Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID


Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Shih-Lung Shaw

Committee Members

Hyun Kim, Madhuri Sharma, Qiusheng Wu, Wenjun Zhou


Access to basic human needs, such as food and healthcare, is conceptually understood to be comprised of multiple spatial and aspatial dimensions. However, research in this area has traditionally been explored with spatial accessibility measures that almost exclusively focus on just two dimensions. Namely, the availability of resources, services, and facilities, and the accessibility or ease to which locations of these opportunities can be reached with existing land-use and transport systems under temporal constraints and considering individual characteristics of people. These calculated measures are insufficient in holistically capturing available opportunities as they ignore other components, such as the emergence of virtual space to carry out activities and interactions enabled by modern information and communication technologies (ICT). Human dynamics today exist in a hybrid physical-virtual space, and recent research has highlighted the importance of understanding ICT, individual behavior, local context, social relations, and human perceptions in identifying opportunities available to people. However, there lacks a holistic approach that relates these different aspects to access research. This dissertation addresses this gap by proposing a new conceptual framework for the geography of access for various kinds of human needs, using food access as a case study to illustrate how the proposed framework can be applied to address critical societal issues. An interactive multispace geographic information system (GIS) web application is developed to better understand and visualize individual potential food access based on the conceptual framework. This dissertation contributes to the body of research with a proposed conceptual framework of access in a hybrid physical-virtual world, integration of various big and small data sources to reveal information relating to the access of people, and novel development of a multi-space GIS to analyze and visualize access to opportunities.

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