This pilot will use data and insights to explore how public spaces in our municipality can meet the needs and improve the experiences of the people who live, work and play in these spaces.

This project was one of three winning projects selected as pilots through the Reimagining the City challenge.

The details

This pilot will aim to test how we can leverage data to build new types of on-street experiences that match what people want to do in different areas of the city. For example, eating take away outside, connecting with family and friends. By bringing together a multi-disciplinary team we can pilot and trial data informed design and decision making to create public spaces in the city that are more attractive and encourage people to stay, connect and enjoy the city.

What we are trying to understand

The objective of this pilot is to help us understand:

  • How the way we use our neighbourhoods has changed during the pandemic
  • How our public spaces could change to fit the new needs of our community, including helping us to feel safer and more socially connected
  • How public spaces can promote social activities and contact with people in the future
  • What public spaces currently reflect the local culture and diverse living situations
  • Why people use some public spaces and not others
  • What makes urban furniture (for example seating in our parks) successful or not and how that looks.

Once completed, the data will be analysed and used to potentially help us create and design public spaces in our municipality so that they can support the needs of our residents, businesses, visitors and wider community.

What’s next?

Phase one now completed – Data analysis at three locations.

Using two data sources; City of Melbourne’s data from pedestrian sensor network (you can see the data firsthand on City of Melbourne’s Pedestrian Counting System) and purchased data from telecommunications companies (with both data sources containing de-identified data), we analysed people's movement at these locations. Explore the data via the maps below.

Phase two: Place Auditing

Three smaller sites of interest at the following locations have been chosen for this stage of the pilot: Drummond Street, Macarthur Square and Argyle Square. These sites were selected because they demonstrated moderate pedestrian activity (orange colour) and the physical spaces exhibited potential for exploration and testing. We also considered things like existing furniture, pedestrian flow, cars and parking, shade, plants and lighting.

View the pedestrian movement maps below or learn more in ‘The pilot process’.

Phase three: Designing

The data collected through place auditing is being used by designers at Spark Furniture to inform a new piece of infrastructure for the Drummond Street median strip, in Carlton.

Once this phase has been completed, the creation will be installed for testing and analysis. Data will be collected to understand the impact of the design on this site and to the people who live, work and visit there.

How to get involved

Stay tuned for updates on this pilot by clicking on the Follow button above.

For more information, contact us at

Data analysis

The red spots indicate high pedestrian movement, orange represents moderate pedestrian movement and green represents low pedestrian movement. Select GIFs to see movement data animation.

Place auditing

During place audits, auditors document how many people pass through the space capturing demographics of age and gender, as well as mode of transport, to understand patterns, obstacles and desire lines.



  • Timeline item 1 - complete

    Selection as one of three winners for the Reimagining the City challenge

    May 2021

  • Timeline item 2 - complete

    Pilot kick-off

    July 2021

  • Timeline item 3 - complete

    Stakeholder engagement to identify focus areas.

    August 2021

  • Timeline item 4 - complete

    Data analysis

  • Timeline item 5 - complete

    Stakeholder engagement to identify three small focus sites

  • Timeline item 6 - complete

    Place auditing

  • Timeline item 7 - complete

    Analysis and selection of one final site – Drummond Street median

  • Timeline item 8 - active

    Design development phase 

  • Timeline item 9 - incomplete


  • Timeline item 10 - incomplete


  • Timeline item 11 - incomplete

    Community consultation, analysis and review

The pilot process

A broad range of City of Melbourne employees who work in open space planning, parks and city greening, urban design and more participated in a workshop. We asked attendees to share experiences of living, working and playing in the City of Melbourne, either personal experiences or known experiences representing other people or groups that they had learned through project work.

This led to the selection of three large areas, approximately 500 metres by 500 metres, where we pursued further insights via data analysis. These areas included.

Data analysis begins with compiling data, and for this project, there were two data sources; City of Melbourn’s data from pedestrian sensor network (you can see the data firsthand on City of Melbourne’s Pedestrian Counting System) and purchased data from telecommunications companies. Both data sources contained only de-identified data. The data is created when WIFI and Bluetooth devices periodically broadcast messages that indicate their presence or participation in a network. This helps us understand people movement in our city spaces.

Altometer have been turning data into insights across three City of Melbourne locations. This process revealed behaviour patterns and further sites of interest. The project team analysed the data and considered other factors including lockdown periods and physical landmarks in order to select the next three key focus sites for this project.

To add to our understanding of these sites, Inhabit Place are conducting place audits which involves collecting observational data on-site like where people spend time, their activities and even their thoughts and feelings.

Place audits enable insights into how public spaces work at a local level. By capturing stories about how people are engaging with our spaces, we can be better informed to plan, design and maintain them.

Inhabit Place deployed seven auditors to three sites in Melbourne: Macarthur Square, Drummond Street and Argyle Square to capture observational data.

In one day of auditing, the Drummond Street site was the most popular with 2002 people observed. However, unlike Macarthur Square and Argyle Square, 95 per cent of users were passing through with only five percent spending time in the green median strip.

Key user profiles observed across the sites include:

  • Macarthur Square: locals
  • Argyle Square: workers on lunch breaks, office meet-up
  • Drummond Street: shopper, lounger

When auditors interviewed users, they discovered a variety of insights around how they feel at these sites, as well as what improvements they’d like to see here.

The following criteria were applied to determine the final site for the new furniture:

  • Is there enough pedestrian activity to test an intervention?
  • Did users demonstrate an intention to congregate in the area?
  • Does the space provide good opportunities for people to congregate (i.e. enough space, good traffic conditions etc.)?
  • Did visitors express other desires or needs during interviews?
  • Could the design developed for this site be used for other sites around Melbourne?

Other areas considered in the furniture designs include:

  • Transport behaviours and any potential for positive impact
  • Existing furniture and the amenity it provides
  • Perceptions of safety
  • Macro opportunities (i.e. is it a thoroughfare between significant hubs?)

The Drummond Street median in Carlton was determined as the final site.

Download our Place audits at the link below to dive into the data:

More on the technology

We are currently developing the technology and data platforms we will use for this pilot. Subscribe for updates to get the latest information when it becomes available.

Emerging Technology Testbed