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Durham University

Research & business

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Multispeed Cities and the Logistics of Living in an Information Age

A research project of the Department of Geography.


  • The overall aim of the project is to investigate how ITCs affect social inclusion and exclusion
  • To assess the effect of combinations of multiple information technologies on soical polarisation
  • Whether synergies between technologies have multiplier effects on the logistics of daily life
  • How ITCs intersect with time-space rountines in the city
  • Whether information rich communities are enabled to compress more activities into their time while information poor ones are made to expend more time in accomplishing the same tasks


The research compares two neighbourhoods in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, one in bottom hundred most deprived wards in the country, the other in affluent 20%. The project will use a questionnaire to establish baseline figures of local ICT usage then a mix of in-depth interviews, focus groups and space-time diaries to examine how technologies combine with everyday actions. Also the sorts of activities enable by using and not using ITCs. The time use and spatial range of a variety of actions will thus be examined. Four domains of activities will be focused upon - financiers, training and education, households provsionning and community engagement. These will enable the project to examine social exculsion and 'time squeeze'?


  • Measures of the “digital divide” based on ICT ownership are inadequate to depict the complex patterns of use and access to a variety of technologies. For example, respondents in the poorer area may not have had access to, say, the Internet nor used online services, but they often relied on neighbours, family or friends to provide access. ICT use is often more collective and collaborative, beyond the household level, which suggests some caution over widely used official, individualistic measures
  • In the richer area ICTs formed pervasive infrastructures underpinning everyday life, to such an extent that respondents could not say when they specifically used a technology because it was on all the time. In the poorer area, ICT use tended to be for specific purposes, which were recalled as discrete events marked out by their use of advanced technology
  • Research on ICTs can profitably use a conceptual framework which emphasises the way in which interactions that do and do not use ICTs inter-relate to shape the detail of subjects’ everyday life. Such an approach allows research to address the ways in which multiple ICTs are used simultaneously and in subtle and continuous combination
  • The relaxing of restrictions imposed by time and space that ICTs can give offers new possibilities for structuring the rhythms of daily life. Crucially, this leads not to a disembedding from local life but to forging new interactions within cities. This means researchers can explore how ICTs are involved in the remaking of multiple times and spaces within cities

Other Findings

  • By having ICTs as an “always on” background, affluent and ICT literate groups benefitted from accelerating lifestyles and mobility patterns and are enabled to cram extremely dense and flexible patterns of transaction, communication and information exchange into the logistical framework of their lives
  • ICT use in the more marginalized neighbourhood tended to offer occasional support to existing patterns of everyday life

Published Results

Journal Article

  • Crang, M., Crosbie, T. & Graham, S.D.N. (2007). Technology, timespace and the remediation of neighbourhood life. Environment and Planning A 39(10): 2405-2422.
  • Crang, M., Graham, S.D.N. & Crosbie, T. (2006). Variable geometries of connection: Urban digital divides and the uses of Information Technology. Urban Studies 43(13): 2551-2570.


From the Department of Geography

Related links

Further information

For further information, please contact Professor Mike Crang.