Third Space

A place for SGS creative analysts to share their insights into how our cities and regions function

Rental Affordability Index

National Shelter, Community Sector Banking and SGS Economics and Planning have formed a partnership to develop and release the Rental Affordability Index (RAI) every six months. It is an easy to understand indicator of rental affordability applied to geographic areas across Australia.

It is generally accepted that if housing costs exceed 30% of a low income household’s (households with the lowest 40% of income) gross income, then that household is experiencing housing stress (30/40 rule). In the RAI, households who are paying 30% of income on rent have a score of 100, indicating that these households are at the critical threshold for housing stress. A score of 100 or less indicates that households would pay more than 30% of income to access a rental dwelling, meaning they are at risk of experiencing housing stress.

The following household types are examined in detail by the RAI:

  • Average income households
  • Family households
    • The 20% of households within the lowest household income quintile (Q1)
    • The 20% of households within the second lowest household income quintile (Q2)
  • Non-family households (primarily lone person households)
    • The 20% of households within the lowest household income quintile (Q1)
    • The 20% of households within the second lowest household income quintile (Q2)

The RAI is calculated using the following equation, where ‘qualifying income’ refers to the household income required to pay rent where rent is equal to 30% of income.

RAI = (Median incomeQualifying Income) x 100

Quarterly analysis

Rental Affordability Index: Release Report - Quarter 4 2016 (released 17 May 2017)

Rental Affordability Index: Release Report - Quarter 2 2016 (released 23 November 2016)

Rental Affordability Index: Release Report - Quarter 4 2015 (released 16 June 2016)

Rental Affordability Index: Release Report - Quarter 2 2015

A Greater Melbourne: Moving Towards the Compact City

For six years running, Melbourne has been The Economist’s most liveable city in the world . It is a city of broad appeal, with a thriving economy, diversity of retail and services, supportive infrastructure, and good local amenity. The population is growing at a significant rate as a result, with ever more people calling Melbourne home each year. For both structural and economic reasons, however, this growth has been increasingly accommodated at the city’s fringe, a place that continues to move further from the central city and the features that make Melbourne so liveable.

Government response to this issue, through a number of plans, policies and strategies, has been focused on ‘moving jobs out’ or ‘moving people in’ in order to create a more compact city that can be better serviced and connected. An example of such a policy is the City of Melbourne’s Postcode 3000, a 1990s program to attract residential activity to the recession-affected ‘donut hole’ of Melbourne’s city centre. Since then, the number of inner city apartments has grown considerably.

While a considerable degree of developmental focus has been on ‘super high-rise towers’ in the CBD, we have also seen incremental increases in density within inner and middle ring suburbs over the last decade. It appears that after decades of planning for more infill development, Melbourne’s housing market is finally responding. Through a combination of planning regulations and housing preferences this higher density has largely been focused around major centres and public transport corridors.

This map illustrates that high-rise apartments are primarily being developed within the CBD and surrounding suburbs including Docklands, Southbank and Carlton. Mid-rise apartments span across a slightly wider distance, reaching inner city suburbs such as Richmond and Prahran. A little further from the city centre, low-rise apartments are spreading from their traditionally more inner city suburban locations, such as Brunswick and Abbotsford, to middle-ring suburbs, such as Preston. Semi-detached and detached housing are spread more evenly across the urban footprint of Greater Melbourne.

The dashboard below enables you to explore the data in the map in more detail.

Demand to live close to the high-amenity, job rich core of Melbourne has helped to shift preferences and increase the feasibility of denser development forms. Importantly for policy makers, our analysis shows that this has not happened overnight, nor has it been contained to neatly defined activity centre boundaries. It is the well-connected inner and middle ring suburbs that have incrementally become denser, with each new development leveraging the precedent set by the previous.

This incremental progression towards larger scale developments is important to the community, developers and planners alike, as each of these groups has a stake in the shaping and function of a location.

Specifically, incremental densification:

  • Enables the community to adapt to, push back or embrace the changing role of the area
  • Enables developers to test the market and provide evidence of demand for bankers, investors and homeowners alike
  • Gives signals to policy makers on where the market sees an opportunity and where design, planning, and infrastructure investment should be focused.

