Man, Location, and Behavior: An Introduction to Human Geography

By Kevin R. Cox | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
Communication Networks: Locational Forces and Locational Effects

THE PROBLEMS

Chapter Eight reviewed the various structural characteristics of communication networks and identified some of their more important correlates. We found, for example, that denser communication networks tended to be associated with more developed rather than less developed nations; and that the angle of branching for two links in a communication net tends to be greater for the link carrying the smaller volume of goods, passengers, or whatever. Why exactly do we find associations such as these? This is the first problem confronted in this chapter.

Networks, however, are not only effects; they are also causally linked to a variety of other locational patterns. Networks and the geographical evolution of networks revolutionize accessibility relationships and alter the movement costs according to which many locational decisions are made. Not only that, but the locational patterns produced by networks feed back to affect the further geographical development of the network. The problem of the locational effects of networks is discussed in the second half of this chapter.

Before considering the various forces affecting the location of railroads, of highways, of airline routes, etc., consider first the functions of a communications network. The network is developed presumably in response to some demand for movement between a variety of places: movements of commuters, tourists, goods, electricity, oil, etc. To move items or people over space requires a means of locomotion and, as a very frequent addition, a specialized track or terminal facility such as are represented by a railroad and an airport, respectively. Hence, given a set of places between which movement is required, two questions arise: first, what type of facility should be provided? Should it be a highway or a railroad, for example? Second, there is the question of where that facility should be located. The major factors affecting the solution of these two problems are economic and political. Each of these is considered below.


THE ECONOMICS OF ROUTE CONSTRUCTION

The design of a communication network is preceded by the identification of those places between which movement is required. Such requirements may be estimated by some sort of travel survey or they may be predicted by some sort of gravity model formulation. In the light of gravity model formulations and empirical findings, for example, it seems rea

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