Time-Space Convergence The impression that distances between two locations have decreased because of the advances in communications and transportation systems.
The concept of global village means that the world has seemed to grow smaller because of major advances in transportation and communications technology. • These changes allow people, goods, and information to move from one location to another much more quickly than they could before. • Because we tend to measure the distance from point to point by minutes rather than kilometers, this reduction in travel time between locations is similar to a reduction in the actual distance between two places.
Example • The early sailing vessels averaged 6km/h. The Concorde jetliner travels at approx. 1400km/h. • Geographers call this concept time-space convergence, or time-space compression. The rate of time-space convergence can be calculated by comparing the travel time required during two different time periods. • 1920 London to Halifax by ship 336 hours (2 weeks) • 1958 London to Halifax by first jet airliner 7 hours • Time savings = 329 hours! (336 hours-7 hours); This change occurred over 38 years (1958-1920)
Calculating Time-Space Convergence • Time-space convergence = 329 hours/38 years = 8.66 hours/yr • The average rate of time-space convergence between London and Halifax between 1920 and 1950 was 8.66 hours per year.
As with all averages, we must be careful in the way we interpret this figure. In the example, it suggests that the time required to travel between London and Halifax decreased year by year. In reality, the time stayed the same for many years and then, with the appearance of the first commercial liner, the travel time decreased drastically.
Local Examples of Time-Space Convergence • In the 1950’s local governments in Canada spent billions of dollars on infrastructure and improving the road systems. • At first, the new roads and lanes had the desired effect of reducing the commuting time for suburban residents to the city. • It did not take long however, before more people bought new cars and moved to the suburbs to take advantage of the easy access to the city. • These new commuters helped to clog the roads, reduce traffic flow and increase the travel time between the suburbs and the city. • When the distance between two locations seems to be increasing rather than shrinking, we call this time-space divergence.
Quick Fact • The flu epidemic of 1919 took about four months to spread around the world. This was brought about largely by troops returning home in ships from the battlefields of the First World War in Europe. Health officials estimate that today, because of the frequency and speed of intercontinental air travel, a flu epidemic could spread around the world in as little as four days!
ASSIGNMENT • Most of us assume that the shrinking of the world through improvements in transportation and communications has been as good thing. Not everyone would agree with this idea. Some people argue that the so-called improvements have had some negative results. Create a two-column chart that lists the positive and negative aspects of time-space convergence.