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Nearly 8 million people live, work and travel within the 9 counties of the San Francisco Bay Area — making it crucial to focus on key issues such as the economy, the environment, housing, and transportation. In order to gauge the residents’ priorities, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments called upon Co:Census to gather data from their constituents — with the goal of providing a more equitable and sustainable future for all residents. This article was written by Michael Lau, Engagement Lead at Seam Social Labs, the makers of Co:Census. Co:Census simplifies collecting and analyzing qualitative data, as well as uses data and technology by publishing cities’ qualitative datasets in the Open Data Portals to increase ethical and equitable data. Tiasia O’Brien, Founder of Co:Census by Seam Social Labs is a part of Public Spend Forum’s GovMarket Growth Program, as well as Public Spend Forum and Shatter Fund’s Women-Led Tech Accelerator Cohort.

Plan Bay Area 2050 is a long-range plan charting the course for the future of the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. Launched by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), PBA 2050 will focus on four key issues – the economy, the environment, housing, and transportation – to create a path that will make the Bay Area more equitable for residents and more resilient to unexpected challenges. The MTC and the Association of Bay Area Governments plan to adopt Plan Bay Area 2050 in summer 2021.

Research question

The purpose of the Plan Bay Area study was to gather data on the key policies, programs, and strategies from residents of the Bay Area in order to develop a set of priorities for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments.


To gather representative data from constituents in the Bay Area, MTC conducted a multi-modal survey approach using online surveys and launching a text message survey on co:census.

The Problem

The four issues PBA 2050 will focus on carrying deep implications for the future of Bay Area residents. To bring members of the public into the conversation, the MTC, in partnership with Civic Edge, collaborated with co:census to launch a survey that posed questions about how to prioritize the implementation of the plan.


With the survey results, co:census conducted a general report to visualize how respondents prioritized the implementation of PBA 2050. Across the four key issues, certain implementations were clearly more favored than others. With regards to the economy, most respondents selected free internet for the underserved and building office and retail spaces near transit. When it came to the environment, respondents prioritized protecting communities most at-risk and establishing carpool and bike-share programs. Finally, relating to transportation, respondents prioritized reducing freeway interchanges and bottlenecks, building safer streets, and enhancing public transit. From these results, we found a common interest in providing resources for underserved and at-risk communities across all four issues. Respondents also expressed a strong desire for improving the transit system.

Moving forward

The MTC and the Association of Bay Area Governments are working with partner organizations and doing extensive public outreach to create an implementation plan that will bring PBA 2050 into fruition. Survey insights and other outreach methods will play a key role in shaping how the implementation is prioritized, especially with regards to supporting underserved and at-risk communities. The Draft Plan was released this spring. More information about the project can be found at

Related: How Data and Tech Can Address Traffic Congestion -- and Simultaneously Address Inequality
Related: Public Spend Forum’s GovMarket Growth Programs
Related: Public Spend Forum x Shatter Fund's Women-Led Tech Accelerator