eResearch Tools to Generate Economic Spatial Statistics

eResearch tools to generate economic spatial statistics and conduct regional impact analysis for incorporation into the aurin e-infrastructure

This project will update the eResearch Tools suite developed by the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE) under the previous project Provide e-Research Tools to Generate Economic Spatial Statistics and Conduct Regional Impact Analysis for Incorporation into the AURIN e-Infrastructure, by providing one extra concordance tool to enable researchers to generate spatial measures and conduct regional impact analysis.

Project Overview

The project comprises the development of an extra eResearch concordance tool to allow users to convert data from one spatial unit to another. The infrastructure will be hosted on the CofFEE IT infrastructure.

Users of spatial data often have a need to access data at a spatial unit for which the data is not provided. The researcher will often convert data from one spatial unit to another using a concordance file, which may be weighted by either population or area and the user then calculates the corresponding variable for the new spatial unit.

This is of particular relevance to the 2011 Census of Population and Housing since the ABS introduced a new statistical geography, the ASGS, to replace the former ASGC. After the 2011 Census, data will not be disseminated at ASGC spatial units and hence many researchers and analysts will need to alter their historical data to be able to continue making comparisons with previous collections.

The concordance e-Tool will provide users with a tool that does the concordance for them.

Project Outputs

  • Background Intellectual Property in conception, development and infrastructure

The Project will make available extensive intellectual property to AURIN to facilitate the completion of the project.

  • Development of software engines

The contract extension will develop and deliver software engines to generate the concordance eResearch tool above. The underlying software architecture will be based on the open-sourced statistical software R.

The e-Tool will make use of existing concordance structures. Many existing concordance files are available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) website. All publicly available concordances that are downloadable from the ABS website will be available to users. These include:

  • SA2 to SLA/LGA/SSD/SD/Labour Force Region
  • SLA to SA2/SA3/SA4
  • LGA to SA3/SA4
  • SD to SA4
  • Labour Force Region to SA4
  • Postcode to SA2/SA3/SA4
  • Postcode to SLA/LGA

In addition correspondences are available for all spatial units that use SA1s as their base unit and hence are aggregations of SA1s. Where feasible these correspondences will also be available.

Most concordances are weighted either by population or by area. Population weighted concordances are usually more effective for social and demographic data, area weighted concordances for agricultural and environmental data. For the 2011 Census the concordances were created using a new methodology based on Mesh Block population data, which results in greater accuracy in the concordances than previously.

Once a concordance has been selected by the user, they will be able to view the concordance and download that if required in CSV format.

  • Technical manuals for users

The project will provide an online technical manual which will provide a comprehensive guide to the use of the e-Tool and serve as a state-of-the-art reference guide for end-users. It will explain the process of conversion between spatial units and provide a guide to the effective use of the concordance e-Tool.

The manual will provide guidance on the existing available concordances as well as other possible concordances a user may make use of and the sources of that information. As part of the manual, a tutorial will be provided which will outline a complete example of the e-Tool’s use.

  • Integration with existing AURIN Portal

The Concordance e-Tool will be hosted on CofFEE’s IT infrastructure at no extra cost to AURIN. Open source databases will be used to store data (MySQL and/or Postgres/PostGIS databases). The tool will utilise a common browser-accessible interface developed by the Team (mostly in php). The emphasis of the design will be on a flexible, user-friendly environment. The browser-based UI will be designed to facilitate user interaction with the concordance tool.

The user will upload their data to the CofFEE site and then be able to select from a range of concordance structures available on the site. They will then be able to select the variables from their own dataset they want converted. The output from the concordance e-Tool will mirror the output structure of tools available separately on the AURIN Portal and will be readily available for viewing and subsequent download. Once downloaded the user may then choose to upload the output to the AURIN Portal to use as an input file and utilise one of the many other e-tools available on the AURIN Portal, should further calculations be necessary. This process is independent of each other and hence no integration between the sites is necessary.

In terms of the Technical Requirements Specification document of AURIN, the e-Tool project will be a 1-star level tool and will therefore be fully hosted and maintained on CofFEE websites. As a data conversion tool there will be no requirement for spatial integration per se. However, as described above, the output of the e-Tool will allow users to separately use the converted data with spatial tools on the portal, for example present the data in a choropleth map.

The Project Team will fully test the engine using data available as part of the overall AURIN Project. In addition, the Project team will determine the way in which users might input their own concordance files or own-user data for use in the tool.


Project Team Overview

The Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE) is a research centre based at the University of Newcastle. Its’ membership is drawn from the disciplines of Economics, Politics, Geography, Sociology, Leisure and Tourism.

CofFEE seeks to undertake and promote research into the goals of full employment, price stability and achieving an economy that delivers equitable outcomes for all. Its broad focus areas are: macroeconomics; labour economics; and financial analysis. In the last decade this focus has consolidated around spatial perspectives on urban and regional change and dynamics.

Bill MitchellProfessor Bill Mitchell
CofFEE Centre Director
p. 0419 422 410


Project Partners

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Download the FACT SHEET: eResearch Tools to Generate Economic Spatial Statistics