Population Accessibility to Cities

Population Accessibility to Cities thumbnail


This map of the global accessibility to cities is a dataset useful in a wide range of social scientific research endeavors, including those exploring beneficial aspects related to high accessibility such as increased wealth, educational attainment, and utilization of healthcare, as well as the negative aspects of high accessibility such as easing resource extraction and thus amplifying environmental degradation.

Just as Nighttime Lights shows areas of Earth that are less habitable are darker and less populated, this map too shows that as less hospitable conditions exist, the longer it takes to get to a city. For example, especially cold, dry, forested, and/or high altitude places are typically most also remote.

The Malaria Atlas Project, at the University of Oxford, UK, produced the global map of accessibility to cities for the year 2015. This map is a multi-year project to characterize travel time to cities using cutting-edge computational capacity available via Google Earth Engine, and is a collaboration with researchers at Google, the Joint Research Centre of the European Union, and the University of Twente, Netherlands.

Learn more about this map here.

Full Citation:

D.J. Weiss, A. Nelson, H.S. Gibson, W. Temperley, S. Peedell, A. Lieber, M. Hancher, E. Poyart, S. Belchior, N. Fullman, B. Mappin, U. Dalrymple, J. Rozier, T.C.D. Lucas, R.E. Howes, L.S. Tusting, S.Y. Kang, E. Cameron, D. Bisanzio, K.E. Battle, S. Bhatt, and P.W. Gething. A global map of travel time to cities to assess inequalities in accessibility in 2015. (2018). Nature. doi:10.1038/nature25181.

Notable Features

  • Especially cold, dry, forested,and/or high altitude places are typically most also remote.
  • A few specific examples are the Arctic Circle, with the exception of Scandinavia, Sahara,central Australia, Amazon rainforest, Himalayan mountains.
  • Antarctica doesn't even show up on this map, because the travel time to at or near 10 days.