Sustainability & Accessibility


The purpose of transport from its inception to date is to connect people, goods, services and jobs, and the measure of a transport system's ability to do so can be rated as its 'accessibility'. As such, transport systems serve a vital role as the key source of functionality for services that support our livelihoods, well-being and economic growth. While the link between good accessibility and economic growth is well established (such as cursory GDP growth factor models) the less easily modelled link between good accessibility and social equity is still lacking in our long-term transport and planning models.
Current trends for road infrastructure development focus on achieving 'hyper mobility' (UN-Habitat 2013) the attainment of longer highway km and faster speeds. This research project responds to the call for a return to the original purpose and value of transportation, accessibility, as a means to addressing the sustainability challenges of this century.

Research for real-world application: purpose and vision for this research project

This research project recognises an urgent need around the world for better sustainable transport planning practice. This requires the creation of thorough, robust and versatile models that present results in a simple and cohesive format so as to allow for informed decision making by policy makers or politicians. The key criteria for our model include:

  • Informed, rigorous and accurate modelling of all three pillars of sustainability, with each being given equal weighting
  • Results to be presented with a focus on: ease of use, prompt generation, wide-ranging options for data representation and result comparison
  • Versatile model to allow for variations in city data, transport systems, goals and benchmarks

The ultimate vision for this research program is to generate a typology of urban and transport spatial form that, together with a practical assessment methodology, gives city planners additional tools for making informed sustainability decisions.

Sustainability metrics

Currently, our sustainability metrics include:

Sustainability metrics

Measure of environmental stewardship Measure of social equity Measure of economic efficiency
Measure of economic efficiency access to employment access to employees


Targets and visualisations

A primary aim of presenting a methodology is to provide an efficient and simplistic measure of sustainability for a network. In this case, the measure is assessed in an "environmental sustainability - accessibility space". The measure assists in the quantification of environmental and accessibility performance. The space is therefore effective in assessing and visualising the performance of the proposed or theoretical infrastructure. However, this performance evaluation is very arbitrary and a standardised methodology is required.

From this, we aim to provide a risk analysis will assist in determining a tolerance range and provide a visualisation in the "acceptance" of a travel zone pair or spatial area. Thereby assisting in decision making or the overall assessment in the performance of any spatial scale, such as the city of Sydney. The product is also effective in presenting to the public or relevant stakeholders whom lack the knowledge of sustainability or the values in the metrics. Although the visualisation is simplistic, it is effective in its purpose. However, an absolute range needs to be selected. Due to the differences in public opinion and values in different communities, an agreement or compromise is required on this decision. The ranges may be determined by community engagement or a combined decision by representative stakeholders of a city or community.

Future project plans

  • Design for cities in of all development stages:
  • 1. Obtain data from Google Maps and other mobile mapping software
  • 2. Calculations undertaken on low-cost, open-source software
  • Create an open-source, online platform for cross-disciplinary, city-to-city and public collaboration
  • Further disaggregation of the metrics for a more experiential or behavioural based model for environmental impact, personal wellbeing and economic optimality.
  • Shift in focus to accessibility as the end goal rather than current goals: increased mobility and construction of road and highway km.

Get involved

We are looking for the following collaborators to help develop our future project plans:

  • Web developers
  • Programmers
  • GIS
  • Specialists in each metric:

Examples of skills and interests

Measure of environmental stewardship Measure of social equity Measure of economic efficiency
  • pollution types (carbon, particulate matter)
  • urban ecology
  • biodiversity in an urban setting
  • accessibility
  • social equity in spatial form
  • experience of urban life
  • city happiness index
  • city liveability
  • green economy

Please contact Ken Doust at if you are interested.