Charting Australian Sprawl…

Data and metrics are wonderful things.  They allow us to bend and warp stats to create profiles and trends.

Of particular interest to me is how our cities are changing.  There is a lot of noise about inner, middle and outer ‘density’ (which in this context is the number of people who inhabit a square hectare) in all our major cities.

This excellent piece of data analysis demonstrates some trends in an upward fashion for most of our cities.

Adelaide: static and sprawling?

Picking on Adelaide, it shows that using weighted averages (and I’m no statitician…) we have not moved much since 1981.  Ironically that is over 30 years ago, so what does that mean for the recently launched 30 Year Plan for Greater Adelaide, and by implication, the recent 30 Year Transport Plan?  Both are well crafted, well intentioned documents, wondering if these trends were assessed and analysed on why? I assume yes, but it makes for sober reading. Turning density around is a slow process, so perhaps more intensity in density is required to change the graph and make a real difference to our cities?

Whilst the average is across the entire metropolitan area, it shows an average Adelaidian density of just 12 persons per hectare.  Compare this with Sydney which is double, still low on world standards. The trends show the curves dropping to their lowest densities in the 1980s – which probably reflects one of the many sprawling housing booms Australian Cities have had over the decades. 

graph density Australian Capital cities

However measuring this on an international scale is a bit more difficult, according to ‘Charting Transport’, as the stats and comparable data dont match.  A very interesting read.

Image: Doug Barton

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