Articles | Volume 3
10 Jun 2022
 | 10 Jun 2022

Handling the MAUP: methods for identifying appropriate scales of aggregation based on measures on spatial and non-spatial variance

Alexis Comber, Paul Harris, Kristina Bratkova, Hoang Huu Phe, Minh Kieu, Quang Thanh Bui, Thi Thuy Hang Nguyen, Eric Wanjau, and Nick Malleson

Keywords: Aggregation, Scale, Spatial Support, Ecological Fallacy

Abstract. The Modifiable Areal Unit Problem or MAUP is frequently alluded to but rarely addressed directly. The MAUP posits that statistical distributions, relationships and trends can exhibit very different properties when the same data are aggregated or combined over different reporting units or scales. This paper explores a number of approaches for determining appropriate scales of spatial aggregation. It examines a travel survey, undertaken in Ha Noi, Vietnam, that captures attitudes towards a potential ban of motorised transport in the city centre. The data are rich, capturing travel destinations, purposes, modes and frequencies, as well as respondent demographics (age, occupation, housing etc) including home locations. The dataset is highly dimensional, with a large n (26339 records) and a large m (142 fields). When the raw individual level data are used to analyse the factors associated with travel ban attitudes, the resultant models are weak and inconclusive - the data are too noisy. Aggregating the data can overcome this, but this raises the question of appropriate aggregation scales. This paper demonstrates how aggregation scales can be evaluated using a range of different metrics related to spatial and non-spatial variances. In so doing it demonstrates how the MAUP can be directly addressed in analyses of spatial data.