Making urban data visible

12 Jul 2016

With the democratisation of information and analytics, more and more data is made available to planners and policy makers, community groups and others interested in city plan making. Professor Chris Pettit and the UNSW City Futures Research Centre (UNSW Built Environment) recently launched the CityViz website to make urban big data visible.

CityViz aims to be the interface into urban city researchers’ projects and to make it more easy and accessible for the general public to understand urban analytics. It displays a range of data that built a comprehensive and integrated visual depiction of our changing city.

So far, CityViz has developed a number of City Housing and Movement Indicators including: Million Dollar Property Sales, Strata Schemes of Sydney, Sydney Housing Affordability Index and Cycling in Sydney, with the help of Intersect Australia.

Chris Pettit said: “Big data is all relative, it is messy and requires lots of data wrangling. You cannot manipulate and process the data in traditional spreadsheet packages”.

With CityViz, digital storytelling accompanies the maps and provide a deeper understanding of what is being visualised. Maps can be visually explored using tools and clues.

For example, the ‘Cycling in Sydney City Movement’ indicators shows spatial and temporal maps with GPS coordinates collected every 40 seconds. For each bike ride segment, lots of data points are recorded using the Riderlog smartphone app and then analysed and visualised. Visual maps of bike rides can be used to highlight suburbs and precincts where bicyclists reside or are travelling to. Such data can assist planners in developing specific bicycle infrastructure strategies, where to build bike paths, have a secure bike parking station, and how to support multi-modal commuter behaviour.

Analysis of the data highlights a significant gender divide in people cycling in Sydney, with women being lead indicators of cyclability. Read more in the Sydney Morning Herald article here.

UNSW City Futures Research Centre and Intersect Australia have collaborated on multiple projects, including the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network AURIN Housemod, AURIN Housing Lens and

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