The Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center (WPRDC) provides a shared technological and legal infrastructure to support research, analysis, decision making, and community engagement. It was created in 2015 and is managed by the University of Pittsburgh Center for Urban and Social Research, in partnership with Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh. WPRDC would not be possible without the trust of our partners and support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, and the University of Pittsburgh.
The University Center has long served as a community information intermediary in Allegheny County. Information intermediaries help people find and use information to improve their communities. WPRDC is one in a long line of initiatives of the University Center in this intermediary role.
Over time, the University Center realized that the broader use of data in the region was inhibited by the lack of a legal infrastructure, technologies that did not support the dissemination of raw data, incomplete data documentation, and a lack of capacity for managing information in a fragmented political environment. WPRDC provides this infrastructure while institutionalizing the role of a data intermediary within a regional open data infrastructure. In 2013 and 2014, we wrote about our early open data experiences in a two part series (part one, part two).
We are often asked by people in other cities to talk more about the WPRDC. We’re happy to do so, and we find that everyone gets the most out of these conversations by first reviewing our document containing lots of background information about the project.