Housing data lab gets $1 million funding to solve housing crisis

The City Futures Research Centre (CFRC) at UNSW Sydney has been awarded a $1 million grant by the office of the NSW Chief Scientist to create a new lab to help analyse the ongoing housing crisis.

The Housing Analytics Lab (HAL) will be a hybrid physical/digital facility created to support data-driven housing solutions.

UNSW will lead a consortium of industry, academic, government and not-for-profits to establish the facility, proposed to be located in Tech Central, South Eveleigh.

The two-year grant is part of the Commonwealth Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) Support Program and in partnership with the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN) NCRIS Facility.

NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Hugh Durrant-Whyte, said he recognised the vital role NCRIS facilities play in supporting the state’s research and development sector. 

“These facilities enable the most advanced research and commercialisation opportunities to happen right here in NSW,” Mr Durrant-Whyte said.

“These activities are a critical driver for innovation in the state’s economy.”

Professor Chris Pettit, director of the CFRC, said HAL builds on work that has previously been undertaken.

“As Australia grapples with housing affordability and supply, academics, government, industry and communities need access to the best available, analytics and insights to inform decision-making,” Professor Pettit said.

Some of the digital tools to be housed at HAL will include a database with a map dashboard of all historic and live planning approvals across NSW and Australia, an AI classifier of planning assessments to understand spatial clusters of current and future housing development activity and a virtual Housing Assistant powered by AI.

The HAL will facilitate evidence-driven policy testing across a wide variety of parameters from the ability to assess housing supply and demand potentials by LGA using AI, to assessing and tracking housing pipelines through data on existing DAs.

The HAL will provide the data needed to plan housing policy to match NSW’s needs.   

“Using real-time housing datasets, multiple scenarios powered by big data and machine learning can be rapidly created and compared, allowing decision makers to assess policy options,” Professor Pettit said.

The Housing Analytics Lab will also be able to provide insights into the supply pipeline, new greenfield lots and the pipeline of new apartments.

UNSW Dean Arts, Design and Architecture Professor Claire Annesley said the City Futures Research Centre is leading the creation of a lab that will offer the best modelling and digital solutions to the problems of urban planning. 

“This is a huge win for getting the very latest analytical tools into the hands of decision-makers,” Professor Annesley said.

“As a university, we are committed to our research and technology making an impact on society, and the Housing Analytics Lab is exactly the kind of thing we want to be doing.”

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