Austin AI Housing Analysis

Project Summary

Lack of affordable housing is a major problem in US cities from the Bay Area to Boston. Austin is no exception: in 2015 the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area was named one of the most economically segregated areas in the country. With in-migration continuing (roughly 3000 people per month), the disparity will worsen.

This research project will develop a value-driven AI system that can evaluate historical housing development and help policymakers shape equitable, inclusive and sustainable plans and regulations. Using deep learning technology and an open data repository with demographic, development, transportation, and energy consumption data, this system will link and study 50 years of Austin housing development data – and tackle the history and future of local housing. More specifically, we ask:

  • How has housing development shifted over the past 50 years in relation to changes in policies, plans, property values, transportation costs, and energy costs?
  • Are there significant spatial and demographic relationships between housing affordability, mobility and energy use over the past 50 years?
  • What are the future likelihoods of these patterns? Can we predict how development might change given different regulatory variables?

We propose to develop the project in four iterative phases. First, we will design and develop a web-based housing development data repository. Second, we will run historical data analysis based on the data repository. Third, we will build a predictive AI system trained and tested on the data repository. Finally, we will conduct broad government and community outreach for system testing and results dissemination.

Our research aims to evaluate and inform urban residential development policies in Austin. The techniques and findings developed from this study can also be applied to many similar cities nationally and internationally.

PI: Junfeng Jiao (Architecture)

Weijia Xu (Texas Advanced Computing Center)

Michelle Addington (Architecture)

Ming Zhang (Architecture)

Jake Wegmann (Architecture)

Katie Pierce Meyer (University of Texas Libraries)

Hao Zhu (Electrical and Computer Engineering)

Amin Azimian (Architecture)

Josh Conrad (Architecture)

Cara Bertron (City of Austin Planning and Zoning Department)

Matt Dugan (City of Austin Planning and Zoning Department)

John Clary (City of Austin Transportation Department)

Molly Emerick (Austin Energy)

Matt Hollon (City of Austin Watershed Protection Department)

Jacquie Hrncir (City of Austin Communications & Technology Management Department)

Award Year


Research Topics

Smart Cities