Overcrowded housing looms as a challenge for our cities


Shanaka Herath, SMART Infrastructure Facility at University of Wollongong and Rebecca Bentley, University of Melbourne

Overcrowding is an inevitable and often overlooked result of the affordable housing shortage in our cities.

When a dwelling requires four or more extra bedrooms to reasonably accommodate occupants, the standard commonly used in Australia defines that as severe overcrowding. In 2011, 41,390 Australians lived in severely overcrowded dwellings, an increase of one-third from 2006. This increase occurred mostly in cities where house prices had risen sharply.

Our recent research, to be published soon, examined where overcrowded housing is located in our capital cities. We found:

  • Sydney and Melbourne are most affected by concentrated overcrowding
  • levels of overcrowding are highest in middle-city areas (except in Adelaide)
  • overcrowding overlaps strongly with socioeconomic disadvantage. Continue reading

Infrastructure Resilience: Planning for Future Extreme Events

By Sarah Dunn

Natural hazards have the potential to cause large-scale impacts and disruption to all countries and if these events occur in highly populated areas the impacts can be catastrophic.  This has been shown by previous earthquake events in Christchurch and Haiti and by hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.  The severity and lasting impact of these hazards are often linked to the resilience of critical infrastructure systems (including: water distribution networks, electrical systems and transportation networks) which underpin our communities and support social and economic development.  These systems are currently being subjected to a multitude of challenges – from a changing climate, to increasing population demands and economic austerity.  Therefore, we need new approaches to assess and manage the resilience of these critical systems.

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Human behaviour modelling and simulation for crisis management

By Carole Adam

The SWIFT project (funded by University Grenoble-Alps) investigates the somewhat irrational behaviour of citizens confronted with wildfire risk in Victoria. It relies on survey data from the Bushfire Research Commission created after the Black Saturday fires in 2009, to design a realistic model of this behaviour. An initial model focused on the mismatch between objective and subjective values of both the level of risk and the individual ability to face it; it proved valid against behaviour statistics, and also showed good explicative power despite its apparent simplicity, at the level of the global population. This model was also used to investigate the effects of different communication strategies.

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Tweet Semantics

Rodney ClarkeBy Associate Professor Rodney Clarke

All major approaches used to analyse tweets (statistical and machine learning) proceed from the segmentation and classification of lexical items (words). An alternative approach involving computer-based grammars is rarely used because they do not scale well to the dimensions necessary for the analysis of PetaJakarta tweet traffic. All current approaches are syntactic and asemantic. They are incapable of addressing questions concerning how citizens are actually using social media platforms during emergencies because they are incapable of explaining how language is structured for use. Continue reading

Public Infrastructure Investment in the 2000s: Lessons from the ‘Perfect Storm’

Joe Branigan for blogBy Joe Branigan

Australia’s ongoing productivity performance and standards of living depend fundamentally on efficient and high quality infrastructure. Perhaps no other area more directly showcases the quality of current and past government administrations than decisions on public infrastructure — including how it is planned, prioritised, funded and delivered. Continue reading