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How a Partnership Based on Innovation Helps Expand Access to Public Meetings


Serving riders across two counties in San Francisco’s East Bay, the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) looked to leverage growth in public meeting participation during the pandemic into increased access and transparency for the public they serve. Granicus provided the tools and partnership to build new initiatives that saw dramatic results.

“We look at everything Granicus does, new solutions that they’re providing, and see how we can weave them into our current processes…. They’re product is reliable and helps us do our jobs more efficiently.”
Linda Nemeroff, Board Administrative Officer/District Secretary, AC Transit District


  • 1,490 citizen subscribed to notifications (from 35)
  • 2 extra days allowed for agenda submissions due to increased efficiency
  • Savings on postage and paper cost due to QR code delivery
  • $1,000 annually, not including staff time
Must have Granicus Solutions

Increased Audience, Increased Needs

Large metropolitan areas, such as those in the San Francisco Bay area, can attract diverse populations that bring with them an equally diverse set of needs. However, one part of city life touches members in all areas of even the largest communities: transportation.

Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) serves riders across two counties in San Francisco’s East Bay, including both the western portion of Contra Costa County and inner East Bay Area of Alameda County. This special district also provides “Transbay” routes across the San Francisco Bay to the Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco and select areas of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

The breadth of AC Transit’s service is also reflected in the board that governs it, with seven elected members. Meeting the needs to inform and prepare both this diverse board and the wide population it serves in a timely manner puts time pressures on AC Transit staff, especially with an internal culture that has placed an emphasis on public transparency for decades.

“When I began working for AC Transit 18 years ago, there wasn’t necessarily a transparency mindset,” said Linda Nemeroff, Board Administrative Officer and District Secretary. “It’s been one of the things that I thought was most needed and have championed for over the years. Leveraging the support that I had from the board, and having a great general manager that really wants to foster that ideal, has allowed us to get where we are today.”

That dedication to serving the community with innovative thinking was recently recognized by Granicus, who honored AC Transit with a 2023 Trust and Transparency Award, as well as the American Public Transportation Association, which awarded AC Transit the 2023 Outstanding Public Transportation System Award.

One recent focus in AC Transit’s ongoing effort toward innovation has been improving public access to meetings and, particularly, for people with disabilities. Like most government agencies, Nemeroff said that she saw an increase in public participation during the pandemic though virtual board meetings. However, she said that they didn’t anticipate the changing constituent needs for related information because of that increase.

“Because meetings were being held virtually and offered more convenience for attendees, we quickly learned that our approach to community engagement in terms of the information we provide to the public about our meetings didn’t quite align with the public’s new expectations and growing demands and thirst for information,” she said.

Since the reduction in pandemic-related restrictions for public meetings, Nemeroff said that the popularity of virtual meetings continues to grow due to the geographic span of AC Transit’s service area, presenting new ways to reach underserved communities, those with disabilities, and younger community members.

“We’ve made it easier to attend a meeting,” she said. “Now it’s our responsibility to make it easy for them to access information with one click versus sifting through a whole agenda looking or surfing a website.


A Partnership Built on Innovation

With an eye toward improving ADA accessibility, Nemeroff’s staff examined internal processes and existing notification methods for focused improvements in four areas: agendas, minutes, Zoom links, and meeting notifications. Longtime users of both Granicus’ agenda management and messaging tools, Nemeroff knew that once she had identified potential improvements Granicus would be a trustworthy partner for success.

“I like to think that based on our experience and knowledge of Granicus products, we’re really super users,” she said. “We’re not afraid test the boundaries of the system and don’t need the IT department to help us with things we know we have the expertise to do ourselves. We look at new solutions that (Granicus provides) and see how we can weave them into our current processes. Sometimes things work, sometimes things don’t. But we’re always looking for constant improvement.”

A close relationship with their Granicus Customer Success Representative and Account Manager, Nemeroff said, was vital to the implementation of ADA focused changes.

First, accessible agendas and meeting minutes were added, converting existing agendas and minutes originally uploaded in PDF format to HTML, making them more friendly for the screen-reader tools that readers with disabilities use. Next, the team worked with Granicus to create clickable Zoom links to meetings on their InSite public meetings page.

“While this was a somewhat small and simple change, it offered greater convenience to the public who would no longer need to open a meeting agenda to access a clickable Zoom link and leave the website,” Nemeroff said. “I think AC Transit was one of the first, if not the first, to express a need for this and Granicus responded.”

Nemeroff said that they also made changes to the SendAgenda tool within govMeetings and, through trial and error, developed a workaround internally to show an Accessible Agenda link in meeting notifications as well as a clickable Zoom link, which provided another easy, convenient, no hassle way for members of the public to join a meeting.

While Nemeroff’s team and Granicus worked to make meeting materials more accessible through govMeetings, increasing awareness and access to those materials came through a new campaign using QR codes and Granicus’ govDelivery messaging platform.

“We stopped mailing agendas out to libraries and other outlets,” she said. “Instead, we had placards made for every library in our service area to post with a QR code on it. Users can scan it, go directly to our page, and review materials there or subscribe for notifications of when new materials are added.”


Explosive Growth and a Change in Culture

The combination of implementing SendAgenda features, while making it easier for the public to access and sign up for meeting notifications, has created a dramatic increase in subscriptions.

Interest in AC Transit’s inter-agency liaison committee (ILC) meetings and Accessibility Advisory Committee meetings (now known as the General Manager’s Access Committee) have seen perhaps the most significant climbs. Where previously the number of subscribers to either mailing list hovered around 35, the ILC subscriber list now has over 1,490 subscribers, while the General Manager’s Access Committee has grown to 1,086 subscribers.

While Nemeroff said that the lower original subscription numbers reflected only an internal user reach, the tremendous new growth in interest demonstrates the power of smart innovation to connect people and empower them to take a more active role in government.

The shifting processes within govMeetings has also provided new benefits internally, as well, allowing Nemeroff to adjust deadlines for agenda submissions by two whole business days, something that she said is appreciated by the departments with which she works.

While the QR code program has driven substantial subscriber numbers, the change to digital agenda distribution is greener and has also increased savings on postage and paper costs, Nemeroff added, while making sure that agendas under the umbrella of their office meet California’s open meeting laws.

“We’re providing transparency and greater awareness to the public for a number of bodies that previously weren’t under our control,” she said. “There were occasions where we weren’t sure if agendas were posted in a timely manner, kbut now we can say that with total and complete confidence.”

Not one to rest on laurels, Nemeroff said that her team continues to work with their Granicus representatives to push the capabilities of their tools to meet new needs. A new area that Nemeroff hopes to address in expanding access and transparency is language equity, reducing the effort required to add translated texts to agendas and broadening the number of languages available for service.

Despite those continued efforts, Nemeroff’s current work to achieve a goal of broadened access to underserved communities is already having positive feedback based on the interactions she has with users.

“The good news is we no longer receive requests from the public asking how to sign up for agendas. If someone goes to our public meetings page, the information is right there. It’s at the top. It’s hard to miss. That’s cut down on a lot of traffic that comes through our office for things like that.”

“And I would say that some of the members of the disabled community that approached us initially,” she added, “were very happy with the changes that we made. They were happy that we were so responsive and broadened access for people.”