One of the objectives of the BORDERSPACE project is to empirically capture functional border regions, and transnational spaces in general, from the perspective of people – their mobility and social interactions across country borders. Our first studies showed how novel big data sources can reveal cross-border mobilities of people (Järv et al. 2023), and how that enables to map functional cross-border regions (Aagesen et al. 2023).
To scale up our approach and focus on all functional border regions in Europe, we needed a tool to automate multiple border region calculations. Thus, we developed BorderRegion_KDE – a program to automatically calculate a geographical Kernel Density Estimation (KDE) polygons derived from cross-border mobility, and visualize them.
Read more from our story map (HERE or click the map, below).
Interested in our project?
Read more from our project page: BORDERSPACE and get in contact! The project focuses on studying cross-border mobilities and interactions, transnational people, and functional transnational spaces. The novelty of the project stems from the use of novel big data sources to provide valuable insights for cross-border research and practice. The project is carried out at the Digital Geography Lab — an interdisciplinary research team focusing on spatial Big Data analytics for fair and sustainable societies at the University of Helsinki.
The full-scale Russia’s invasion caused unprecedented migration of Ukrainians, fleeing from active warfare events in the Northern, Eastern, and Southern Ukraine. Unlike the more ‘local’ Russo-Ukrainian war that started in 2014, which caused predominantly internal displacement of citizens, the full-scale invasion on 24 February 2014 resulted in more extensive migration abroad, first and foremost – to the EU countries. In our Internet era, this massive influx of asylum-seekers, refugees and other externally displaced persons (the exact status of such Ukrainian citizens varies from country to country) could not go unnoticed online.
Matti Moisala carried out and defended his MSc study “Mobility of Ukrainians to Europe in 2022 and the effect of social connectedness on destination choice” in our Digital Geography Lab. Matti’s work contributed to the BORDERSPACE project and was supervised by Olle Järv, Oleksandr Karasov, and Tuuli Toivonen. The hypothesis of the study was that the destination choice of Ukrainians depends on their previous social network in the European states, indicated by the Facebook social connectedness index and that Twitter data reflects the actual distribution of Ukrainians among countries.
The social connectedness index describes the relative probability of Facebook friendship links between different geographical areas. While intentionally unavailable for some temporarily occupied regions of Ukraine or connections between Ukraine and Russia, the social connectedness index provides a promising proxy of the strength of social relationships among communities worldwide. According to Figure 1, pre-invasion social connectedness was the strongest with Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, and three Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Ukraine is least socially connected with the UK, France, the Netherlands, Iceland, Norway, Romania, and Turkey.
The Horizon Europe funded MOBI-TWIN – Twin transition and changing patterns of spatial mobility: a regional approach – sets out to redefine regional attractiveness in the context of significant global transition processes such as the green and digital transition. The project aims to analyze the changing drivers of spatial mobility and examine the effects of twin transitions on regional attractiveness and human (im)mobility.
The twin transition presents both opportunities and challenges for regions across Europe. As certain areas become more alluring due to the emerging prospects brought forth by the green and digital revolution, others risk being left behind. By utilising advanced information and computer modeling techniques, MOBI-TWIN seeks to comprehensively understand the impact of these changes on different regions of Europe and develop innovative policies that promote balance and inclusivity by harnessing the positive effects of Twin Transition.
A primary focus of MOBI-TWIN is to unravel the underlying factors that influence individuals’ decisions to relocate and how these factors may evolve in response to global changes. By analyzing various types of moves, including permanent relocations, commuting patterns, and temporary stays, the project aims to gain insights into the intricate dynamics and implications for different European regions.
How we do it
Taking a step further, MOBI-TWIN employs a specialised computer model to simulate the potential outcomes of people’s mobility in the face of the Twin Transition. This includes assessing the potential influx of individuals into specific locations, the types of jobs they may acquire, and the subsequent impact on regional populations, social structures, welfare system, and labour markets. By leveraging these findings, MOBI-TWIN aims to propose policies that harness the positive aspects of these changes and maximise the benefits for different areas. Of particular importance is the examination of how the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit have affected freedom of movement between EU regions.
Olle Järv (University of Helsinki) and Ate Poorthuis (KU Leuven) organize a special session focusing on how dynamic mobility flows form functioning systems like communities, urban networks and regions at the European Colloquium on Theoretical and Quantitative Geography 2023. The ECTQG’23 takes place 14.–17. September 2023 in Braga, Portugal.
Join us and submit your abstract HERE. Abstract deadline: 15th May 2023. We plan to organize a special issue in a peer-reviewed geographical journal in 2023 and look forward to your contribution on the scope, in addition to our ongoing research in BORDERSPACE project. See our session description, below:
Special Session “From dynamic mobility flows to functional systems: Communities, urban networks, and regions”
The analysis of functional systems through spatial interactions has been a long-standing interest in quantitative geography. While traditional approaches often focused on single cities or countries, limited themselves to specific kinds of mobility (e.g. commuting or migration), or a single point-in-time, new (big) data sources and computational methods have opened up new avenues. By not only providing new insights on temporal rhythms of functional systems, these systems can also be investigated at larger global and cross-country scales, and capture for more heterogeneous types of mobility (e.g. cross-border commuting, multilocal living, recreation and social networks). This can shed new light on, for example, border regions from different countries forming one functional system regarding peoples’ daily practices or the temporal rhythms of urban networks.
We live in a mobile world and cross country borders for various reasons – migration, tourism, work and education, and seeing family and friends. In addition to migration and tourism, cross-border practices are increasing due to the people whose daily lives are not confined to a fixed territory of one country, including cross-border commuters and people with multi-local living lifestyles between different countries (Gerber 2012; Carling et al. 2021; Järv et al., 2021). These recurring and frequent mobilities crossing country borders for work, shopping, services, and leisure not only affect individuals’ social connectedness and integration (e.g. social networks, well-being and place attachment) across borders, but also contribute to the (re)production of functional transnational spaces – border regions from different countries forming a functioning system.
One of the goals of the BORDERSPACE project at the Digital Geography Lab is to examine whether and how social media data such as geo-located Twitter data can reveal cross-border mobility of people and provide new insights for understanding border regions. We demonstrate the feasibility of using Twitter data in two different recently published studies – the first study from the Greater Region of Luxembourg and the second study from the Nordic countries.
Study #1: “Revealing mobilities of people to understand cross-border regions: insights from Luxembourg using social media data”
Authors: Olle Järv, Håvard W. Aagesen, Tuomas Väisänen& Samuli Massinen
Conceptually, our approach was to make big data small and meaningful by: 1) using a bottom-up concept of activity space (e.g. Järv et al., 2014); 2) using mobility as a tool to capture individual activity spaces; and 3) contextualizing mobility from the border perspective.
Olle Järv from the Digital Geography Lab attended as an expert panellist in the Nordic-Baltic Migration Conference “Cross-border Mobility in the Nordic-Baltic Region” organized by the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Tallinn, Estonia on September 18, 2020. Olle participated in the second panel ”New Challenges in Cross-Border Mobility, Nordic-Baltic Region” together with Uffe Palludan (Palludan Fremtidsforskning), Jonas Wendel (Nordic Council of Ministers’), Rolle Alho (Uni Helsinki), and Saara Pellander as a moderator (Migration Institute of Finland). In the panel, Olle briefly introduced his BORDERSPACE research project on cross-border mobility and transnational people, and how these research topics benefit from novel data sources such as social media and mobile phone data.