the US population) and Facebook’s social connectedness index (SCI), a popular connectivity index based on social networks. We found that PCI has a strong state boundary effect and that it generally follows the distance decay effect, although this force is weaker in more urbanized counties with a denser population. Our investigation further suggests that PCI has great potential in addressing real-world problems that require place connectivity knowledge, exemplified with two applications: 1) modeling the spatial spread of a contagious disease (e.g., COVID-19), and 2) modeling hurricane evacuation destination choices. The methodological and contextual knowledge of PCI, together with the launched visualization platform and data sharing capability, is expected to support research fields requiring knowledge in human spatial interactions.
The interactive web portal for visualizing the PCI and relevant datasets can be accessed at http://gis.cas.sc.edu/GeoAnalytics/pci.html.
Download PCI and relevant datasets at https://github.com/GIBDUSC/Place-Connectivity-Index
Figure below shows the interactive web portal for PCI visualization. The map shows the PCI for Cook County (Chicago), Illinois, to all other counties.
PCI from England, UK to other world first-level subdivisions.