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Spatio-temporal analysis of micro economic activities in Rome reveals patterns of mixed-use urban evolution

Fiasconaro, Alessandro and Strano, Emanuele and Nicosia, Vincenzo and Porta, Sergio and Latora, Vito (2016) Spatio-temporal analysis of micro economic activities in Rome reveals patterns of mixed-use urban evolution. PLOS One, 11 (3). ISSN 1932-6203

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Understanding urban growth is one with understanding how society evolves to satisfy the needs of its individuals in sharing a common space and adapting to the territory. We propose here a quantitative analysis of the historical development of a large urban area by investigating the spatial distribution and the age of commercial activities in the whole city of Rome. We find that the age of activities of various categories presents a very interesting double exponential trend, with a transition possibly related to the longterm economical effects determined by the oil crisis of the Seventies. The diversification of commercial categories, studied through various measures of entropy, shows, among other interesting features, a saturating behaviour with the density of activities. Moreover, different couples of commercial categories exhibit over the years a tendency to attract in space. Our results demonstrate that the spatio-temporal distribution of commercial activities can provide important insights on the urbanisation processes at work, revealing specific and not trivial socio-economical dynamics, as the presence of crisis periods and expansion trends, and contributing to the characterisation of the maturity of urban areas.