How will emerging technologies change travel and shape Sydney?

SGS Principal and Partner Alison Holloway presented at the Arup Shaping our Cities Forum ‘Future of transport in Sydney’ in March 2016. The forum brought together a mix of speakers to discuss how emerging technologies might change the way people travel and how the city might be shaped.

Alison presented on Sydney’s growth challenge and an understanding of Sydney’s economic geography to demonstrate that transport technologies that contribute to ‘smart cities’ will different affect parts of Sydney differently. Opportunities to take advantage of telecommuting – for example - will be spatial and policy considerations will need a keen eye on the varying impacts across Sydney’s communities.


Presentation Summary

Sydney is expected to see an additional two million residents over the next 20 years. This may continue to reach over seven million by 2051 and 8.5 million by 2061[1] – the current population of Greater London [2]. Of course, there is great uncertainty in these estimates. Back in 2004, the expectation was that population growth would be at a lower pace than what was actually realised. The only certainty is that the numbers appear to be on the rise.

These high levels of population growth are driving housing demand in locations with good access to the opportunities available in Global Sydney. This growth is placing pressures on housing affordability and transport accessibility. The levels of growth and change are such that all available transport technology solutions and increased opportunities for teleworking will be needed to unlock additional transport capacity through demand management and peak spreading.

Sydney’s industry profile has changed substantially over the past 20 years as it has become more connected into the Global Economy. In the mid 2000’s the number of jobs in professional services and health care overtook jobs in manufacturing sector in Sydney. All signs suggest that these two sectors will continue to dominate the future job profile. These are the industries that thrive on the connections between people and face to face contacts. While teleworking [3] can harness improvements to ICT to reduce commuting times easing peak pressures on the transport network and have a positive impact on work life balancing, there remains high need and preferences for face to face connections.

In addition, the take up of telecommuting varies considerably across industries and occupations. Recent ABS data shows that professionals (66%) have the highest proportion of people who accessed the internet for home based work on a regular basis for their employer. Machinery operators and drivers (16%) and labourers (16%) had the lowest proportions of home based workers who accessed the internet for home based work.[4] This take up of telecommuting and occupation groups vary spatially across Sydney. The percentage of workers across Sydney (home location) who regularly access the internet from home for their employer on a regular basis is shown in the interactive map above.

The locations with the highest rates of accessing the internet for home based work regularly are also the locations that are seeing the highest house price values and rating high on indicators of unaffordability. The locations that have the lowest levels of internet use for work are also those locations that experiencing some of the highest levels of disadvantage according to the SEIFA index.

Early Canadian research [5] has suggested telecommuting and travel times are beginning to impact on housing choice and location decisions. The future may see more families choosing homes that balance affordability with the reducing need for a daily commute. This may see increasing opportunities for locations that are well connected to higher order workplaces in Global Sydney through fast rail or air travel.

While its clear new technologies will change cities, it is really people leading innovation and creating smart cities. In doing this, we need to ensure the spatial differences across our cities are considered and that innovation improves all aspects of city performance, including addressing the growing social and spatial inequalities across the city.


1. ABS Cat. 3222.0 - Population Projections, Australia, 2012 (base) to 2101 (released November 2013)


3. Whether that is home based self employed workers, mobile workers or arrangement between employer and employee that allows work to be performed outside of the usual workplace on a regular basis.

4. ABS Cat. 8146.0 - Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2014-15

5. Tayyaran & Khan (2007) Telecommuting and residential location decisions: combined stated and revealed preferences model. Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering. 34: 1324–1333.

Interactive tool visualising liveability across Parramatta

SGS collaborated with the Institute for Cultural Studies Western Sydney University (Dr Sarah Barnes) to create an interactive prototype tool revealing accessibility walk scores across the City of Parramatta[1]. The research project is one part of a series of research streams as part of the ‘This is Parramatta’ proof of concept City Dashboard. The project was developed to provoke interest in using open data channels to support improved monitoring of city performance and to explore how liveability varies within a metropolitan area.

