29 July 2007

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The concept of what is "Urban Locality" varies over countries and the professional literature. Yet, there is still an expectation to find some basic urban characteristics in this kind of locality which will allow the inclusion of its population in the category of urban population. In Israel, the definition of locality as "urban" is based on a single criteria – population of 2,000 inhabitants and over. In recent decades, this criteria has led to a situation where rural localities were redefined as urban localities just by going through a period of population growth. The population growth has occurred as a result of suburbanization process, the annexation of community neighborhoods by Moshavim and Kibbutzim, the settling of immigrants from the former U.S.S.R and natural increase. In many instances, the only major change which occurred in the locality is population growth without the additional transformation of urban characteristics such as changes in the landscape or society. Therefore, a challenge has risen to create a methodological tool which will enable the distinction between rural localities which have developed urban characteristics and those which have not. As a result, we develop a statistical model for the classification of localities. For the purpose of creating the model a database was established which includes objective, mainly physical, characteristics of all the localities in Israel. After processing all the characteristics and their statistical interconnections, a final model was decided upon. It includes 3 characteristics: mean number of persons per residential building, synthetic index of distance between buildings and percent of water devoted for agriculture out of the whole water consumption of the locality. These characteristics proved to be statistically valid, without interdependence and representative of varied urban characteristics. This model enables the classification of any locality under investigation as to its being more "urban" or more "rural" in its characteristics. Applying the model to certain group of localities which are currently classified as "urban" (numbering up to 5,000 persons) has shown that most of them still possess rural characteristics. 



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