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Sue Lim (Communications Manager, AURIN): s.lim@unimelb.edu.au, 0411 628 632

Using big data to solve the challenges of urban living is the focus of a new $24 million Australian Government research infrastructure project to be launched today at the University of Melbourne.

The Australian Urban Infrastructure Network, AURIN, gives researchers, planners and policy-makers access to thousands of data sets from  federal, state and local government agencies and the private sector, along with the critical online analytical tools to derive “urban intelligence” from this data.

Professor Robert Stimson, Director of AURIN, said coping with a rapidly increasing population and achieving the sustainable development of our diverse cities and towns is a major challenge.

“How will Australia’s cities address the challenge of providing affordable housing into the future? How can we ensure water security for our cities and towns? How might we enhance healthy lifestyles by designing and building urban spaces that are walkable? What will be the structural economic changes impacting existing jobs creating new jobs and where will that occur across our cities and towns? ” Professor Stimson said.

“These are some of the challenging issues that we must resolve. Doing so will require harnessing ‘big data’ for smart city outcomes.”

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis said the University was delighted to be the lead agent for this national collaborative effort.

“The collaboration between our many data partners, nearly 50 research institutions and a number of private organisations is vitally important to addressing the development and planning challenges confronting our cities and towns,” Professor Davis said.

Professor Stimson, who has been conducting urban research for almost five decades, said the AURIN initiative is unique in the world.

“We see AURIN as Australia’s urban intelligence network. It is pioneering new ways to go about the business of urban research and policy analysis by taking advantage of cutting-edge information technologies that allows the integration of massive amounts of data from multiple sources and the capability to interrogate those data to get results almost instantaneously,” said Professor Stimson.

“AURIN will help build the evidence-base that is crucial to better understand the complexities of Australia’s urban settlements, to plan for their sustainable development, and to enhance the well-being of our diverse communities.”

AURIN is funded by the Australian Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy. The $24 million investment has leveraged a further $24.4 million co-investment by collaborating research institution and government agencies.