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NorCal Planning Agency in Early Stages on Online Tool Project

The Association of Bay Area Governments, which encompasses local governments and nine counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, has released a request for qualifications for a “Data Aggregation and Reporting Tool” on behalf of the Bay Area Regional Energy Network.

A Bay Area ferry passing under a bridge.
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A regional Northern California planning agency is in the early stages of an IT project to link data sets and wants to hear from vendors.

In a request for qualifications (RFQ) released Wednesday, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), which encompasses local governments and nine counties in the San Francisco Bay area, seeks a “Data Aggregation and Reporting Tool” on behalf of the Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN). Among the takeaways:

  • ABAG and BayREN are closely linked; on its website, ABAG describes BayREN as “a significant project in our ABAG portfolio of services” and a collaboration between its nine counties — Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma, including their cities and towns. BayREN aims, generally, to help “single-family residents” and business and property owners cut energy costs; and to help local governments meet state energy codes. The Network administers a portfolio of six “energy and water efficiency programs” according to the RFQ, each of which has a “designated program manager/lead who maintains a separate database housing their program’s data.” BayREN doesn’t have a central database or repository; rather, it has “six isolated data sets requiring manual, time-intensive processes to display the impacts of multiple programs (i.e., multiple databases).” A Data Aggregation and Reporting Tool, the RFQ says, would reduce this burden by “automatically interacting with the six existing databases to retrieve data on a predetermined frequency (e.g., monthly), transform the data into common metrics, and consolidate data from multiple programs into customizable reports.” Such a tool should be capable of being hosted by ABAG/MTC and accessible to approximately 25 users, including staff from ABAG/the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and each of the nine counties. Per the California Air Resources Board, ABAG/MTC are jointly charged with regional planning for the “nine county, 101 city San Francisco Bay area” including developing plans around long range regional transportation. BayREN has proposed to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that it launch four additional programs starting in 2024; if the CPUC approves — and a ruling is expected in mid-2023 — the database would also have to incorporate data from these programs and any work contract would likely be amended.
  • Any future project resulting from the RFQ would have several areas of guidance. In 2021, BayREN adopted a 2025 Strategic Plan; and based on goals and metrics in that plan, it worked with a consultant on database recommendations to “provide potential metrics and database alignment.” Those recommendations categorize metrics into four reporting levels: CPUC, organization, program, and personnel-level metrics. The RFQ advises respondents to review these recommendation guides as a basis for “preparing additional discovery and database development.” There is a database recommendations guide and database metrics and field recommendations.
  • The database types and their lead agencies are ABAG/MTC, which has databases on single-family information, via Salesforce and on Codes & Standards via Google Drive; the Energy Council on behalf of Alameda County jurisdictions, which has two databases on multifamily and green labeling, both in Salesforce; the Regional Climate Protection Authority on behalf of Sonoma County jurisdictions, which has a database on Water Upgrades Save, via Smartsheet; and San Francisco, which has a database on commercial information via Salesforce. These databases have personally identifiable information such as addresses, phone numbers and utility account numbers that would have to be removed or masked by any new tool. BayREN programs are “generally available” in ABAG’s nine counties but the counties that don’t lead a program don’t have separate databases and rely on the lead agency for program data on projects in their jurisdictions. This project’s major objectives include reducing the reliance on and administrative burden for program leads/managers; improving the quality and consistency of reportable data; and creating “scalable” reporting options that identify program impacts at varying levels. BayREN envisions these primary activities, according to the RFQ: a discovery phase to “ascertain the size, complexity, structure, and other defining characteristics of the six existing databases”; formulating an “informed solution” with a consolidated data aggregation and reporting tool; developing that tool and aggregation; and providing ongoing operations and maintenance support. These are also listed as areas of work for a consultant in the RFQ’s preliminary scope of work. The anticipated release date is during February; responses to the RFQ are due by 9 a.m. March 31.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.