New City Mapping Techniques – Real Time Porosity Lenses

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

A new form of mapping a city by visualising and sonifying pedestrian movement in real time is being pioneered at UNSW. These techniques will improve our understanding of the way people move about a city, which will benefit public space planning, events management, counter terrorism and crime prevention.

In 1996, UNSW’s Professor Richard Goodwin created a theory of mapping a city that acknowledges a hybrid form of public/private space. This approach traces the pathways and time spent by pedestrians in privately owned spaces engaging in activities that are normally understood as public. For example, sitting in the waiting room at your dentist.

The Faculty of Built Environment and the College of Arts are extending this work by developing new city mapping techniques that use computer gaming technology to visualise and sonify pedestrian movement through public and private space in Sydney.  Sonification is a technique that uses sound to represent data.

The ability to map and analyse pedestrian movements in public and private spaces will enable a more complete understanding of the use of urban space in a major Australian city. It will assist authorities to balance the need to maintain freedom of circulation, with the need to anticipate and mitigate the impacts of catastrophic events on a city, such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks.

A video on this project is available at:



Professor Richard Goodwin
School of Art, School of Design Studies, Porosity
College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales
Visiting Professor
Donghua University, Shanghai, China
National Tsing Hua University, Beijing, China
(+61) (2) 9550 9181


Russell Lowe
Faculty of the Built Environment