The focus for the research collaboration was an exploratory exercise to investigate the presentation of data from the public domain in a highly visual and accessible manner to engage the public and inform planning outcomes.

The mapping tool presents data to visualise accessibility to key social infrastructure across Parramatta LGA, using travel time as a proxy. The tool allows the user to choose the infrastructure (transport, retail, health, education) and map accessibility according to their own priorities.

The research used Parramatta as a case study because of the high levels of residential and business growth planned in the area, the need to identify potential gaps in infrastructure and to engage with the community in shaping neighbourhoods. There are opportunities to expand on this approach in the future and to develop similar tools to help inform priorities for investment and resident priorities.

The research project has explored how open data and mapping platforms might be used to evaluate relative levels of accessibility in urban areas and create ‘composite’ profiles of specific precincts. This work has demonstrated that there is available technology and platforms to support data analysis in real time and visualise outputs at a fine grain level.

The creation of the tool identified several opportunities and challenges, including:

  • The need for improved data availability, quality and feedback
  • Existing gaps in information on infrastructure types and services available
  • The potential to inform investment priorities and community priorities with improved evidence; and
  • Greater use of spatial indicators to promote community access to city building data.


1. This research project was concluded prior to local government reforms which resulted in the creation of the City of Parramatta Council through the merger of part of the former Parramatta City, part of the former The Hills Shire, part of the former Auburn City, part of the former Holroyd City and part of the former Hornsby Shire councils. City of Parramatta in this report is based on the boundaries of the City of Parramatta prior to 12 May 2016.

Effective Job Density: comparing our regions and cities

Click on the interactive map above, to zoom in and see the rank of any location in Australia.

Australia has been transitioning from an economy dependent on manufacturing, mining and agriculture to one driven by professional services that include finance, engineering, IT, lawyers and the university sector. This is not to say that manufacturers, miners and farmers will disappear. Rather, they will be required to be highly innovative to prosper and this will demand, directly or indirectly, heavy involvement by professional services. Likewise, population serving sectors like retail, health and hospitality will require access to these analytical and creative services if they are to boost productivity.

These structural trends are often described as the shift towards the ‘knowledge economy'. Spatially, this shift has meant that an increasing share of Australia’s wealth and employment creation is reliant on ‘big city’ based business services. For example, we often think of the mining activity as taking place in regional areas. But in fact, around 40% of the economic output of the mining sector is actually based in our major metropolitan centres.

Despite the higher rents and congestion, professional services cluster in these locations, because, on balance, these crowded locations provide a competitive advantage. Access to skilled labour, complementary services and a larger customer base are all virtues of our major metropolises for individuals and firms providing professional services. Furthermore, large cities provide greater opportunity for formal and informal knowledge transfers and ensure that firms are abreast of new trends, technologies and business practices, promoting innovation, efficiency and increased productivity.


The concentration or ‘agglomeration’ of these services improves their capacity for innovation and therefore their ability to boost the competitiveness of their customers.

So how do we determine how ‘agglomerated’ a location is? Or how one location compares relative to another competing location?

Often social scientists and economists will look at total employment numbers to gain an understanding of this. For example, Sydney has 2 million jobs, while Perth has 800,000 jobs. Therefore, Sydney is larger and should also be denser and provide more of these agglomeration benefits. However, we know there is great variation across our cities, which have high density CBDs with sprawling suburbs around them. A simple density measure (jobs per hectare) can improve on this and highlight where these employment agglomerations occur across a city.

However, you don’t just have to be IN a dense location to gain an advantage. Being near to one, or multiple, is just as beneficial. This is why we have seen strong demand for development within our established urban areas and rapid growth in settlements on the fridge of our big cities. While they are relatively low density themselves, they are just a short trip away from denser employment nodes.

SGS has developed a spatial index of this agglomeration phenomena which is referred to as Effective Job Density or EJD. EJD is a measure of the relative concentration of employment, derived from the density and accessibility of all jobs across a region. The region might be a city or, in this case, the entire Australian continent. The ‘National EJD’ of a specific area provides a relative rank of how agglomerated one location is, compared to any other location in the country. It is calculated using two variables:

  • Car travel time from location a to location b - calculated using actual road networks
  • Number of jobs at location b - sourced from 2011 Census.

