A map of how long it takes to get to a city from anywhere on Earth


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/01/10/a-map-of-how-long-it-takes-to.html


Anyone have access to what the project considers to be a city? I’m less than an hour from Honolulu, but no Hawaiian island is less than 4-5 hours from the US mainland, which skews the results. Perth is another isolated population center that comes to mind.


Came here to ask the same question. My (unfounded) guess would be a certain level of population density, as I can’t think of anything else that wouldn’t involve some level of subjectivity.


a contiguous area with 1,500 or more inhabitants per square kilometer or a majority of built-up land cover coincident with a population centre of at least 50,000 inhabitants

Air travel is not considered.


The headline is a bit confusing, @pesco . The map isn’t showing how long it takes to get to a city “from anywhere on Earth” (it doesn’t take an hour to travel from NYC to Tokyo) but how accessible a city is to the surrounding population by road or rail infrastructure (the amount and quality of which has an effect).

For example, there are a lot of people living in the suburbs and exurbs around Sydney, Australia, so it would take someone living in one an hour or less to get into the city centre by car or train over OECD-quality infrastructure. Someone living in the outback would require a day or more to get there or anywhere else on the continent.

I assume they made this map to show how difficult it is for people in remote areas and in poor countries with bad infrastructure to get treatment for malaria or another disease at a major medical centre in a timely manner.


Interesting but the spectrum of the map is still kind of loose or vague-- I don’t think a lot of areas in the remote desert or tundra are realistically only a single days travel to a city, unless you’re talking 24-hours of non-stop driving, and in a lot of those places the travel time will be dependent on weather conditions or season. And in the US you can get to a big city fast on any freeway in the middle of the night while it would take a lot longer during rush-hour.


Apparently time-of-day and weather aren’t factored in. I’m 20 miles from a major American city. During rush hours no highway route will make it in less than an hour. Add snow and the commute is Siberian.


So, the Amazon is remote. Who knew?


I would guess that is the reason. The headline made me think it was related to how fast disease would travel rather than how hard it was for the diseased to get to resources.


From the paper:
“The Global Human Settlement Grid of high-density land cover (GHS-HDC) was used to represent cities for this research.”

“In this study, we operationalize accessibility in terms of travel time required to reach the nearest urban centre, defined as a contiguous area with 1,500 or more inhabitants per square kilometer or a majority of built-up land cover coincident with a population centre of at least 50,000 inhabitants.”

So that’s what they say they did: “city” = 50000 in a built-up area or 1500/km^2, according to the GHS-HDC.

But something’s wonky either with the GHS data or with that low-res image (it’s the same one available in the paper, and I can’t find a link to a better one.) A quick assessment of bright yellow spots would suggest that there are four cities in Alberta and none in British Columbia.


Imagine an interactive version of this where you could pick any place in the world, and it would color code the entire world with travel times from the starting location.


Also, a heat map of the next global pandemic.


And they even have same-day delivery now, this map can’t be right!


Surprising how much of India is “yellow”, compared to, say, China or South America.


I was going to say the same thing, it’s fascinating that India is so “accessible” though i’m unsure what that really translates to.


My guess would be a lot of “high-capacity” railway accessible to rural hinterlands, combined with the fact that one is never too far from a large city with a major hospital there.


They had to find some way to account for some of the oddities in what counts as a city in Britain.

Also Carlisle (Britain’s biggest city by area), which only has something like 11 people per km^2, but the urban area is much denser and has a population of 75,000


Apparently Glasgow doesn’t count as a city, or even as habitable land. There’s just a big bite mark where the west of Scotland should be. Ditto the north west of Ireland.


mid-term sea level projection?


I think this train would be classified as a city under the methodology of this study.