The Pittsburgh Neighborhood and Community Information System (PNCIS) held its fourth annual Users´ Conference on Friday, June 7th at the University Club on the University of Pittsburgh´s campus. Over 130 people attended for an afternoon of strategies and projects aimed at understanding how to better create, share, and use information to foster neighborhood improvement in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. PNCIS is a project in the Urban and Regional Analysis program at UCSUR.
A major theme of the conference centered on “open data.” Open data refers to publicly available information that is freely accessible to all users. Communities where information is released openly often have residents and community partners develop new and innovative applications of information for community revitalization.
Greg Sanders, Information Architect of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the conference´s featured speaker, discussed “Open Data in the Chicago Region: Leaders, geeks and grassroots,” a presentation that provided the audience with broad understanding of government´s role in promoting open data use, from its roots in the founding of the country to what Mr. Sanders´s called the “explosion” of open data in places like Chicago. Benefits of open data are rooted in technological changes and foundation support for civic applications, to what ultimately turned the movement into a revolution — leadership.
A response panel then engaged in a discussion of transparency and open data issues from the Pittsburgh and Allegheny County perspective. The conference benefited from as poster session with participants from the Steel City Codefest, held in February. In the afternoon´s second session, local users presented how they’ve used PNCIS in their communities.
Featured Speaker: Greg Sanders
Greg Sanders – Keynote Speaker
Chris Blackwell – Principal Planner, Municipality of Penn Hills
David Passmore – Webmaster, City of Pittsburgh
Amanda Settelmaier – Executive Director, Turtle Creek Valley Council of Governments
Brady Hunsaker – Software Engineer, Google
“Understanding blight in the Mon Valley”
An Lewis – Executive Director, Steel Valley Council of Governments
Ms. Lewis discussed the importance and role of data in a number of the Steel Valley COG initiatives, including their partnership with the Turtle Creek Valley COG and Twin Rivers COG in “blight busters,” an integrated strategy of to fight blight and reduce property abandonment in the Tri-COG region. Listen to the MP3
“Using Community Engagement to Battle Blight”
Pat Clark – Executive Director, Jackson/Clark Partners
Juan Castellanos – Community Outreach Specialist, Kingsley Association
Evelyn Brooks – Larimer Concensus Group
Mr. Clark, Mr. Castellanos and Ms. Brooks discussed the extensive community involvement process that resulted in planning and revitalization efforts in the Larimer neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Listen to the MP3
UCSUR appreciates the long time partnership with the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development (PPND) in PNCIS and PPND´s continued support for the PNCIS Users Conference. We also would like to thank the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland for their partnership in the 2013 PNCIS Conference.