You are here


Real-Time Porosity

Real-Time Porosity

Real-Time Porosity

The key aim of the Real-Time Porosity project is to better understand pedestrian movement in public and private spaces. The project does so by using computer gaming technology to develop the theoretical and empirical application of “Porosity”—a system for the representation of the public permeability of the city. A greater understanding of human interaction with the built environment is granted by the “Porosity index” of buildings and spaces, which takes into account architectural data and observations of use over time to increase anticipatory capabilities with respect to human movement.

Real-Time Porosity creates virtual environments that parallel real world activity, most importantly pedestrian interaction with infrastructure in urban environments. The connection between the real environments and their virtual counterparts are made through the implementation of environmental sensors. The resulting virtual environments, which visualise Porosity in real-time, greatly advance the ability to map, test and analyse pedestrian movement in Sydney and other large cities around the world. As such, Porosity research is responding to dramatic changes in patterns of use and levels of accessibility that have given rise to new efforts to coordinate the mapping, screening, and modeling of public space around the globe.

The combination of computer gaming technology and environmental sensors is opening a new and rich field of exploration for the insights and theories of Porosity research in relation to urban planning, and the social construction of the city. Mapping urban spaces through a framework of perception influenced by observations pertaining to habitation and usage, the research suggests unprecedented possibilities for applications in the areas of security and the improvement of public space and infrastructure. On the subject of implementation, the NSW State Government—a sponsor of the research—states that the new mapping technique 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.”

Real-Time Porosity was supported by the Emergency Information Co-Ordination Unit (EICU), NSW State Government, and the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Project funding scheme (LP0991589)

Project date

2009 to 2012


Richard Goodwin
Russell Lowe

Julian Cromarty
Tina Salama
Vinh Nguyen
Joshua Harle

Emergency Information Co-Ordination Unit (EICU)
NSW State Government

Related Centres and Groups