Cities, Regions and Internet Infrastructure in Europe
New Horizons in Regional Science series
Chapter 5: Internet backbone and aviation networks: a comparative study
This chapter compares the topology and the derived urban geographies of two infrastructural networks: the Internet backbone and the aviation network across European cities. While the latter consists of the international intercity aviation links, the former consists of the long-haul Internet Protocol (IP) links, which connect long-distance destinations and are responsible for the global character of the Internet (Malecki 2004). This analysis aims to explore how these networks are developed across European cities, understand their different topologies and compare the way the Internet backbone and the aviation networks interconnect the nodes of the European urban network. This topological exercise can feed a European urban geography discussion by providing insights to the different roles European cities perform in these networks. As Derudder et al. (2007) highlight, cities can derive functional centrality due to their roles in infrastructural networks. Such a comparative analysis is crucial for this book, the main focus of which is the geography of the Internet infrastructure, for various reasons. Firstly, from an economic geography standpoint, both the Internet (Malecki 2002a) and the aviation network (Graham 1998) facilitate the knowledge-based economy (OECD 1996): while the Internet transports the informational goods (O’Kelly and Grubesic 2002), the aviation network transports the main actors of the knowledge economy, the people who form the managerial elites (Castells 1996; Beaverstock 2002), across the distributed centers of production and consumption in order to interact and acquire complex and tacit knowledge (Rimmer 1998).
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