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Transportation

, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 895–918 | Cite as

Impact of ICT access on personal activity space and greenhouse gas production: evidence from Quebec City, Canada

  • Luis F. Miranda-Moreno
  • Naveen Eluru
  • Martin Lee-Gosselin
  • Tyler Kreider
Article

Abstract

This paper presents an approach to investigating the impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on travel behaviour and its environmental effects. The paper focuses on the spatial dispersion of out-of-home activities and travel (activity space) and greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) at the level of the individual. An original method, combining spatial analysis in a geographic information system with advanced regression techniques, is proposed to explore these potentially complex relationships in the case of access to mobile phones and the internet, while taking into account the influence of socio-economics and built environment factors. The proposed methodology is tested using a 7-day activity-based survey in Quebec City in 2003–2004, a juncture of particular interest because these ICTs had recently crossed the threshold of 40 % (mobile phone) and 60 % (home-based internet) penetration at the time. The study period also largely pre-dates the era of mobile internet access. Among other results, socio-demographic factors were found to significantly affect both ICT access and travel out-comes. The built environment, represented by neighbourhood typologies, also played an important role. However, it was found that after controlling for the self-selection effect, built environment and socio-demographics, those who had a mobile phone available produced 30 % more GHGs during the observed week than those who did not. This higher level of GHG pro-duction was accompanied by a 12 % higher measure of activity dispersion. On the other hand, having internet access at home was associated with lower GHGs (−19 %) and lesser activity dispersion (−25 %). Possibly, mobile phones enable individuals to cover more space and produce more emissions, while the internet provides opportunities to stay at home or avoid motorized travel thus reducing emissions. The estimated effects of having a mobile phone were not only negative but also larger in magnitude from the environmental point of view than those of fixed internet access. However, the results of this study also suggest that access to mobile phones and internet may have substantial and compensatory effects at the individual level that are undetected when using model structures that do not take into account that unobserved factors may influence both ICT choices and travel outcomes.

Keywords

ICT access Activity spaces Greenhouse emissions Land use Endogeneity 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The work described in this paper was undertaken on data developed from 2000 to 2008 by the PROCESSUS Network. It was supported primarily by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada as the Major Collaborative Research Initiative Access to activities and services in urban Canada: behavioural processes that condition equity and sustainability, GEOIDE, the Canadian Network of Centres of Excellence in geomatics, and the Ministère des transports du Québec. This work was also partially financed by the Fonds de recherche du QuébecNature et technologies, as part of the program Recherche partenariat contribuant réduction et séquestration gaz effet de serre. The authors would like to thank Pierre Rondier (Laval University), who built the relational database for the Québec City Travel and Activity Panel Survey as well as Philippe Barla (Laval University) for his invaluable assistance with the GHG estimation. The insightful suggestions by three anonymous reviewers for improvements to the paper were very appreciated.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis F. Miranda-Moreno
    • 1
  • Naveen Eluru
    • 1
  • Martin Lee-Gosselin
    • 2
  • Tyler Kreider
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Civil Engineering and Applied MechanicsMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.École Supérieure d’Aménagement du Territoire et de Développement Régional, and Centre de Recherche en Aménagement et DéveloppementUniversité LavalQuebec CityCanada

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