Pittsburgh and Allegheny County leaders on Thursday touted a new online data resource they say will help drive decision-making on everything from road paving to sending extra police to violent areas.
“We start today one of the greatest historic days of city-county consolidation: an understanding of an open-data platform to be able to do great things,” Mayor Bill Peduto said at a news conference in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
Peduto joined County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and University of Pittsburgh officials in announcing the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center, a website that contains a wealth of public information previously stored across cumbersome bureaucratic silos or accessible only through time-consuming Right to Know requests.
The data center, which can be found at www.wprdc.org, includes more than 50 downloadable data sets spanning a range of public records, such as property sales, crime blotters, housing inspections, building permits, sheriff’s sales and more.
In addition to city and county records, the center hosts data sets provided by other public agencies, academic institutions and nonprofit organizations.
“It may seem like, ‘Well, it’s just putting information out there,’ ” Peduto said. “But right now, that information is not made available to anyone, except those that work in City Hall or work in the county. Now it’s going to be made available to all.”
Pitt’s University Center for Social and Urban Research is managing the project. The Richard King Mellon Foundation gave $1.8 million to support the effort’s first 18 months.
Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, who sponsored 2014 legislation that led to the data center, said the increase in transparency shows the Peduto administration “is committed to opening up this data not only for council staffers and city employees, but for people themselves so we can actually empower ourselves to solve some of our own problems and track what’s going on.”