Australia mapped in unprecedented detail

By on 13 November, 2018

PSMA Australia’s Geoscape dataset has been expanded nationally, mapping every building on the continent with a roof area greater than nine square metres.

Dubbing the project a ‘Buildings Census’, PSMA Australia has mapped and calculated the total number of buildings in Australia, breaking the data down by urban and rural areas, remote areas, those with swimming pools and those with solar panels.

Tree and land cover for Australia’s entire landmass has also been captured, along with every building’s location and footprint and, in urban areas and remote communities, every building’s elevation, height, roof materials, solar panels, nearby trees and swimming pools.

PSMA Australia CEO, Dan Paull, said that this new dataset represents the first time that a mapping project this comprehensive has been carried out across an entire continent.

“This is a landmark achievement for data technology. Having essential, location-based intelligence mapped on a national scale for the first time will drive Australian innovation. People inherently understand that location, like time, provides a framework for analysis, revealing insights previously invisible,” he said.

Paull said that the richness of Geoscape lends itself to a vast array of applications, pointing to its use by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) to identify buildings within scope of new combustible cladding legislation.

“By identifying features like building height and floor area, the QBCC can locate eligible buildings, which is a key step in ensuring building owners are complying with requirements to assess cladding, helping reduce the chance of serious fires,” he said.

The expansion of of Geoscape across Australia’s 7.6 million square kilometres has yielded some interesting insights from the new data. You can compare some broad indicators across states in the chart below.

PSMA Australia has released some key state-based facts based on analysis of this new data, which we publish below.

New South Wales

  • NSW is home to nearly a third of Australia’s population (31.68%), but contains closer to a quarter of the country’s buildings (27.84%).
  • Despite its reputation for sunnier weather, NSW has almost the same proportion of buildings with solar panels, in ‘urban’ areas, (8.2%) as Victoria (7.9%).


  • Despite being less than a third of the size of NSW in area and with a population of 1.5 million less, Victoria has only 275,612 fewer buildings.
  • Victoria has the tallest building at rooftop, Eureka Tower, at 293m and largest building, Melbourne Airport (187,490m2) in the country.


  • The ‘Sunshine State’ lives up to its name. Not only does Queensland have the highest proportion of buildings with solar panels in ‘urban’ areas (15.84% of buildings in Queensland ‘urban’ areas have them), it is also the state with the highest number of buildings in ‘urban’ areas with adjacent swimming pools at 406,366.
  • Queensland has the highest number of buildings deemed to be in ‘remote communities’[1] at 9,290, behind the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Western Australia

  • Despite being the largest state, WA has significantly fewer ‘remote communities’3 buildings than Queensland or the NT at just 1,890.

South Australia

  • Proportionally speaking, SA is Australia’s most ‘built-up’ state, with more buildings than its population would suggest. Despite representing 6.9% of Australia’s population, the state contains 9% of the nation’s buildings.
  • SA has a reputation for being one of the most environmentally conscious states. It has 8.68% of Australia’s total ‘urban’ buildings, yet accounts for 11.65% of solar panels in ‘urban’ areas.


  • Tasmania is the most ‘rural state’ with 33% of its buildings classified as ‘rural’[2].
  • Tassie has the lowest proportion of ‘urban’ buildings with a swimming pool. Only 2.26% of the state’s ‘urban’ buildings have an adjacent pool.

Australian Capital Territory

  • Over 99% (99.06%) of the buildings in the ACT are classified as being ‘urban’.
  • The ACT cannot compete with other states when it comes to tall buildings. Its tallest building (89m) is the smallest of all the Australia’s states and territories tall buildings.

Northern Territory

  • The NT has the highest proportion of ‘urban’ buildings with an adjacent pool at 23.9%.
  • Despite the hot weather in the Territory, it has the second smallest proportion of ‘urban’ buildings with solar panels at just 5.8%. Only Tasmania has fewer (5.4%).

[1] ‘Remote communities’ are areas with a population greater than 200 or with significant industrial or commercial activity, with known cultural or accessibility sensitivities.

[2] ‘Rural’ is all areas not defined as ‘Urban’ or ‘Remote Communities’.

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