Methods and Measures for Analyzing Complex Street Networks and Urban Form

Boeing, G. 2017. “Methods and Measures for Analyzing Complex Street Networks and Urban Form.” Doctoral dissertation. University of California, Berkeley.

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This research project’s street networks and measures data are publicly available in my repository at the Harvard Dataverse.


Complex systems have been widely studied by social and natural scientists in terms of their dynamics and their structure. Scholars of cities and urban planning have incorporated complexity theories from qualitative and quantitative perspectives. From a structural standpoint, the urban form may be characterized by the morphological complexity of its circulation networks – particularly their density, resilience, centrality, and connectedness. This dissertation unpacks theories of nonlinearity and complex systems, then develops a framework for assessing the complexity of urban form and street networks. It introduces a new tool, OSMnx, to collect street network and other urban form data for anywhere in the world, then analyze and visualize them. Finally, it presents a large empirical study of 27,000 street networks, examining their metric and topological complexity relevant to urban design, transportation research, and the human experience of the built environment.