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Browsing posts in: Events

Perspectives on the Planning Institute of Australia National Congress

This year I had the pleasure of attending the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA)’s National Congress in Perth. Perth really put on a great show; highlighting that they are producing some really innovative thinking and groups of professionals in Western Australia. In particular, the key ‘themes’ for me were on public engagement, preparing for an ‘automated’ world and what planners can do, and on human-centred design.

Engagement & YP Connect Session
Young Planners worked with ‘new school’ (Dr. Claire Boulange, Dr. Paula Hooper) and ‘old school’ (Anthony Duckworth-Smith) tools in order to design a suburb. This consisted of playful interactions as groups with hand-made ‘board-game’ style city model. Groups then combined these designs with metrics generated from a GIS platform which calculated yield / health benefits and other indicators. This was an engaging, iterative approach – bringing people together, generate understanding and move projects forward in an inclusive manner. The City of Perth’s 3D model and different tools that planners can use in communicating and streamlining the Development Assessment procedures was another innovative piece in this space.

Driverless future & riding an autonomous bus
Perth is one of the first cities globally to be testing Automated Vehicles in real-life traffic environments ; and are Australia’s very first. The RAC especially are emphasising that their main concern is people safely interacting with these vehicles – inside & out. Lessons learned from these trials will allow us to try and design their use while the technology remains largely under development. It was great to actually be within one of these vehicles rather than just experiencing talk about them!

Human-centred design & Copenhagenize Design Co.
Bringing the keynote speakers from Copenhagenize Design Co. was a big highlight. While talking to a group of planners about the benefits of cycling is preaching to the converted ; it was inspirational to see the change that this small group is able to make. In particular, many of the talks in the conference were touching on human-centred design and thinking ; and these guys are really an embodiment of that and the joy, and health it can bring cities.

International Research – Lessons from Shanghai

Tongji CAUP International Doctoral School of Future City and Architecture 2017

Over the past two weeks I’ve had the pleasure of attending the Tongji University International Doctoral School of Future City and Architecture, hosted by their College of Architecture and Urban Planning (CAUP) as a representative PhD student from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney. This is an intensive two-week program held in Shanghai which invites 100 students from Tongji University, other Asian universities and countries around the world (most of which hold dual-degrees with the university).

The program is aimed to build professional research relationships and friendships, invite doctoral students to extend their training in research design, invite talks from a variety of academic and professional guest lecturers from around the world and to develop ideas for research proposals which can be applied to Shanghai. The content of these (over 30) lectures was broad – from emerging materials science, to new ways of preserving heritage, artificial intelligence in architecture, mobility, vertical urbanism, research methods and simply inspiration for different types of research thinking.

**Left: ‘Vertical Urbanism & Urban Bowls’ – Martin Felsen, Associate Professor / Director of Architecture Program, Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)

** Top-Right: ‘Research is fun, make it yours!’ – Luca Fabris, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico Milano

** Bottom-Right: ‘Visualization of Urban Planning Regulation in Japan Using City Engine’ – Shen Zhenjiang – Vice-Head of Graduate School of Environmental Design, Kanazawa University. An excellent talk on how to codify complex planning zoning and building laws in ESRI CityEngine to evaluate both the existing city and future planning proposals. Continue Reading

GovHack 2016 – Mapping Innovation

So I got involved in GovHack again, this time with some of new colleagues in Sydney!

In spite of a big event the Friday night severely impacting our abilities Saturday morning, this is what we pulled off!

Project page and video below.


Mapping Innovation

The printing press, the pencil, the flush toilet, the battery–these are all great ideas. But where do they come from? What kind of environment breeds them? What sparks the flash of brilliance? How do we generate the breakthrough technologies that push forward our lives, our society, our culture?

                                                                                                                                  – Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From

Innovation is a key measure of a country’s success and one that is of key importance to Australia in our current climate. In 2015, Australia was ranked number 17 in the Global Innovation Index with a score of 55.2 for 2015. Australia has maintained its 17th position from the Index in 2014 and increased two ranks from 2013 where Australia was ranked 19.

This project allows the user to journey through the innovation datasets available to Govhack and explore the trademarks, patents and design applications that have been submitted.

This tool will take you on a journey from the national level, where we explore the country and the innovation hubs as they have emerged through time, and then stepping into the state level datasets and exploring the spatial positioning of these innovations over time Finally, we step down further into an individual scale where we have developed Australian word cloud mapping that highlights the key innovations as they occurred throughout each decade.

At a National Scale:

Australia has been ranked number 17 in the Global Innovation Index with a score of 55.2 for 2015. Australia has maintained its 17th position from the Index in 2014 and increased two ranks for 2013 where we were ranked 19.

