Housing is central to all our lives – and the Australian economy.
The 2021 census recorded more than 10.8 million dwellings in Australia, and in 2022 the value of the nation’s housing market topped $10 trillion for the first time, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
But how do we keep track of housing demand, supply and the many housing support services needed to improve access to housing that is affordable, well-located and fit for purpose?
The Australian Housing Data Analytics Platform (AHDAP) is being built to help bring together the nation’s fragmented housing data under one roof and is launching 2 pilot digital products at the 7th International Smart Data and Smart Cities Conference. The pilot products are the National Housing Data Exchange and Colouring Australian Cities, which includes Colouring Sydney, Colouring Brisbane and Colouring Adelaide, with more cities to be released soon.
The federated platform features a central data portal, called the National Housing Data Exchange, along with a suite of analysis tools to make it easier to share and analyse this valuable information, and to help pave the way forward for our housing future.
Consolidating Australian Housing Data
The AHDAP project’s chief investigator is Professor Christopher Pettit from the University of New South Wales, who is their inaugural Professor of Urban Science and the Director of the City Futures Research Centre.
“Housing data across Australia is available through many agencies, across governments and jurisdictions,” Professor Pettit said.
“But the access is fragmented – there isn’t a central place to springboard off and find those datasets.
“Our vision is to provide the tools to enable faster access to the information that is spread out across Australia.
“We want to consolidate data ranging from information on development approvals, property prices, building footprints, building materials, and housing age, through to rental bond data and strata data.
“The Australian Housing Data Analytics Platform will help direct users to the best available housing data that exists, whether it’s in government or industry.
“Ultimately, it will provide a vehicle to help academia, government and industry solve the housing challenges facing Australia. Access to accurate and timely information is crucial for planning … community housing providers need better access to data, local governments need better access for development planning, urban researchers need data for analytics, and so on.”
Creating Equitable Cities
One of AHDAP’s major aims is to contribute to social equity in housing and create a fair, affordable future housing market.
“Housing affordability, housing demand, and housing supply are all big policy questions that are relevant to home buyers and renters,” Professor Pettit said.
“If we want equitable, inclusive cities, we need to have good housing policies which adequately address the social housing requirements and the needs of those entering the housing market or renting.
“And to develop those policies, we need to have consistent data and tools that can be used across government and industry.
“This new national platform will help facilitate research into areas such as housing supply, affordability and diversity, supporting policy decisions that are fair, data-driven, and accurate.”
Working Together to Build a Platform
AHDAP is led by the City Futures Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, partnering with the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC), the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN), Commonwealth Bank of Australia, FrontierSI, New South Wales Government Spatial Services, OMNILINK, Swinburne University, the University of South Australia, University of Queensland, Curtin University and University of Tasmania.
The ARDC has also invested $728,656 into AHDAP to help build the platform.
“The ARDC funding has provided a catalyst to bring together this consortium of partners,” Professor Pettit said.
“This significant investment is also underpinning the realisation of the technical platform.”
A Collaboration Spanning Government, Academia and Industry
Hugh Hartigan is the Head of Research at the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC).
“AHDAP has been a unique collaboration with different levels of government, academic and also industry, and one that is looking to improve the quality and access of housing data across Australia.
“As Chair of the project’s Steering Committee, NHFIC has always seen the need to reduce the fragmentation of housing data, but also the need to unlock new datasets critical for a well-functioning housing market.
“From the Commonwealth government perspective, NHFIC has worked with UNSW to help bring important agencies together such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare to ensure the project complements other housing data processes.
“We often hear from stakeholders that there’s a lot of data out there, but that it’s not harmonised and there are gaps, particularly in areas such as land supply, gaps this project is attempting to fill.”
Two flagship digital tools of the AHDAP project will be launched today at the 7th International Smart Data and Smart Cities Conference held in Sydney from 18 to 21 October.
These are the National Housing Data Exchange and Colouring Australian Cities.
The National Housing Data Exchange is a federated, digital housing platform built on AWS cloud infrastructure, that will act as a unified window to the AHDAP partners’ existing platforms, and all digital housing data.
Colouring Australia Cities is the new Australian contribution to an international collaboration that uses open source software to collect, collate and visualise building data. The platform creates information maps with colours linking to data attributes such as building age, building condition, materials, and energy efficiency.
The concept’s international creator, Dr Polly Hudson from the Alan Turing Institute (the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence), will be a guest speaker at the Sydney conference.
The AHDAP project team is running a workshop showcasing these new digital tools at the conference.
Got Data? Help Build AHDAP
Professor Pettit said AHDAP was keen to hear from researchers and members of government and industry who had housing datasets that could be added to the National Data Housing Exchange and shared with users. Interested people can contact the AHDAP team via the project site or [email protected].
The ARDC is funded through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) to support national digital research infrastructure for Australian researchers.