If you keep tabs on Pittsburgh tech talk, you’ve probably heard a lot of buzz around open data and civic tech recently. Last month, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh had its third annual Data Day, which brought together organizations and individuals who deal in data in creative and challenging ways. In October, Technical.ly and PublicSource wrapped up Open Data PGH, a six-month long series of articles examining civic tech in the region.

Mapping projects exist at the intersection of open data and civic engagement, and they’re a unique way for individuals to contribute to the conversation. Maps are a powerful medium because of their ability to give us a focused view of our city. Here are 12 projects that map our city in awesome new ways:

  1. Burgh’s Eye View isn’t just a “nebby neighbor’s dream.” This map gives you an overview of your neighborhood, through the lens of public data. Which sidewalks are in disrepair? What 311 calls have been made recently? What’s been happening on the police blotter? These are the questions Burgh’s Eye View—with the help of folks like you and your nebby neighbors—can answer.
    MappingProjects_BurghsEye_Burgh's Eye View
    Image via Burgh’s Eye View
  2. Our city’s public stairs are pretty well-known. So much so, in fact, they were featured in a recent issue of an in-flight magazine! Pittsburgh Stairs, created by Doug Beyerlein, is a map of any public staircase with 100 or more steps.
    MappingProjects_Stairs_www.communitywalk.compittsburghpapittsburgh_stairs
    Image via www.communitywalk.com
  3. Pittsburghers love a fish fry, and the Pittsburgh Fish Fry Map is a perfect way to make sure you’re hitting up the best of the best. The project was started by Hollen Barmer, but has evolved into an annual city-wide mapathon. (You can help!)
    MappingProjects_FishFry2_fishfry.codeforpgh.com
    Image via fishfry.codeforpgh.com
  4. The CMU group Students Using Data for Social-good (SUDS) has partnered with New Sun Rising to create a crowd-sourced Community Assets Map. When community members have the chance to physically represent landmarks on a map, it provides an incredibly intimate look at a neighborhood.
    MappingProjects_CommunityAssets_Tess Wilson
  5. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has created a map tracking homicides throughout the city. Users can filter searches by race, cause, age, gender, age, neighborhood, and year all the way back to 2005 and easily find information and articles about individual victims.
    MappingProjects_PPGHomicide_Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Image via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  6. Another project out of CMU looks at one of the most famous parts of the city in a new way. Bridges of Pittsburgh is an attempt to create a route that crosses each of Pittsburgh’s 446 bridges only once.
    MappingProjects_Bridges_bridgesofpittsburgh.net
    Image via bridgesofpittsburgh.net
  7. You might be familiar with Smell PGH because of their handy app, where you can easily and quickly report those pollution odors that pop up in your neighborhood. Crowd-sourced data is compiled into a map that lets you compare previous smell reports, find out how many other reports have been submitted, and locate local air quality monitoring stations. Use this map to make informed decisions about your (or your family’s) time spent outdoors on those bad air days. Breathe smarter.
    MappingProjects_SmellPGHMap_smellpgh.org
    Image via smellpgh.org
  8. With winter approaching, you might find Who Owns My Infrastructure? an especially useful map. Created by Allegheny County, this map uses data from a variety of places to let you know which office maintains your park, fixes your sidewalk, and plows your road.
    MappingProjects_WhoOwnsMyInfrastructure2_Who Owns My Infrastructure_
    Image via Who Owns My Infrastructure
  9. The minds behind the pathVu app understand how vital accessibility is to the livability of our city. This map uses data to label sidewalks and crosswalks according to their accessibility. It even includes tripping hazards reported by users!
    MappingProjects_pathVu_www.pathvu.compathvu-app
    Image via www.pathvu.compathvu-app
  10. You’ve probably noticed new bike lanes popping up on some of Pittsburgh’s main drags. Well, BikePGH has a map to help bikers navigate routes throughout the city. The map is available on paper as well as online, and users can always send in edits.
    MappingProjects_BikePGH_www.bikepgh.org
    Image via www.bikepgh.org
  11. A partnership between the Allegheny Land Trust and the Western Pennsylvania Regional Database Center (WPRDC) has resulted in the Urban Greenprint Tool. This resource is being used to inform policy related to land use in our region.
    MappingProjects_UrbanGreenprint_tools.wprdc.orgurban-greenprint
    Image via UrbanGreenprint
  12. Using Forestry Division data, the Trees N’at map was developed by the City of Pittsburgh. Zoom in and click on individual icons to see stats and facts about each tree, and find out just how beneficial it is to have these trees around.
    MappingProjects_TreesNat_pittsburghpa.shinyapps.ioTreesNAt
    Image via TreesNat

Can’t get enough of this civic data stuff? Be sure to check out what else the WPRDC is up to. They’re always adding more datasets and maps to their site, and there are tons of great ones up already.

Did this list just turn you into a total map nerd? Now you can carry around a map of Pittsburgh neighborhoods everywhere you go with this maptastic tote from CommonWealth Press!

Tess Wilson

Tess Wilson is a public librarian who loves talking loudly about data literacy and online privacy. Beyond her library work, she is an arts educator and an advocate for mentorship. She's a collector of many things, from small rocks to big books.

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