SNAP: The city at your fingertips

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

In the process of building the city’s first 20-year masterplan, the city planning department is using a research tool it developed called PGHSNAP.

SNAP stands for  Sector/Neighborhood Asset Profiles and Sector/Neighborhood Action Planning.

City planners took information from a broad spectrum of sources to create this data bank, which has interactive components. The sources are available to the public but if you wanted to find out all the info PGHSNAP presents it would take you months to collect from many locations, some less accessible than others.

Furthermore, our planners organized all the data sets by neighborhood, making it particularly valuable to anyone who works in neighborhood development or advocacy, anyone who reports on it and all  the map and data geeks.

You can do what I’ve done — bookmark it for easy access.

It is tied into the city’s online interactive mapping application, PGHGIS. The GIS stands for geographic information system.

The sectors referred to are 16 clusters of neighborhoods that, if they were really really forced to, could agree to share an umbrella.

Planners considered lots of criteria in grouping these neighborhoods — and it’s just for planning purposes, so don’t get excited from a fear of annexation: geography, council districts, community resources and assets, transportation links, school feeder patterns, current collaborations among neighborhoods and the thing we all love most of all, neighborhood character. (My neighborhood is a character.)

Because they are professional planners, their groupings are astute. If they say Fineview belongs with the Lower Northside, I defer to their expertise. But I'd have thrown Fineview in with the Allegheny Hills sector or the Upper Northside sector, 1. because it's up on a hill and all the other neighborhoods in its sector are down on the flats and 2. because I'd love for our sector to be called the Northside Flats because I love the word "flats" in neighborhood jargon.

The Upper East End has eight neighborhoods, too. Some sectors have just three.

SNAP also gives us surprising lists, such as the “Oldest Homes” list. It ranks neighborhoods by percentage of their homes built before 1939. I was sure mine, the Central Northside, would be in the top 10 but a lot of new building lately knocks us down into the next 10.

Hays gets the honor, with 88.5% of its housing 73 years old and older. Windgap has the most owner-occupied homes at 91.1%.

Oh, I could go on and on, but I’ll let you go (if you've made it this far) so you can investigate PGHSNAP for yourself.

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