The concept of a community information system in Pittsburgh goes back to the late 1980´s. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh´s University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR) began experimenting with various sets of government and social data to assist decision making in the areas of crime prevention and neighborhood improvement. Beginning in 2000, the University of Pittsburgh´s Community Outreach Partnership Center (COPC) became a key information resource for community organizations in the City of Pittsburgh. COPC´s role in expanding the use of data by neighborhood organizations expanded early this decade by partnering with Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group´s (PCRG) Vacant Property Working Group on several data collection efforts related to vacant and abandoned property reclamation.
In June of 2003, a host of local institutions hosted the first-ever Pittsburgh Symposium on Vacant Land and Abandoned Buildings. At the Symposium, a session sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania´s Cartographic Modeling Lab raised the attention of conference-goers interested in developing a similar system in Pittsburgh. Following the Symposium, a core project team was formed and charged with building on the concept plan to bring the community information system to fruition. This early team was composed of a number of organizations, including UCSUR, the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development, 10thousand Friends of Pennsylvania, and Carnegie Mellon´s Center for Economic Development.
In the summer of 2006, the beta version of Pittsburgh Neighborhood Information System was launched. The following year, data sharing agreements with the City of Pittsburgh were finalized, and the initial strategic plan for the PNCIS was developed. In 2008, the PNCIS became a partner in the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, and launched the latest version of the interactive map in the summer of 2009.