Analysis of urban agglomeration structure through spatial network and mobile phone data

Xintao Liu, Jianwei Huang, Jianhui Lai, Junwei Zhang, Ahmad M. Senousi, Pengxiang Zhao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Urban agglomeration is an important strategy used to promote economic development and urbanization in China. Understanding the structure of urban agglomeration is therefore essential for policy-makers and planners. In this study, the Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei urban agglomeration (BTHUG) is explored through a proposed spatial network analytical framework and a large mobile phone data set (over 20 million users). We first construct a weight-directed spatial interaction network based on an origin–destination matrix derived from the data set. Several network metrics (i.e., degree, strength, the rich-club coefficient, and the assortativity coefficient) and three selected community detection algorithms (i.e., Infomap, Louvain, and Regionalization) are applied and compared to reveal the structure of the BTHUG. A four-level hierarchical structure is defined and observed: one global center, two local centers, major cities that have low mobility flow but strong linkages with the three centers, and peripheral cities that have low mobility flow and weak linkages with the three centers. In particular, the results imply that the spatial structure of the BTHUG is over-dependent on the global center (i.e., Beijing and northern Langfang). Further, ignoring spatial interaction patterns in top-down administrative planning for urban agglomeration may lead to ineffective integrated development. The implications for BTHUG planning are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1949-1969
Number of pages21
JournalTransactions in GIS
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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