City of Cambridge Prepares for 2020 US Census


2020 Census - Local Update of Census Addresses Operation

The next US Census will take place on April 1, 2020. Those who are asked to fill out the census – all of us! – need only do our part on that day. Until then, the Census Bureau has 18 months left to prepare for the biggest peacetime mobilization in the United States. Fortunately, planning for the next census began early in the decade and work is already well underway.

A key building block for a successful census is an accurate and complete address list covering the entire country. About two years before Census Day, the Bureau begins to work with state and municipal governments all over the United States to collect address information. The Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program engages every interested local government. .

This past summer, the Community Development Department (CDD) and the City’s Geographic Information System (GIS) program worked together to complete Cambridge’s LUCA program. In March 2018, staff received a list of 52,694 Cambridge addresses and spent the next 120 days working intensively to verify the data, correct mistakes, and identify missing addresses. By the time the process was completed in July 2018, the list had grown to 58,471.

The LUCA program provides an accurate and comprehensive list of addresses to the Census Bureau, ensuring that every household’s data is represented in the Census. Even basic statistics, like Cambridge’s population (estimated at 113,630 as of July 2017) impact housing stock, business plans, and policy decisions. Census data also plays a crucial role in funding distribution for a wide array of federal and state government programs. Therefore, each person missed by the census results in a significant loss of financial funding to state and local governments over the course of a decade.

What’s next? Much work remains to prepare for April 2020. The Census Bureau has begun to staff offices to support local Census operations and recruit local partners to help get the word out across every community. The City will have another opportunity to inform the Bureau of new construction projects in 2019 and to fine-tune Cambridge’s final address count. To learn more about the 2020 US Census, visit