For a metropolitan area’s EJD calculations, public transport travel times are also often included.

SGS has mapped EJD by 15 broad levels across Australia. Each of the 2193 ABS Statistical Areas 2s (SA2s) have also been individually ranked, nationally and within their respective state. The Table below shows the top five locations in each state along with their national ranking.


The chart below also illustrates how recent population and employment growth (from 2006 to 2011) is distributed under the 15 EJD levels.


At a broad level, mapping National EJD highlights the concentration of employment on the eastern seaboard, with the capital cities and regional centres along this coastline forming a ‘mega network’. Combined, this corridor represents over 50 per cent of Australia’s economic output. Population and more so, employment, is increasingly attracted to this economic mass and the associated increased opportunities and productivity improvements that come with it. The top five EJD levels represent less than 0.001 per cent of Australia’s land mass, yet they have captured 20 per cent of jobs growth and 5 per cent of population growth from 2006 to 2011 (see chart). A significant portion of those new jobs are in Level 15, which consist of just the Melbourne CBD (ranked 1 in Australia) and Sydney CBD and surrounds (ranked 2 and 3 in Australia).

Zooming into the map shows that each of the major metropolitan cities has an influence well beyond its urban boundaries. As a result these peri-urban areas have managed to capture much of Australia’s regional employment and population growth by providing a country lifestyle while also ensuring strong links back to the broader economy. Many of the peri urban settlements of Sydney and Melbourne provide a rural lifestyle, yet are ranked higher than urban parts of other major cities such as Hobart, Darwin or even Adelaide and Perth.

Looking more closely at Brisbane and Perth, which are of similar size (1 million and 800,000 jobs respectively), we can see that Brisbane ranks significantly higher on the National EJD index. This is due to Brisbane’s denser central CBD and access to a broader network of centres in South East Queensland along the eastern seaboard. The Brisbane CBD is ranked 13 nationally - compared to Perth’s CBD which is ranked 215.

Zooming further into the map shows the bright agglomeration core, particularly evident in Melbourne and Sydney. The CBDs of these two cities have significantly higher EJD, effectively ‘off the chart’ compared to the rest of Australia’s spatial economic landscape. They are increasingly competing economically on an international scale.

However, as our big cities expand, their fringes become increasingly further away from their central cores. As a result, many major regional centres are becoming relatively more competitive than these growth area locations. Newcastle also provides a higher EJD rank than many outer parts of Sydney. In Victoria, Geelong and Ballarat provide a level of EJD similar to growth areas of Melbourne. The Gold Coast in SEQ also ranks higher than many outer parts of Brisbane and with a strong lifestyle offer could increasingly become an attractive alternative.

While not the only driver, EJD – or agglomeration – is increasingly a core driver of the new knowledge economy, which is in turn attracting other employment and people seeking job opportunities.

The next edition of Urbecon will look to break down EJD by sector to see how different parts of our economy are spatially distributed and which are more affected by agglomeration.

At what cost? Mapping where natural perils impact on economic growth and communities

Working with IAG, SGS has examined the population data and economic activity of all Local Government Areas (LGA) in Australia and compared it with natural peril risk levels provided by the Insurance Council of Australia and IAG. The aim of this analysis, released in Canberra on Tuesday, is to highlight locations in Australia which are at the greatest risk of various natural perils and how this risk intersects with economic production and local capacity to mitigate or respond to disasters. This report, and the interactive maps and data files, identifies the LGA’s with the greatest risk.

Natural perils have long been an issue in Australia. There are a number of options available to better manage their impact. People and business can be relocated away from heavily affected areas. Land use planning can direct growth to lower risk areas. Flood levees and dams can be built to keep the community safe. Building codes can be improved to better protect buildings from the impacts of natural perils. All of these types of actions will reduce the risk of natural perils in many parts of Australia.

