Carl Higgs

Carl Higgs is a Research Fellow and PhD candidate in the Healthy Liveable Cities Lab of the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT University, with a background in spatial epidemiology and computational statistics.

Having completed a Master of Public Health (epidemiology and biostatistics, 2015) and a Master of Biostatistics (2018) at the University of Melbourne, Carl has been involved in the development of methods for measurement of built environment exposures for local neighbourhoods using diverse data sources for research supporting equitable delivery of urban planning policy, in Australia and internationally.

Research highlights include:

  • developing methods for calculation of a spatial Urban Liveability Index, applying these methods for calculation of spatial measures for Australia’s capital cities as reported in the 2017 Creating Liveable Cities report (winning the 2019 Planning Institute of Australia national award for Cutting Edge Research & Teaching), and the 2018 National Liveability Project which calculated liveability indicators for residential addresses across Australia’s 21 largest cities, with measures included in the Australian Government’s National Cities Performance Framework;
  • the development of a framework for visualisation of the spatial distribution of urban liveability, which formed the basis of the Australian Urban Observatory, publicly launched in 2020;
  • and the extension of these methods globally with the Bangkok Liveability and Global Indicators projects.

Methods and tools Carl has developed have supported calculation and dissemination of policy-relevant spatial urban indicators for cities in Australia and internationally using open data and an open science ethos.  The data generated from these projects have been linked with geocoded survey participant locations to better understand how urban environments influence health and wellbeing, and empower policy makers and planners with the evidence needed to enact change.

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Related Content


Creating Liveable Cities in Australia – Scorecards

2018 (ongoing)

A scorecard and priority recommendations for Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane developed using results from the 'Creating Liveable Cities in Australia' (2017) report.

News & Blog


The average regional city resident lacks good access to two-thirds of community services, and liveability suffers

16 March 2020

The way our growing cities are planned and built is becoming ever more important in building healthy, liveable and sustainable communities.


Landmark liveability research wins at national planning awards

17 May 2019

Pioneering RMIT research that delivered the first true measurement of liveability in Australia’s capital cities has been recognised with a top planning award.


Rail access improves liveability, but all regional centres are not equal

13 June 2018

Our research on the liveability of regional cities in Victoria has identified an important element: liveability in these areas requires fast, reliable and frequent rail connections to capital cities.


A Pathway to Prioritizing and Delivering Healthy and Sustainable Cities

Dr Melanie Lowe, James F. Sallis, Deborah Salvo, Ester Cerin, Geoff Boeing, Carl Higgs, et al.

Journal of City Climate Policy and Economy

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A repeated cross-sectional and longitudinal study of mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19 lockdowns in Victoria, Australia

Annemarie Wright, Alysha De Livera, Keun Hee Lee, Carl Higgs, Matthew Nicholson, Lisa Gibbs, Anthony Jorm

BMC Public Health

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Measuring, monitoring and translating urban liveability in Bangkok: Final Research Report

Dr Amanda Alderton, Carl Higgs, Kornsupha Nitvimol, Associate Professor Melanie Davern, Joana Correia, Iain Butterworth, Professor Hannah Badland

An international case study with implications for Australian cities

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Determining thresholds for spatial urban design and transport features that support walking to create healthy and sustainable cities: findings from the IPEN Adult study

Ester Cerin, James F Sallis, Deborah Salvo, Erica Hinckson, Terry L Conway, Neville Owen, Delfien van Dyck, Dr Melanie Lowe, Carl Higgs, et al.

Lancet Global Health Series

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City planning policies to support health and sustainability: an international comparison of policy indicators for 25 cities

Dr Melanie Lowe, Deepti Adlakha, James F Sallis, Deborah Salvo, Ester Cerin, Anne Vernez Moudon, Carl Higgs, et al.

The Lancet Global Health

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