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Tracking Sydney's creative industries

‘Catch and Release’ is a bespoke GPS research project conducted for the Creative Sydney Festival, with funding from the City of Sydney Council. In the absence of detailed spatial information about where creative activity resides in the city, this research aims to uncover where creatives travel and interact in Sydney.

A pilot study enacted for the festival’s 2010 program tracked 14 creatives for a couple of days each. Each participant was provided with a GPS datalogger that recorded their location every 5 seconds as they went about their normal activities.

The first cohort of 14 participants came from the design sector, with preliminary results indicating a concentration of activity and movement in and around Surry Hills. At first glance this result implies that Surry Hills is a design ‘hub’ for Sydney. But equally, the patterns of movement reflect Sydney’s transport layout. Surry Hills is positioned next to Central railway station, where a number of the city’s major roads also intersect. Participants’ tracks were funnelled through the Surry Hills area, regardless of their final destination.

The above visualisation shows our 14 participants movements over a single day. Two further visualisations were generated: One showing all participants on a fully interactive google map and the other focusing on 2 participants who took photographs during their day. These photos are revealed at the point of capture as the path animation unfolds.

Future Plans

Results shown here constitute our pilot study and it is hoped that over the coming months ‘Catch and Release’ will recruit and cover many more sectors from Sydney’s creative industries. Musicians, artists, performers, architects, web developers, photographers, actors and film and television workers (to name but a few!) are all encouraged to take part and help us complete the picture.

If you are a Sydney-based creative and would like to take part, please get in touch:

We hope to present the other visualisations on this site very soon.

Research Team

The research was carried out by human geographers Chris Brennan-Horley and Chris Gibson (University of Wollongong) with recruitment and logistical assistance from Jess Scully and Jonathon Rodgers (Creative Sydney). GPS Create handled animation design and implementation.


Post presentation interview package from Creative Sydney: Networks + Clusters, Saturday June 5.

Chris Brennan-Horley's presentation slides

Chris Gibson's presentation slides