Regional Development and Proximity Relations
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Regional Development and Proximity Relations

Edited by André Torre and Frédéric Wallet

The notion of proximity is increasing in popularity in economic and geographic literature, and is now commonly used by scholars in regional science and spatial economics. Few academic works, however, have explored the link between regional development and proximity relations. This comprehensive book redresses the balance with its assessment of the role of, and obstacles caused by, proximity relations in regional development processes.
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Chapter 8: Digital infrastructure and physical proximity

Emmanouil Tranos and Peter Nijkamp


Some 2000 years ago, the average annual distance a person would normally travel, was approximately 500 km. The action radius of most people remained rather stable, but it rose gradually after the Industrial Revolution to some 1820 km (by car, bus, railway or aircraft) in the year 1960. Then, a period of rapid increase started, with almost 4390 km per year in 1990. Clearly, air transport, but also technological advances and changing lifestyles formed the background of this megatrend (see Chaturin, 1988; Schafer 1988). Accessibility and proximity have become keywords in understanding the geographical pattern of the 'homo mobilis'. The emerging question is if and how this pattern of physical movement will be affected by the digital revolution. Virtual connectivity through cyberspace has been a source of further unprecedented rise in the action radius of modern man. There is an increasing awareness that cyberspace and physical space are not substitutes. On the contrary these two domains are related with a complex relation, with cyber-place (CP) being the intermediate layer. The latter is essentially an integral part of Batty's (1997) concept of virtual geography, which is identified as the projection of the infrastructural layer of cyberspace on traditional space. CP is defined in accordance with cyberspace, the function of which is supported by CP. Just like other elements of the Internet jargon such as the Internet superhighway, virtual communities, web-surfing, telecommuting, etc., CP and cyberspace are geographic metaphors.

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