2022-2023 High Impact Projects Announced

We are pleased to announce the five High Impact Projects that will launch in 2022.

The application process was highly competitive, with twenty-five applications received. Our independent, expert, Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) completed a careful and thorough review and recommended funding the projects listed below for 2021/22. That recommendation was reviewed and accepted by the AURIN Management Board.

These projects, covering a large number of national research priorities, will launch throughout 2022. Collectively, they will provide resources and tools to support informed and effective policy and decision-making across the environment, the economy, health, social equity and access, driving positive impacts around Australia and internationally.

Details on each of these projects are available below, and we are excited to share updates as they progress throughout the year ahead.

High Impact Projects launching in 2022

Rooftop Photovoltaic Potential Maps for Urban Areas at Building Scale
(Curtin University)

This project seeks to support the transition to renewables across Australia, as well as provide a knowledge base for infrastructure that will enable energy independence and energy justice in remote communities.

While rooftop photovoltaic systems (solar panels) have the potential to be a substantial source of Australia’s clean energy, they come with challenges such as efficiently integrating these systems with grid networks, and finding and evaluating suitable buildings and roofs. Making these processes simpler, faster and more accurate could have a significant effect on the uptake of photovoltaic technologies, increasing their contribution to Australia’s energy mix and encouraging emission reductions in line with the current target of net zero emissions by 2050.

By incorporating existing spatial, meteorological and distributed energy resource data with geo-referenced building data, this project will develop rooftop photovoltaic potential maps at building scale for the City of Kalgoorlie Boulder in Western Australia, allowing for a greater understanding of where these systems may have the greatest impact.

The project will produce a case study and an interactive map, with resources such as publications, user guides, documentation and training materials made available in a public GitHub repository for use by developers, planners and researchers.

At scale, the ability to more accurately predict energy needs and impacts would help to reduce the design and install costs of such systems, encouraging effective investment and uptake.

Nationwide Longitudinal Database for Emerging CALD Communities and Social-Environmental Inequities

This project will produce a new database to inform planning and policy decisions impacting CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) populations across Australia. This resource will help to reveal social and environmental inequities, especially those impacting the exposure of CALD populations to the effects of climate change, such as urban heat and changes in urban greening.

Access to the resulting database, the Emerging CALD (E-CALD) Database, will be available through AURIN, providing new data on CALD populations and social-environmental inequities that will support research, policy and planning addressing these inequities and their impacts.

This work will build upon the Integrated Heat Vulnerability Index Toolkit, which provides tools allowing researchers to identify indicators of vulnerability to the heat impacts of climate change. Emerging CALD communities, defined as locations with a significant increase in their CALD population over the past twenty years, according to census counts, will be identified. The project will then measure the exposure of these populations to urban heat impacts, as well as how this exposure is effected by social and environmental inequities.

In addition to its value across social science, urban planning and health and environmental research, the E-CALD Database will assist decision makers and researchers working to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Developing Localised Measures of Social Progress (NSW)
(UNSW Centre for Social Impact)

This project will extend on the methodology of the Australian Social Progress Index (SPI), which launched in 2020 and ranks states and territories on their social progress according to indicators such as rights, nutrition, education and environmental quality.

It will produce an SPI for New South Wales at the SA2 level, drawing on a wider range of data and interrogating the impact of policies and programs across different regions in the State. This will help provide the insight required to identify and prioritise community needs, avoiding a ‘one size fits all’ approach to responding to social problems by supporting targeted and effective policy interventions.

While the current Australian SPI is a valuable resource, the lack of community-level granularity restricts its usability in developing these targeted recommendations and policy changes that respond to unique community challenges and priorities.

Outputs from the NSW SPI will include aggregated data summaries, pulling multiple data sources to understand outcomes in socially important issues such as access to shelter, basic education, and inclusion. It will also produce an interactive web platform that visualises the relative scoring and rank of NSW SA2s, as well as economic scorecards allowing for comparison of the performance of SA2s against their economic peers.

The collation of multiple secondary datasets not yet integrated with the Australian SPI will help to identify gaps in social and environmental data which should be prioritised for future large-scale collection and distribution. With improved data collection, the SA2 approach in NSW could be replicated nationally, allowing governments to develop and implement responsive policies across Australia. Governments would also be better placed to report on social progress alongside GDP, supporting inclusive growth and the achievement of targets such as the Sustainable Development Goals.

Economic Impact Analysis Tool (EIAT) Update and Redevelopment
(Flinders University)

This project will update and redevelop the Economic Impact Analysis Tool (EIAT) to ensure that it remains useful for planners, policy makers, researchers and commercial organisations seeking to estimate the economic impact of investment proposals and decisions.

In supporting informed decisions on resource allocation across a wide range of services, industries and locations, the tool will help to ensure that populations across Australia have access to the benefits of targeted and effective spending and investment. It will also provide opportunities for commercial organisations to ensure that they have a full view of potential economic outcomes when making business decisions.

The previous EIAT quantified the benefits to a region flowing from expenditure within that region, for example, estimating the number of jobs created and the change in economic activity resulting from certain expenditure.

Through this project, the success of this initial development will be built upon with essential updates to the tool. This will include updates to national and regional input-output tables, the employment dataset and spatial geographic boundaries to align with the most up-to-date census results possible.

The project will also rebuild the tool using modern software and new development techniques, with priorities including moving to a serverless approach and adding functionality to allow for Continuous Integration of new data as it becomes available.

Integrated National Air Quality Database
(University of Melbourne)

The Integrated National Air Quality Database (NAQD) seeks to inform policy and research on air pollution, which has a significant global impact and is relevant to multiple national research priorities, including food, health, the environment, resources, energy, and soil and water.

With contributing factors across energy production and transport, as well as its social, environmental and economic effects, it is vital that the drivers and consequences of air pollution are better understood.

Building upon previous work which combined air pollution and meteorological data, this project will enhance data collection processes, improve metadata, integrate data from other sources (such as NGOs), and support richer data analytics using machine learning. It will also use citizen science to collect disaggregated data that it is not possible to collect using only current monitoring stations.

In addition, the team will develop an API to make air pollution data available through AURIN, providing a new and valuable resource for policy makers, epidemiologists, government agencies and other researchers.

Through access to the NAQD, planning and policy decisions will be underpinned by more detailed and accurate knowledge of their effects on air quality across Australia, helping to improve health, environmental, economic and social outcomes.