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U of MNUniversity of Minnesota
Center for Transportation Studies

The Role of Social Networks and ICT on Destination Choice - FY08 TechPlan

Principal Investigator:

David Levinson, Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project Summary:

The extent to which social networks and information and communication technologies (ICT) affect destination location is an area that is gaining more focus. This research project investigated the impact of traditional social networks and ICT on travelers' destination choices. The research focused on two areas of interest: 1) the role that social networks and communication technologies play in establishing individuals in long-term arrangements such as finding their work; and 2) the role that social networks play in day-to-day activities that individuals choose to engage in outside of work. This study aimed to advance the researchers' understanding of the role of social networks in everyday travel decisions by examining how people identified their current job, the physical locations of their social activity destinations, and the social networks, and the communication technologies they adopted to mediate these long-term and short-term decisions. A two-phase survey was designed and administered to over 500 participants. In addition to data on work-finding mechanisms, detailed data on travel for different social activities was collected, including precise activity location, time, and purpose, as well as relationship and individual characteristics. The final report explores the roles of social networks in work finding, residential location choice, and choices of meeting locations, and attempts to understand the behavior of social travel and develop models that incorporate important elements of social networks and ICT for different trip purposes. It also reviews how job search methods can impact home and work location patterns at the aggregate level, and investigates the role job search methods and their outcomes play in subsequent relocation and residential location decisions at the individual level.

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