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Professor Peter Nijkamp, Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands

Digital environments and ‘real world’ geographies

Abstract: Although geographers early on expressed an interest in the territorial representation of the digital revolution, this interest has not yet been accompanied by an extensive modeling effort. From the early stages, research questions related to the emerging information society were part of geographers’ research agenda. And lately, regardless of the so-called seamless expansion of ICTs, geographers still raise questions about the digital economy. However, what geographers and spatial scientists have not yet done at large is to take advantage of the richness of data produced due to the continuously increased usage of digital means in order to quantify real and digital geographic phenomena. The high penetration of ICTs in human interactions results in the production of vast amount of data, apart of course from extensive societal changes. Indeed, we are moving towards an era when a common problem among researchers is not the lack of relevant data, but rather the over-supply of digitally gathered data concerning all different aspects of society. And, in order to tackle these issues, fields such as data mining are becoming increasingly important. Two questions are emerging: why should geographers be interested in these developments and what is the role of quantitative geography in a world where virtual interactions could potentially be of similar importance to physical ones? To briefly answer these questions, the above generate opportunities for the research community as digital data can be used not only for studying digital phenomena, but can also be utilized for revisiting traditional geographic questions from a modeling stand point. Such research questions cover a wide range of research themes at different scales: from behavioral studies to transportation management and from communications to economic geography. To illustrate the above, two examples will be analyzed here: the use of mobile phone data in urban geography and the role of physical distance in Internet communications

Biography: Professor Dr. Peter Nijkamp (born 1946 in Dalfsen, Overijssel) is the professor of Regional Economics and Economic Geography at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, a fellow of the Tinbergen Institute and President of the Governing Board of the Netherlands Research Council (NWO). He holds an MSc (1970) in Econometrics and Regional Economics and a PhD (1972) in Regional Economics, both from the Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Peter Nijkamp is ranked among the best 100 economists in the world according to IDEAS/RePEc, and is by far the most prolific economist. He is a fellow of many societies, is on the editorial board of many journals, and has served on numerous national and international committees. He is an advisor to government of the Netherlands, the European Commission, the World Bank, Academia Sinica, the OECD, and many other bodies. He has honorary doctorates from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the National Technical University of Athens. He is a winner of the Spinozapremie (1996), the European Prize in Regional Science, and Founder's Medal of the Regional Science Association International.

His books include Social Change and Sustainable Transport (with William Black, 2002, Indiana University Press), Public Facilities Planning (with Lili Kiminami and Kenneth Button, 2007, Edward Elgar) and Spatial Dynamics, Networks and Modelling (with Aura Reggiani, 2006, Edward Elgar). His journal papers include Second-best congestion pricing: The case of an untolled alternative (with Eric Verhoef and Piet Rietveld, 1996, Journal of Urban Economics), Qualitative multicriteria analysis for environmental management (with Guiseppi Munda and Piet Rietveld, 1994, Ecological Economics), and Price and income elasticities in residential water demand (with Jasper Dalhuisen, Raymond Florax and Henri de Groot, 2003, Land Economics).

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