• Ports of Melbourne
Case Study:

Ports of Melbourne: Providing deeper economic analysis

13 May 2019

Anders Magnusson, Economist, BDO EconSearch |

Up until 2018, the Port of Melbourne knew exactly how much value it generated in Victoria's local economy. It knew how many jobs it created, not just directly, but also indirectly through the many businesses it partnered with. What Port of Melbourne didn't know well, however, was how much value it contributed to other regions in the Australian economy. That's where BDO EconSearch came in.

Providing independent economic analysis: BDO EconSearch

EconSearch was established in 1995 as an independent research group. Merging with BDO in 2017, BDO EconSearch provides economic analysis to primary industries such as agriculture, fishing and forestry but also more broadly such as health, regional development and transport and infrastructure. BDO EconSearch has worked with Port of Melbourne in the past to provide information regarding how much economic value it created throughout Victoria.

Last year, Port of Melbourne wanted to broaden its scope. Anticipating some significant strategic planning needs, Port of Melbourne wanted to find out exactly how much value it contributes throughout the whole of Australia and at a very small scale (down to postcode areas). Access to this type of fine-scale spatial data would provide the port with a key new dimension of information for better decision making.

Because Port of Melbourne was unsure of exactly which regions it would need data for as part of strategic planning, they wanted a comprehensive set of data that could answer any question it needed to pose.

Spatial economic analysis

BDO EconSearch had been developing single-region economic models of different parts of Australia for over 20 years. To expand this economic modelling to the spatial dimension, with multiple regions, they used a platform called Industrial Ecology Laboratory (IE Lab). This is an ongoing collaboration between BDO EconSearch, universities, researchers and the private sector in Australia which allows researchers to perform this type of deeper spatial analysis. The result was a multi-region economic model of Australia.

Being such a significant port, Port of Melbourne impacts a lot of people in a lot of parts of Australia - which means a lot of data. To present this information in a meaningful way, BDO EconSearch built a Tableau dashboard, which allows users to explore and interact with large data amounts of data.

Port of Melbourne employees can now open a link and click various elements of the dashboard to answer any question they might have about the economic contribution of the port. The dashboard includes a map function to better display the spatial dimension of the data. A large document with lots of information would have been very difficult to engage with, so a dashboard based on interactive data visualisations formed a key part of the project.

The economic model BDO EconSearch developed for the project accounted for complex linkages between industries and regions, and produced results right down to the postcode level to support Port of Melbourne's strategic planning.

In total, the project took BDO EconSearch three months to complete, and involved a survey of importers and exporters that use the port as well as businesses that service the port, such as stevedores and shipping companies.

The project also included collaboration with a Maritime Economist, helping researchers gather spatial data about the origins and destinations of cargo shipped through the port.

Economic modelling and analysis services with BDO EconSearch

As the Australian economy and funding processes become more optimised, so too do the information requirements for sound decision-making. From regional and large industries to infrastructure that stretches across state lines, many businesses and projects can benefit from a deeper level of spatial and economic contribution analysis.

For more information on spatial analysis or any of our other economic modelling services, please contact BDO EconSearch today.