However, it is rare that these actions have been undertaken in a coordinated manner to deal with a natural peril. Too often there has been an ad hoc approach to deal with the impact of natural perils rather than taking steps to mitigate the impact of future events. As a result, large parts of the country, sometimes the most populated or economically valuable, remain exposed to natural perils. Australia is at growing risk of natural perils such as cyclones, bushfires, storms and floods. If unmanaged, these risks will damage houses, businesses and infrastructure now or in the future.

Areas of key economic importance identified as being at risk include large parts of our mining industry and our knowledge economy located in the major CBDs:

  • $326.6 billion worth of GDP (20.3 per cent of the economy) and 3.9 million people (17.3 per cent of the population) were in LGAs with a high to extreme risk of cyclone. Recent cyclones have already significantly impacted on mineral and agricultural production.
  • 28.4 per cent of GDP ($425.5 billion) and 24.9 per cent of the population (5.5 million people) were living in LGAs at high to extreme risk of flood. Flood events in Queensland in 2011 were highly disruptive to economic activity and caused widespread damage.
  • The Melbourne CBD and its 450,000 workers are at high risk of flooding which has impacted on the transport network in the Melbourne CBD on a number of recent occasions causing economic disruptions.
  • The half a million workers in the Sydney CBD have also experienced transport disruptions caused by fierce storms in recent years.

It is not only economic activity which is at risk from natural peril. The Queensland LGAs of Brisbane, Gold Coast, Townsville and Moreton Bay are at high to extreme risk from combinations of cyclones, storms and floods. Between 2001 and 2015, the population in these area increased by over 450,000 people. In Victoria 17.5 per cent of the population live in LGAs which are at high to extreme risk of bushfire.

Pressure to release more land in high risk urban areas will lead to an increase in the number of people at risk. Development of high risk land should be informed by accurate data on natural peril risk and be accompanied by appropriate mitigation measures to minimise the risks.

Economic resilience, together with high levels of social capital, has been found to translate to greater resilience to natural disasters. In some places the communities at risk may not have the economic resources required to independently prepare (e.g. pay for protective infrastructure) and recover from natural disasters. For example, Moree Plains (New South Wales) and Bundaberg (Queensland) are communities at risk of flooding yet are low on the Australian Bureau of Statistics Socio-Economic Index for Areas Index of Economic Resources. Hepburn, Central Goldfields and Hindmarsh in Victoria have high risk of bushfire and also have low economic resources. These communities may not have the economic resources to make investments to mitigate against the impact of natural perils and may lack the economic resources to recover from natural disasters. Hence the economic burden will fall onto government. As such, the cost of natural disasters have become a growing, unfunded liability for government.

Governments have tended to overinvest in post-disaster reconstruction and underinvest in mitigation that would limit the impact of natural disasters. Spending on mitigation initiatives by the Australian Government represents around three per cent of what it spends on post-disaster efforts. As a general rule, one dollar spent on mitigation can be seen to save at least two dollars in recovery costs. This allocation of spending needs to be addressed. Investments in mitigation strategies reduces the cost of future reconstruction.

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Bushfires used the expression ‘shared responsibility’ to describe how the Australia community can deal with natural peril. There is a need for a coordinated approach by all levels of government to improve protective infrastructure, emergency management roles, land use planning and building regulations to help mitigate the risk of natural perils. While there can be no subsidy to occupy high risk areas, the government may need to assist communities to help mitigate the risks in the short term. This would be most relevant for vulnerable communities which are least able to take actions to mitigate risk and rebuild. In turn, communities, individuals, business and households need be educated and empowered to take greater responsibility for their own safety.

Without heightened awareness, appropriate information and a philosophy of shared responsibility, individuals, business and government will remain at risk of future events.

View Terry's presentation from the Canberra launch event.

For more information, visit the IAG Limited website.

Read coverage of this in the Financial Review and Sydney Morning Herald.

What do the actual sub-regions of our cities look like?

Clicking on the interactive map above shows how these self-contained employment markets form across Australia, expanding beyond local and state political boundaries.

In thinking about the urban structure of our metropolitan cities, it is important to acknowledge their natural poly-centricity. Observing and analysing real behaviour patterns reveals ‘natural’ sub-regions within our economy. These sub-regions have differing yet self-contained economies based on their varied employment nodes, strategic assets and demographic profiles.

