Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Emergence Pittsburgh

The definition of Pittsburgh is expanding, even if the population of Allegheny County continues to shrink. We need new data to keep up with globalization. State-centric metrics mask global flows of capital. What is emerging is a network of cities, places that have more in common with each other than they do with their host countries.

Geographer Peter Taylor is busy generating the numbers we need to understand the developing world system:

1. The globalisation premise is that contemporary social change is proceeding at an unprecedented rate and key processes behind it are operating at a global scale and are fundamentally trans-state in nature.

2. The data deficiency premise is that although there has never been as much data for describing the world as exists today, the vast majority are collected for states and are about states and as such facilitate international comparisons but not the study of trans-state processes.

3. The organisation lacuna premise is that while many social scientists have recognised the problem and have had to either make do with international data or have created their own project-specific data, there has been no centre acting as a clearing house for the critical research issues that arise from the mismatch between a trans-state world and state-based data. The Loughborough Global Observatory aspires to fill this lacuna and be that clearing house.

Our mission is to provide a service to the world wide social science community as the centre with information about access to trans-state data.
The research underpins new maps of the world that stress the importance of global cities as the primary economic engines, supplanting the nation-state.

Pittsburgh makes the cut in the above map of the global urban hierarchy. This is a visual of the global connectivity of cities, a measure of 'extra-territorial' service activity. Pittsburgh is a 5th-tier city, the lowest rung measured. You can find the city key here (bottom of page).

While a more precise understanding of regional assets is useful, we should also measure global integration. How we can best do this is up for debate, but taking stock of Pittsburgh's interregional relationships is just as important (if not more so) as any regional economic indicator. With this in mind, I dream of a day when Pittsburgh counts its Diaspora when assessing the well-being of the region.

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