Major cities across Australia are struggling to transform into a network of mixed-use local hubs that function efficiently with unaffordable housing, poor transport and poorly-managed urban sprawl dragging down liveability metrics.
Melbourne, once the perennial chart-topper, was last year relegated to second position for a consecutive year in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s global liveability index, losing out to Austrian capital Vienna.
While healthcare and education have continued to be areas of high achievement for state capitals, infrastructure, transport and unaffordable housing have begun to weigh on locals.
Following eight years of research, RMIT have launched a new online tool for government and industry to tap into new data in order to help shape and understand liveable neighbourhoods.
RMIT's new portal, the Urban Observatory, transparently delivers liveability scores across a range of indicators including walkability, social infrastructure and housing, for Australia’s 21 largest cities.
“We are creating a new national resource of liveability indicators needed to identify, measure, monitor and target responses to critical social, economic and environmental challenges that are arising with Australia’s rapidly growing population,” RMIT Centre for Urban Research lead investigator Melanie Davern said.
The Observatory uses geographic information system spatial maps to display public health data across key areas of liveability: walkability, public transport, social infrastructure and services, employment, food, housing and public open space.
The platform also provides users with detailed information about their communities and the local factors influencing physical and mental health.
“Policy makers looking to encourage active lifestyles for residents can easily access and understand key ingredients of liveability—like walkability, access to schools, public transport, and public open spaces—to decide which areas and people need resources the most,” Davern said.
“They can even examine other neighbourhoods and suburbs across the country to find out what is working in comparable geographic areas.
“Developers looking for the next place to invest can find indicators for whole suburbs or narrow down to individual neighbourhoods.”
The software was launched earlier this week at RMIT’s Engaging for Impact 2020 event, by Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp.
“Liveability at its core is about economic productivity so that people live close to where they work so that they can maximise their time in employment and have opportunities there, and be able to balance the other elements of their lives,” Capp said.
“How we build better governance structures so that levels of government and sectors can work more effectively together is absolutely key.”