Being able to delineate ‘natural’ sub-regions enables better decision-making on crucial urban issues: for instance, in knowing where the effects of infrastructure investments will be distributed, or which areas are served by particular activity or employment nodes.

SGS has defined sub-regions in this context using a statistical algorithm which incrementally groups together Statistical Area 2 [1] geographies across the whole of Australia to form the most self-contained labour markets possible (as conceptualised in Figure 1).


In this process, 2011 ABS Census journey to work data which identifies the both the origin and destination location of workers, is fed into the algorithm. The algorithm finds the smallest and least contained Statistical Area 2 (SA2) and groups it with its most connected SA2. It then repeats this hundreds of times to gradually group up SA2s into sub-regions.

The result is not determined by political boundaries or professional judgement. Rather, each sub-region is a functional economy reflecting where people live and work based on their actual observed behaviour.

The employment nodes within each sub-region play a crucial role in supporting that sub-regional economy and internal hierarchy of centres. Major sub-regional centres, such as Parramatta or Liverpool in particular play a role as the ‘capital(s)’ of their respective sub-regional economy and should be the focus for high order services, employment and transport infrastructure.

Sydney’s ‘natural’ sub-regions

The broader Sydney region hosts almost 1.86 million jobs. More than half of these jobs are located in the ‘Inner’ Sydney self-contained labour catchment, which stretches from Port Botany in the south-east, to Bankstown in the south-west, Hornsby in the north-west and the Northern Beaches to Sydney’s north-east. There are 1.2 jobs for every resident who lives within this Inner catchment of Sydney, with only 12 per cent of Inner residents travelling beyond the catchment for employment. This catchment houses not only the jobs-rich Sydney CBD, but also the employment clusters of North Sydney, St Leonards, Chatswood, and Macquarie Park.

The North West houses 255,000 jobs, many of which are located in Parramatta and the employment cluster at Norwest. Interestingly Parramatta is traditionally associated with Sydney’s west and south-west: however in recent years it has increasingly been pulled into the labour catchment of the north. This shows Parramatta’s increasing integration into Sydney’s Global Economic Corridor that stretches northwards from the Sydney CBD, through North Sydney, St Leonards, Chatswood, Macquarie Park, Norwest and Parramatta. Integrating Parramatta further into this higher-order employment network will have positive flow-on effects for western Sydney, bringing greater employment choice without the need to battle the long distances and congestion associated with accessing the jobs of the Sydney CBD. This regional pull of Parramatta is evidenced by only half the jobs within the North West sub-region being occupied by people of the North West sub-region.

The South West, consisting of Liverpool, Fairfield and the south-west growth corridor stretching down to Camden and Campbelltown, contains 253,700 jobs, most of which (70 per cent) are filled by people within the sub-region. Many of these jobs are within the manufacturing sector.

Sydney’s Outer West sub-region is centred on Blacktown but stretches a great distance northward to Richmond, and west into the Blue Mountains, including Penrith. A majority of this region’s jobs are located within Blacktown, with many (72 per cent) of the jobs filled by people from within the sub-region. This self-contained catchment includes the north-west growth corridor.

The South self-contained labour market largely consists of Sutherland Shire, but also includes the northern extents of Wollongong and land directly south of Sydney Airport.

Finally, and unsurprisingly given geographical constraints, the Outer North, consisting of the Central Coast region, is highly self-contained with 94 per cent of the region's almost 100,000 jobs filled by residents of the catchment.


1. Statistical Area 2: An ABS geographic from the 2011 Census. For instance, there are 275 across Melbourne and they are similar in size to a suburb.

The Switch Route Model: Modelling bicycle flows based on rider’s behaviour

In 2015, City of Melbourne commissioned SGS to undertake research on rider’s behaviour. The analysis informed their Bicycle Plan 2016-2020. The research provided insight into the impact that the provision of bicycle infrastructure (such as lanes or paths) might have on ridership. The task involved analysing rider’s route choices based on data collected from 24,000 trips by RiderLog between 2010 – 2014.

