Life on the Fringe Part 2: A social data investigation into greenfields property development

In Part Two of our two-part series on greenfields developments, Lucinda Hartley details how we can better meet the challenges for Australia’s fastest growing areas.

How we use social data for greenfield developments

Neighbourlytics collects social data on-demand for neighbourhoods around the world. Here are five ways that social data can help optimise planning outcomes for new greenfield developments:

  • There is never a blank slate: Understand what’s already there

In the same way that we would undertake a cultural heritage survey or ecological survey, collecting social data provides an analysis of the existing social life and what’s important to people who use the area. Starting with the existing strengths, social data enables you to take an asset-based approach to community development that is authentic and helps to develop unique identity.

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  • Understand your customer

Understanding the behaviors and values of communities that are adjacent to new developments can assist in better understanding who is likely to be attracted to your new development. Beyond community surveys, social data is your chance to see what they truly value. Let’s remember that location data is up to 5 times more accurate than demographic data in understanding behaviour.

  • Gaps analysis helps prioritise investment

How people use places is often very different from the assets that are there. There could be a park located in a neighbourhood that is the centre of the community and a catalyst for local programs and events, or a park could be underutilised and unsafe. Understanding where people spend time and how places are used is a much more reliable way of understanding which assets are needed and to de-risk decision making. This is of particular importance when you also consider the impacts of the experience economy on planning.

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  • Set performance targets

It is common practice to monitor the performance of traffic over time, but social life is not commonly monitored in the same way. While PlanTech is sprouting up everywhere to assist with traditional practices, we must also adopt the benefits of technology to help set social targets and compare performance for the often missing-pillar of ESG (Environment, Social, Governance). How are your greenfield neighbourhoods performing in different suburbs, different cities, or around the world? You can use these insights to establish data-driven sustainability targets for social life, activity and community assets.

  • Measure neighbourhood wellbeing over time

How greenfield neighbourhoods evolve into communities over time is critical to their success. Social data is a real time metric, it enables you to see changes month on month, year on year. Measure how well neighbourhoods are thriving based on their social life.

All over the world rapid urban development has resulted in neighbourhoods that look physically similar, but the social life remains varied.

All over the world rapid urban development has resulted in neighbourhoods that look physically similar, but the social life remains varied.

Measure how well neighbourhoods are thriving based on their social life.
— Lucinda Hartley

Lucinda Hartley

I’m an urban designer and social entrepreneur who has spent the past decade pioneering innovative methods to improve the social sustainability of cities, now being implemented around the world. 

As a co-founder at Neighbourlytics, I bring my social innovation and entrepreneurship strengths to harness big data, and deliver community insights that inform evidence-based urban development decisions. Neighbourlytics is backed by BlueChilli Group’s highly competitive She Starts program.