Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 72 ›› Issue (4): 657-670.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201704008

• Spatial and Temporal Behavior and Cultural Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The impact of the uncertain geographic context on the space-time behavior analysis: A case study of Xining, China

Yiming TAN1(), Yanwei CHAI1(), Mei-Po KWAN2   

  1. 1. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    2. Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science, University of Illinois atUrbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL 61820, USA
  • Received:2016-08-26 Revised:2016-11-25 Online:2017-04-20 Published:2017-04-20
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41529101, No.41571144;Kunlun Scholar Project of Qinghai Province


The emerging technologies for collection and analysis of massive spatiotemporal databases have largely benefitted the innovation of urban studies, and enabled us to revisit the traditional constructs in terms of space-time behavior. On specific case is the uncertain geographic context problem (UGCoP) was proposed by Kwan (2012), which refers to the spatial uncertainty in the actual areas that exert contextual influences on the individuals being studied.
This research makes an attempt to address the multivariable analysis as well as the temporal variations in the research of UGCoP. Two inter-related questions are explored in this research: First, how the contextual effects on different aspects of individual behaviors (and their inter-relationships) may be affected by the delineation of geographic context. Second, how the uncertainty of geographic context is evident in terms of the day-to-day variations.
This exploration is based on an empirical study of activity-travel behavior in Xining, China. An activity-diary dataset collected in 2013 and including 1098 valid samples is applied. The research first delineates the contextual unit of the built environment variables in two different ways: one is merely based on the residential neighborhoods, and the other considers both residential neighborhoods and activity spaces. Then, the research testifies the hypothesis about the potential impact of uncertain geographic context on the space-time behavior analysis. Also, the results on the weekday and weekend are compared in order to testify the day-to-day variation. Based on ANOVA test, geo-visualization, and the structural equation modelling, the study yields several findings. First of all, the geographic context based on residential neighborhood may lead to misunderstanding results, such as overestimating the contextual effects of neighborhood areas, and underestimating those of other activity places. Secondly, the effects of geographic context on individual behaviors show significant differences between the weekday and weekend.
These results imply that expanding our analytical focus to human mobility will considerably enrich our understanding on geographic context. The findings reveal trends similar to those observed in Western cities. Overall, addressing themes like these calls for further application of the space-time behavior perspective in revisiting and re-conceptualizing the traditional constructs.

Key words: uncertain geographic context problem, space-time behavior, activity space, structural equation modelling, Xining