Access to Opportunities Project

The Access to Opportunities Project is a research initiative led by the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea) with the aim to study transport accessibility and inequalities in access to opportunities in Brazilian cities.


The project has three goals:

  1. To estimate people's access to employment opportunities, health and education services by transport mode in Brazil's largest urban areas

  2. To create open datasets to monitor urban accessibility conditions in Brazilian cities on an annual basis

  3. To build research networks to use these datasets in comparative studies and in the planning and evaluation of public policies

First Results:

The Access to Opportunities Project (AOP) brings annual estimates of access to jobs, health, education and social proection services by transport mode, as well as data on the spatial distribution of population and land use activities at a fine spatial resolution for the 20 largest cities in Brazil (see figure below). To do so, the project combines data from administrative records, sample surveys, satellite imagery and collaborative mapping to calculate accessibility levels at a high spatial resolution and disaggregated by socioeconomic groups according to income level, age, sex and race. Methodological details can be found in the annual reports of the project and the data can be downloaded from here.


2017, 2018, 2019

20 cities

Employment, education, health and social protection

Transport modes

Peak and off-peak


The methodology of the project involves 4 main steps:

1. First, each city is divided using a hexagonal spatial grid where each cell has an area of 0.11 km2.

2. The hexagonal grid is then used to spatially aggreagate population data from the national census, administrative records with the location of formal jobs (low-, medium- and high-qualification jobs), public schools (early childhood, primary and high school education), publich health (low, medium and high complexity medical care) and social protection services.

3. In the third step, data on public transport (GTFS format), on topography, street network and historical traffic speed are combined to calculate travel-time estimates between every pair of hexagon cells by transport mode. Travel time estimates were calculated for cars using ArcGIS Pro with historical traffic speed data, while travel time estimates for walking, cycling and public transporte were calculated using r5r, multimodal transportation network analysis tool. The r5r tool considers door-to-door travel-time estimates, including in-vehicle times, walking, waiting as well as transfer times.

4. The results of steps (2) and (3) are combined to calculate accessibility levels by transport mode. The project, currently includes three types of accessibility indicators:

  • Minimum travel time to the closest activity
  • Active cumulative opportunity measure with the number of activities in the city that are accessible within a given time threshold.
  • Passive cumulative opportunity measure , indicating by how many people each destination can be reached within a given time threshold.


The Access to Opportunities Project has partnerships with different agencies of the Brazilian federal government .

2023-2026: Partnership with the Ministry of Social Development:

The partnership with the Ministry of Social Development and Fight Against Hunger (MDS) involves conducting a research project to map social protection deserts. The research will identify in Brazilian urban areas which neighborhoods and city blocks have low access to Social Assistance Reference Centers (CRAS).

The work will generate actionable data and information that can be used by governmental agencies to assess the challenges of expanding the spatial coverage of Brazil's Unified Registry's for Social Programs, and contribute to the design of actions aimed at improving active search strategies.

2019-2023 - Partnership with the Ministry of Cities:

The partnership with the Secretariat for Urban Mobility of the Brazilian Ministry of Cities (Semob/Mcid) involves a series of activities conducted by the Ipea team such as:

- Conducting studies on the urban mobility and accessibility conditions in Brazilian cities

- Generating annual estimates of urban accessibility for Brazil’s largest cities using open access computational scripts and data outputs. These estimates will be used to inform the elaboration of the National Plan of Urban Mobility, as well as to support the National System of Urban Mobility Information (SIMU) and to monitor the effectives of transport policies.

- Organizing seminars and workshops to disseminate this data with local governments, civil society and academic researchers.

- Conducting ex-post studies to assess the accessibility impacts of implemented transport investments, as well as examining ex-ante the future accessibility impacts of transport projects in early planning stages.

- Organizing workshops and trainings targeted to the Semob/Mcid team to enhance their skills on the use of transport accessibility analysis in policy evaluation.