Civic News
Communities / Data / Economics

Can a sparsely populated data tool help leaders tell better stories about Downtown Pittsburgh?

Take a look: Allegheny Conference on Community Development's IndexPGH was made to be a "one-stop shop" for data on the state of Downtown.

A view of the IndexPGH homepage. (Screenshot)

Tourism has bounced back from the pandemic, according to the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. Still, not every resident sees Downtown as a place to visit: Look to a recent series of unflattering takes on the city center, and the trend of worsening office vacancy rates.

To counter that narrative, economic development group Allegheny Conference on Community Development wants to highlight the good happening in the area. Introducing: IndexPGH, a dashboard containing data on Downtown Pittsburgh’s economy, vibrancy, cleanliness, and safety and public health.

Allegheny Conference VP of Local Government Affairs and Advocacy Lauren Connelly told the tool was made to be a “one-stop shop” for data on the state of Downtown.

“The dashboard was made to give an accurate and timely snapshot of what is happening in Downtown Pittsburgh,” Connelly said. “There’s been a lot of coverage and noise and some of the data and the specific information has been somewhat fragmented.”

Check it out

Right now, the platform looks sparse, with only a handful of stats and a brief, press release-like news story shared for each of the four categories. More data is coming, per Connelly, who called it “a living thing that will evolve.”

Potential users include Downtown Pittsburgh employers, employees, visitors, and anyone who visits or lives in the area. Since the Allegheny Conference acts as a convener in the region, the organization’s leaders felt it was important to help recognize how much work is being done downtown by so many different organizations and agencies, including the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Connelly said.

Allegheny Conference VP Lauren Connelly. (Courtesy photo)

The website’s frontend was built on Next.js and styled using twin.macro, while its data is managed with Prisma ORM, according to Allegheny Conference spokesperson Phil Cynar. The data itself comes from the likes of the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Pittsburgh Regional Transit, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the Urban Redevelopment Authority. Because the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership operates the business improvement district in Downtown Pittsburgh, Connelly said, it provided a lot of data that the Allegheny Conference has found useful. For other civic agencies involved, the data comes directly from the services provided.

“Our goal is to provide an accurate snapshot of what’s happening in Downtown Pittsburgh, in a timely manner,” Connelly said. “In no way is this to misrepresent the reality, the challenges, that we know we face downtown, it’s to give that accurate snapshot.”

The announcement of IndexPGH came alongside a $2 million commitment from corporate and philanthropic partners to support Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership initiatives, including new programming and temporary public bathrooms.

Let us know what you think of the new platform:

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
Companies: Allegheny Conference on Community Development

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