The study showed that most riders take detours from their shortest route, if the option is safer or more comfortable. It showed that 80% of riders in Melbourne would take routes up to 30% longer than their shortest option, if the detour provided a bike lane or path. The figure below shows some examples of the shortest distance vs recorded route.

Bike-Map1 Bike-Map2
Bike-Map3 Bike-Map4

SGS built a digital network for the inner city area of Melbourne which included bicycle infrastructure and an algorithm that enabled the modelling of preferred routes of cyclists based on the behavioural analysis.

The figure below represents a theoretical example of the preferred route of four riders (A,B,C and D) based on this algorithm. It highlights that riders A and C would extend their route in order to obtain a safer route, while riders B and D would keep the same length but align their route to existing infrastructure.


The Algorithm was used to model Journey to Work data thought the Network identifying the principal bicycle corridors around the City of Melbourne, pinpointing existing gaps in the infrastructure and highlighting the impact that upgrades would have on the network.

The model proved that bicycle infrastructure has a wider impact than just creating a safer path. It also aligns rider flows, grouping riders together on preferred roads which creates opportunities to provide support to the users of these connections. The model showed the importance of corridors such as St Kilda Road, Footscray Road, Royal Parade, Canning Street, Brunswick Street, Swanston Street, La Trobe Street and the Yarra River Path, where the provision of safer connections made them the preferred link for riders.

The model only included Journey to Work trips, which covers close to 60% of the bicycle trips occurring in the City of Melbourne (according to the Victorian integrated Survey of transport activity). The analysis was limited to trips coming into the City of Melbourne from areas up to 12km from the municipality. The data does not display a comprehensive story for locations outside of this area.

Showcasing Greater Sydney’s Socio-Economic Advantage and Disadvantage

Showcasing Greater Sydney’s Socio-Economic Advantage and Disadvantage


Student access to tertiary education in Greater Sydney

Student access to tertiary education in Greater Sydney

Access to jobs in Greater Sydney

A city’s infrastructure facilitates its smooth operation, quality of life, economic outcomes and environmental performance. Transport infrastructure in particular seeks to maximise labour productivity by improving accessibility. Using Effective Job Density (EJD) as a measure, SGS has completed a spatial analysis of Greater Sydney in ten yearly increments to 2041.

The analysis provides an understanding of the role of transport infrastructure and its relationship with jobs across the city. EJD is a measure of urban agglomeration where ‘the spatial concentration of economic activities can take the form of concentration in industry clusters or employment centers within a city’[1]. EJD is calculated using the following formula:


The analysis uses travel zone level data for private vehicles, with two inputs: travel time from location a to location b, and the number of jobs at location b. Employment and transport travel time data for each travel zone was sourced from Transport for NSW, Transport Performance and Analytics. The travel times include car based travel only and considers travelling in the morning peak. The projections of employment are based on Land Use 2014 and considers existing trends and policy at the time they were created. The modelling also assumes that there will be some additional investment in transport infrastructure consistent with policy across Greater Sydney. Any detailed policy work would need to review and update these specific assumptions as required.

EJD values were normalised across all time periods, on a scale of 1-10 and then categorised into 10 unit increments. This allows a comparison across time periods on a like-for-like basis. The larger the category, the greater the employment accessibility.

The interactive map provides the results of the EJD analysis. The mapping could be considered a base case. The map does not display the industries of employment, or how changes in transport infrastructure could affect the accessibility or indeed the location of these jobs over time. Future additional analysis could focus on the mix of jobs by industries and take into account other infrastructure such as public or active transport. This would provide a stronger understanding of the impact travel times have on access to employment and city productivity.

Access to jobs is an important measure of city productivity. This analysis showcases the powerful analytical tools available to inform investment decisions. The delivery of new infrastructure should be consistent with long term strategic planning for a city, aligning investment with a preferred spatial and economic structure of the city. This will provide greater certainty and can help make sure the highest priority projects are being delivered.

Note: SGS will seek to update this analysis with the latest Land Use 2016 forecasts once available.


1. Strange, William C. "urban agglomeration." The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Second Edition. Eds. Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics Online. Palgrave Macmillan. 10 April 2017. <> doi:10.1057/9780230226203.1769

Third Space

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