In an Australian first, the project team based at RMIT is working with the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Healthy Liveable Communities and the Clean Air and Urban Landscape Hub to develop a database that shows differences in indicators linked to health outcomes for major cities.
Project lead Dr Jonathan Arundel said the game changer is the scale at which the individual measures are being calculated, with the team analysing data at individual household level. This means they will be able to show variations in liveability, not just across cities or neighbourhoods but right down to individual household address level.
The work is part of a Prevention Centre project that is developing a national database of indicators for the liveability domains of walkability, transport, public open space, food environment, alcohol environment, housing affordability and employment.
Users will be able to access the database through an online portal using the map controls, such as the zoom tool, or uploading individual addresses and then viewing or downloading the matching liveability indicators for each address.
The database allows comparisons across the liveability domains. For example, policy makers can see which neighbourhoods are within walking distance of public transport that provides a minimum service frequency, meaning that residents are more likely to use the service and obtain the health benefits associated with walking for transport.
Dr Jonathan Arundel said the tool would enable policy makers, practitioners, and researchers in urban planning to make a detailed comparison of the liveability of different urban areas across Australia.
“This project is focused on making liveability measures used and useful. We can then better target planning to achieve healthier, more liveable communities.”
The work follows the Prevention Centre’s National Liveability Study, which identified a set of national urban liveability indicators associated with chronic disease and health outcomes.
In a staged approach to implementation, the project team will provide access to the database and online portal to stakeholders before it is disseminated more widely to local, state and federal policy and planning practitioners.
“Now that the indicators have been developed it is important to have stakeholders use them to provide feedback so that we can continue to improve the tools before providing them for wider use,” Dr Arundel said.
As part of the National Liveability project, the project team has started linking national population health data to the liveability indicators in the database.
This will allow new insights into the relationship between liveability measures and health outcomes, such as between walkability levels and body mass index or diabetes.