Challenges for Europe and North America
Edited by Karst T. Geurs, Kevin J. Krizek and Aura Reggiani
Chapter 7: Accessibility to public service delivery: a combination of diff erent indicators
This chapter argues that a combination of place-based and person-based accessibility indicators can aid policy-makers to obtain a fuller picture of the accessibility of public service delivery. Building on earlier work (Neutens et al., 2010a, 2010b), this argument will be exemplified in a case study of the accessibility of government offices in the city of Ghent, Belgium. These government offices are municipal service centres that keep up-to-date records concerning identity, co-habitation, marriage, death, birth, and so on of dwellers. The case is particularly timely because local authorities are currently investigating how they can improve the quality and accessibility of their urban services within the framework of the ‘Loket en Onthaal’ (LEO) project. The structure of the chapter is as follows. The next section provides the necessary background for understanding the place-based and personbased approach to measuring accessibility. Section 7.3 introduces the indicators that will be used to evaluate the accessibility of government offices. Section 7.4 describes study area, data sources and assumptions and section 7.5 presents the results. The conclusions are given in section 7.6. Accessibility measurement from a place-based perspective has a long history. Various place-based indicators have been proposed over the last five decades. Generally, they share at least three elements (Hanson and Schwab, 1987; Kwan, 1999): (1) a reference location from which access to other locations is determined; (2) a set of urban opportunities; and (3) an impedance function to capture the physical separation between the reference location and the urban opportunities. For modelling purposes, geographical zones have been used as substitutes for individuals. These zones usually correspond to census tracts or postal code areas for which travel data have been gathered. The aggregated approach assumes that individuals are concentrated in the centroid of a zone and uses the zonal averages of their socio-economic characteristics. A drawback thereof is that the outcome of accessibility analyses depends to a certain extent on the arbitrary configuration and scaling of the zoning system. This is known as the modifiable areal unit problem (Kwan and Weber, 2008). Furthermore, the approach ignores intra-zonal differences in accessibility. In other words, an equal level of accessibility is attributed to all individuals within the same zone.
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