Public Life Program

We believe that streets and sidewalks full of social and commercial activity have the power to improve the city’s health, prosperity, and happiness. Collecting data about these activities allows us to measure how the city is fulfilling its goal of having vibrant, active, and well-used public spaces. A specific type of research—called a public life study—does exactly this by measuring the number of people using our public spaces and the types of activities they are engaged in. The results of a public life study provide us with people-centered data to make investment decisions, evaluate designs and interventions, and understand what makes a successful public space.

2019 Yesler Crescent Public Life Action Plan

In May and July 2019, with the help of dozens of volunteers, we collected public life data in the “Yesler Crescent” area of Pioneer Square, including City Hall Park, Prefontaine Place, and blockfaces along 2nd Ave Ext S from Yesler Way to S Main St. Over the past few months, we have collected additional data through intercept surveys of users of these spaces, as well as focus groups with local stakeholders. This feedback, along with our observational data, will inform the development of a Public Life Action Plan for the area which will identify opportunities for enhancing the user experience of these public spaces and encourage more activity. We will share the Public Life Action Plan with the public by the end of 2019, which will include key findings, recommendations, and strategies for funding and coordinating design improvements to these spaces.

Want to explore the latest public life data we collected from spaces in the Yesler Crescent? Dive in site by site using our new interactive dashboard.

A screenshot of the interactive dashboard

2018 Citywide Study

In the summer of 2018, we collected data on our streets and sidewalks across the city to develop baseline indicators of public life and vibrancy. Our Guide for Data Collectors provides complete details on how the study was conducted. We encourage you to read our report and explore our interactive dashboard, which compiles the public life data we collected across Seattle.

Guide for Data Collectors cover
Guide for Data Collectors

Public Life Study 2018 Executive Summary cover
Public Life Study:
2018 Executive Summary

Public Life Study 2018 Summary Report cover
Public Life Study:
2018 Summary Report
Public Life Data Protocol
Public Life Data Protocol

Complete datasets are published by SDOT through the City's Open Data Portal and can be accessed from the following links:

The data collected is consistent with the Public Life Data Protocol developed in a partnership with the Gehl Institute, the City of San Francisco, the City of Copenhagen and SDOT, which establishes a common format and structure for public life data to better facilitate comparisons across different cities and regions. You can find information about public life study methods on the Gehl Institute’s website.

In 2018, Urban Design 4 Health was contracted by the City of Seattle and provided full data collection and development of the electronic data collection and entry process.


Are you interested in conducting a public life study in your neighborhood? Would you like more information? Do you have any questions? Please let us know at

We look forward to hearing from you!