There is a growing imperative for infrastructure decisions in Australia to be based on evidenced based approaches which are data driven. Urban growth modelling is increasingly being used in strategic infrastructure planning practice. However, current models tend to be "once-off" applications based on static equilibrium approaches that represent little or no behavioural validity. To increase the uptake of urban models to support infrastructure planning we argue these models need to become more responsive to a more complex, multi-modal and demand-side policy environment, founded in behavioural and complexity sciences but also need to be facilitative of participatory planning approaches.
This paper presents a critical review of two case study applications of alternative land use modelling approaches in the context of Australian local government areas, assessed against an evaluation framework developed from a set of best practice modelling criteria, sourced from the international literature. The first case study is an application of the more complex, detailed, agent-based model, UrbanSim, in Logan, Queensland (Qld) and the second, the more simple, rule-based model, Online What-if?, applied in the North-West subregion of Perth. These contrasting approaches are considered in terms of their performance in incorporating behaviour in relation to both internal model functionality and in terms of responsiveness to and interaction with the external user environment. Insights are offered into the trade- offs made in practice and what the learning is in relation to reconciling seemingly competing objectives of simplicity for better interaction with external users and complexity for better responsiveness to changing policy and behavioural responsiveness.
The papers presented at the 2015 State of Australian Cities National Conference (SOAC 7) were organised into seven broad themes but all shared, to varying degrees, a common focus on the ways in which high quality academic research can be used in the development and implementation of policy. The relationship between empirical evidence and theoretical developments that are presented as part of our scholarly endeavours and policy processes is rarely clear and straightforward. Sometimes, perhaps because of the fortuitous alignment of various factors, our research has a direct and positive impact on policy. Sometimes it takes longer to be noticed and have influence and, sometimes, there is no little or no evidence of impact beyond or even with the academy. And while there are things we can do to promote the existence of our work and to present it in more accessible formats to people we believe to be influential, ultimately the appreciation and application of our work lies in the hands of others.
This paper is one of 164 papers that have each been reviewed and refereed by our peers and revised accordingly. While they each will have been presented briefly at the SOAC conference, they can now be read or re-read at your leisure. We hope they will stimulate further debate and discussion and form a platform for further research.
Adapted from the SOAC 7 conference proceedings introduction by Paul Burton and Heather Shearer
The State of Australian Cities (SOAC) national conferences have been held biennially since 2003 to support interdisciplinary policy-related urban research.
SOAC 7 was held in the City of Gold Coast from 9-11 December 2015. The conference featured leading national and local politicians and policy makers who shared their views on some of the current challenges facing cities and how these might be overcome in the future.