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Open data powers affordability app


You and your partner (if you have one) are working in Auckland/Canterbury/Wellington. What are the most affordable suburbs for you, in terms of rent and commute costs?

Affordability in NZ is an open source web application, created by transportation consultancy MRCagney, that uses open government data and a mapping interface to enable people to find out which suburbs will be most affordable for them.

Users enter details for income, rental property size, work location, transport method, and more. Suburbs are then colour coded by their affordability. 

Photo of Alex.Lead Developer Alex Raichev pointed out that transport costs are a big chunk of spending for working people – and are often overlooked when costs are worked out. The app enables comparisons between walking, cycling, driving and using public transport. “Users can cost their commute time, too,” Alex said.

The app was originally published in late 2013, and relaunched in May this year using a different dataset for rental bond data, making it easier to update. (It is now updated every calendar quarter.)

Open government data sources

Almost all the datasets used in the app are open and several are open government datasets.

Alex said that using the government datasets was straightforward because they were permissively licensed and cleanly formatted.

Other sources

Google Maps matrix API was used to calculate commute distances and times, while car commute and car ownership costs came from MaMo2014.

Data wrangling

Alex used Python, with the libraries Pandas, GeoPandas, and Requests. The front end of the application is static and powered by HTML, CSS, and RapydScript.

The Affordability in NZ website is also open source: its data and source code can be found on Gitlab.

“Contributors are welcome,” said Alex. “There’s room for expansion. Contributors might want to add other regions, such as Waikato.”


Alex Raichev, Lead Developer:



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