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A Guide to Public Life Studies in DC

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

DC’s Comprehensive Plan promotes a varied and vibrant public life for all as an important part of achieving an inclusive and prosperous Washington, DC. With this goal in mind, we study public life to improve project outcomes of public space design and activation.

A Guide to Public Life Studies in DC provides an brief overview of how to design, manage, and communicate the results of a public life study within the unique context of Washington, DC’s public realm. A public life study is a data-driven approach that applies observational, people-centric measures to inform policy, regulations, and public space design. It is used to measure and understand the human experience of our shared public realm.

Reflected in A Guide to Public Life Studies in DC is the accumulated knowledge of the DC Office of Planning from undertaking eight public life studies between 2016-2021. This guide is for anyone who may want to design, manage, or participate in a public life study, or implement its findings and recommendations. The sections of the guide include:

  • Why Study Public Life?
  • Designing the Study
  • Equity and Inclusion
  • Collecting the Data
  • Analyzing the Data
  • Communicating Findings
  • Resources

For more information on DC's public life initiatives, visit:

Questions or comments? Contact the DC Office of Planning at: [email protected].