Interactive Digital Map Showcases Best of Western Sydney

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As Western Sydney embraces a raft of new developments, Western Sydney University is asking locals to help create an emotional heat map of the region through a digital project mapping the most loved and loathed local spots.

In Western Sydney is an interactive online map developed to capture public feeling about the local landmarks, hidden treasures and no-go zones located across Australia’s multicultural heartland. 

Users log into the website and digitally mark the locations that either provide inspiration or cause grief, and can add comments, photos and stories to illustrate why the area is important to them.

Institute of Culture and Society researcher Associate Professor Amanda Third says the aim is to create a digital representation of the way people feel about the many varied parts of Western Sydney.

“Everyone has their own special memories and moments, and In Western Sydney will create a historical record of the places and moments in time that arouse people’s emotions,” she says.

“We are asking locals to visit the website and document how they feel about places in Western Sydney. They can make a simple report by answering some quick questions, but they can also upload photos and share their stories. These can range from the park where they won their first rugby game, the restaurant where they meet the extended family, or the local dives that are best avoided. The research team will analyse the results and feed them back to local and state government .”

Home to over two million residents, Western Sydney has one of the most diverse multicultural communities in Australia, with almost one third of residents born overseas, and 50% either first or second generation Australians.

In Western Sydney will capture their feelings and connections to the region at a crucial time, as Western Sydney prepares for tens of billions of dollars of developments, including a new airport, road links and cultural institutions. 

Associate Professor Third says In Western Sydney will capture the remarkable variety of voices across the region and help inform city planners as they roll out plans for urban renewal. 

“Western Sydney is undergoing a massive transformation as new infrastructure projects such as the new Badgery’s Creek airport, road links and the relocated Powerhouse Museum take shape,” she says.

“By recording the opinions of local residents, we’re building a new map of western Sydney, an emotional map, and in doing so contributing to conversations about the future planning and design of our great city.”

“Importantly, this information will be collated at the end of the project and available to the public, with the aim of using these insights to inform the planning process as our region continues its remarkable transformation.”

This project is a collaboration between Western Sydney University researchers at the Institute for Cultural and Society, the School of Humanities and Communication Arts, and the Young and Well CRC. 

Find out more information about the research team and their sister project invisiblecity (opens in a new window). 

Posted 26 May 2016.