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Dec. 4: Pittsburgh Orgs Join Forces, Build Communities


Jenni King
Carnegie Mellon University

John Fedele
University of Pittsburgh

Grant Ervin
10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania
412-471-3727, ext. 16

Maureen Hogan
Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development
412-471-3727, ext. 13

University-Community Collaborative Partners With City;
Unveils Web Site To Aid Community-Development Organizations    

PITTSBURGH—Four Pittsburgh organizations are joining forces with the City of Pittsburgh in an effort to apply community information system technology to improve the city and its neighborhoods. The Pittsburgh Neighborhood and Community Information System (PNCIS) includes a mapping tool that provides visual snapshots illustrating demographic, social, property, planning and economic information. PNCIS was developed through a partnership between the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development (PPND), Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania.    

The family of interactive, online mapping tools is customized to help government and community organizations find information about neighborhoods that will enable them to take action to revitalize communities. The city is partnering with the collaborative by providing the necessary data and support to press forward with the information system.    

"Together, we are showing the community that we are more transparent than ever before," said Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. "We will lead the way as we move forward with our investment in cutting-edge technology and management tools to enable our city to run efficiently, giving us and our partners the tools to make smart, prompt decisions based upon solid data."   

Hazelwood Lien MapPNCIS is a property information system that collects integrated information on community conditions and provides it to local stakeholders. It empowers community leaders through the regular, direct use of information on a wide array of topics and issues. The PNCIS integrates more than 50 key indicators from multiple data sources to provide a dynamic view of neighborhood conditions. Consistent data for all neighborhoods is available to every participating organization, and the PNCIS provides one point of contact for users and data providers. By coordinating all data collection and processing, participating organizations can spend their time analyzing and using the information rather than gathering it. To date, the PNCIS has assisted communities on issues such as vacant property, public safety, nuisance bars and foreclosure prevention.

"For community-development corporations to develop strategies and programs that respond to real community needs, we must have access to real-time data about neighborhood conditions," said Kate Trimble, executive director of the Lawrenceville Corporation. "In the past, this type of data was either unavailable or incredibly time-consuming and burdensome to collect on a regular basis. The PNCIS database puts all the information that we need at our fingertips, in a user-friendly, Web-based format."

The partnership between universities and community organizations has resulted in a system that combines the partners' strengths in technology, information and application.

"The successful launching of the PNCIS took the ongoing trust, collaboration and considerable skills and resources of the university community, the public sector and the foundation community," said Maureen Hogan of PPND. "Its successful continuation and growth will rely heavily on this partnership. PPND is proud to be part of a partnership that has provided the means for public access to comprehensive data for community development decision-making."

PNCIS allows residents to improve their understanding of neighborhood activity, offering more opportunities for community improvement. A crucial component of the PNCIS is understanding how to use the system and the data.

"University team members will conduct training sessions for community and city users on how to apply the information and tools contained within the system to the everyday issues that arise in communities," said Sabina Deitrick of the University of Pittsburgh. "The PNCIS is strengthening the universities' connections to their communities. It enhances the education and skills of our students as they work with community partners on neighborhood revitalization."