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 first edition of the project (2019) includes accessibility estimates by active transport modes (walking and cycling) for the 20 largest cities in the country, and by public transport for 7 major cities (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 and race. Download here the full report with results and detailed methodology.


20 largest Brazilian cities

Employment, education and health

Three 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 is 357 meters long (short diagonal).

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) and publich health services (low, medium and high complexity medical care).

3. In the third step, data on public transport (GTFS format), on topography and street network are combined to calculate travel-time estimates between every pair of hexagon cells. These estimates are calculated by transport mode (walking, cycling and public transport) using OpenTripPlanner (OTP), a multimodal transportation network analysis tool. The method 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. For the 2019 edition of the project, two accessibility indicators have been calculated:

  • Minimum travel time to the closest activity
  • Cumulative opportunity measure with the proportion of activities in the city that are accessible within a given time threshold (calculated for multiple thresholds).

More info about data sources and detailed methodology here.

Partnership with Semob/MDR:

The Access to Opportunities Project is a partnership with the Secretariat for Urban Mobility of the Brazilian Ministry of Regional Development (Semob/MDR). This partnership 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/MDR team to enhance their skills on the use of transport accessibility analysis in policy evaluation.