The Global Innovation Index is a culmination of various aspects of the economy including property, human capital, infrastructure, market sophistication, business sophistication, knowledge and technology outputs and creative outputs. Australia excels at a number of these sub-indices and our key strengths include:
• Regulatory quality
• Ease of starting a business
• School life expectancy
• Tertiary enroelment
• QS university ranking
• Overall Infrastructure
• Information and Communications technologies
• Environmental Performance
• Ease of getting credit
• Intensity of local competition
• Global entertainment and media outputs
• Printing and publishing outputs
• Online creativity
To view how Australia ranked in each category- the data can be viewed here:


This showcases 100 years of innovation using Patent, Design and Trademark data across Australia. On a global scale, you can see Australia emerging with famous ideas such as the Hills Hoist, wifi, Cochlear implants. These ideas are joined by hundreds of thousands on other IP applications. As you watch this application, you can see the Innovation market explode throughout Australia, clearly identifying the city areas as the key place for the Innovative Economy.

We have also geocoded the list of Australian Universities as the correlation between Universities and innovation is a key relationship that has been highlighted.

In this data, trademark data did not have a exact spatial location so the postcode field was used to geocode these postcodes and determine a latitude and longitude for each point. To create the actual variance across the suburb that would occur in the real environment, a variance calculation was used to adjust the spatial location within the suburb to be able to physically see some of the hotspots. Many joins had to be made to relate each of the IP data set, and millions of calculations using our toolkit below.

Datasets used:

At a State Scale:

This map allows you to explore the datasets on a state level for Patents, Designs and Trademarks. This map plays through time and shows the innovative ideas as they emerge.

The Patent and Design datasets are shown as points on the map, whilst due to the huge number of trademarks being registered every year, these are shown as a chloropleth map in the background. This was a conscience decision to highlight the patents and design applications to show their location across NSW.

Datasets used:

On a Projects Scale:

This data set lets you explore the Trademark, Patent and Design database key words, as mentioned in the application description. As you step through time from the 1990s for the trademark data, these word clouds highlight the most common elements of innovation throughout that decade right up to 2015 datasets.

  • The trademark data sets span over 100 years with the first application for trademark within this dataset being from 1906.
  • The design datasets span over 50 years, ranging from 1972 through to 2015.
  • The Patent dataset only spans for 2 decades, with the first data available to download being from 2003.


This project started by exploring the IP Australia datasets where we explored the trademark, patent and design applications that have been created over the past 100 years. There was enormous amounts of data to explore so our first was to explore what it contain and how we could use it.

Mapping this data quickly became a method that we could easily display the data and enable insights to be drawn. From here, we went to work sorting through the data and extracting the informative information. We divided our project into 3 scopes at this section and set to work creating the final product.

National Scale:

These datasets were cleaned and using D3 and Cartodb, worked on creating an informative and interesting map of Australian Innovative history.

In this data, trademark data did not have a exact spatial location so the postcode field was used to geocode these postcodes and determine a latitude and longitude for each point. To create the actual variance across the suburb that would occur in the real environment, a variance calculation was used to adjust the spatial location within the suburb to be able to physically see some of the hotspots.

State Scale:

The datasets we wanted to explore here were at an SA3 level, however we wanted to also overlay this with more fine grained project coordinates. This culminated in a D3 map and the data.

Project Scale:

This project wanted to explore the individual projects and extract meaningful analysis about the trends of projects. The Trademark and Design application descriptions were a great resource to extract all of the project titles and run a correlation. This involved processing of millions of individual words.

Tools Used across the whole Project:

  • ·         D3
  • ·         Python
  • ·         React
  • ·         Processing and various libraries
  • ·         FME
  • ·         QGIS
  • ·         Animoto
  • ·         Topojson
  • ·         Canopy and Jupyter

Open Datasets Used:

Intellectual Property Government Open Data 2016

The Intellectual Property Government Open Data (IPGOD) includes over 100 years of Intellectual Property (IP) rights administered by IP Australia comprising patents, trademarks, designs and plant breeder’s rights. The data is highly detailed, including information on each aspect of the application process from application through to granting of IP rights. We have published a paper to accompany IPGOD which describes the data and illustrates its use, as well as a technical paper on the firm matching. Links to these papers can be found in the Data Dictionary.


SA3 Region Innovation Data 2009-15

This dataset reports on innovation activities (R&D expenditure, patent and trademark counts) and business creation (new businesses) across SA3 regions in Australia.


Global Innovation Index 2015

The Global Innovation Index (GII) aims to capture the multi-dimensional facets of innovation and provide the tools that can assist in tailoring policies to promote long-term output growth, improved productivity, and job growth. The GII helps to create an environment in which innovation factors are continually evaluated.


Universities Australia: University Profiles

Universities Australia lists the number and location of all universities and the various campuses within Australia as part of the Australia University Profiles 2016.