2017 survey

We are encouraging local businesses to take part in the 2017 floor space and employment survey to provide a snapshot of Sydney's most popular industries, number of jobs in the city and changing trends in employment.

From April 2017 a team of 30 surveyors will visit more than 11,000 non-residential buildings over a 9-month period. The survey takes place every 5 years following the national census. 

Surveyors will complete a visual inspection of more than 48 million square metres of internal and external floor space. They will collect data on the number, size and type of businesses, the number of workers employed in each industry, and how floor space is used across the city.

The study provides vital information to help the City of Sydney plan for the future.  

The survey was one of the first of its kind when it started in the 1970s, and it is now recognised as one of the most comprehensive in the world. 

New York City has described our work as best practice and in 2017 the City has tertiary students from various institutions across Sydney taking part in the fieldwork.

When the survey started in 1976, we had a team of draftspeople help us draw up plans of every floor of every building across the city centre. Now, the survey uses tablets and GIS to build 3D maps (see map below).

While the technology has changed, the process we follow and the data we collect is exactly the same 40 years later.

The results of the 2017 FES survey are expected to be available from July 2018.

Counting every square metre

Every 5 years the City of Sydney conducts a floor space and employment survey (FES) of all buildings and businesses across the whole local area. The most recent survey results were collected from January 2012 over a 10-month period.

The data collected from the survey informs short and long-term strategic planning and helps us monitor trends in land use, building characteristics, employment and parking around the local area.

The 2012 FES has been used to support the City's economic development strategy among other Council strategies and projects.

Data from the 2007 survey, for example, was used to support the plans and decisions made for Sustainable Sydney 2030.

Profile mapping

The survey has coincided with the Census of Population and Housing since 1976, which is conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Using FES data in conjunction with census data helps build a detailed profile of the social and economic characteristics of the local area.

FES 2007 and FES 2012 cover the local area's expanded boundaries and use GIS to capture the information, which is shown in the visual map below.

Survey process

As part of FES fieldwork, surveyors approach a key contact person for each business to give them access to all floors and ensure all spaces associated with the business or building are fully captured through visual inspection.

Our surveyors capture a diverse range of information directly during the fieldwork including the type of business operating, how long the business has been at the current premises and the number of full and part-time employees on each floor.

Your business size will determine how long the surveyor spends in your premises collecting information. Usually small businesses take no more than 5 minutes, medium-sized operations take between 5 to 30 minutes while larger businesses that occupy more than 5 floors may take up to a few hours.

Although taking part in FES is not compulsory, we encourage and value highly the participation of local businesses. All specific business-related data collected during the survey remains confidential and it is not released to the public. The results are instead aggregated and presented in reports and tables that cannot identify specific business operations.

Data analysis

Through FES we can track patterns and monitor trends in businesses, employment and floor space that can help determine, for example, whether adequate parking is available, how many cafés and restaurants are near entertainment venues and the locations of certain industries across the local area.

Ultimately, we use the data for a wide range of purposes that informs our long-term strategic planning decisions and provides direction for the growth and development of the City.

FES data is also available for use by businesses, developers and residents providing our stakeholders with a valuable source of information about the local area.


Last updated: Thursday, 5 April 2018