Pittsburgh, PA

United States


William Peduto


301,048 (2018)

Lead Innovation Officer

Santiago Garces

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve internal government operations

  • Simplify administrative procedures for firms and residents

  • Improve service delivery

Critical success factors:
  • Dedicated funding

  • Focus on measurement

  • Human resource support

  • Dedicated innovation team

  • Culture of innovation in city

  • Engagement with partners

  • Support from outside city administration

  • Leadership from Mayor

Spotlight on innovation in Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh adopted its first innovation strategy in 2015, and has since updated it annually. While innovation was initially heavily funded by local philanthropies, the city is continuously trying to move toward sustainable funding by building innovation costs into the city operating budget. Much of the innovation strategy overhaul is based on “customer feedback”, with the goal of making data-driven decisions and ensuring that technology creates value for residents.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

Along with 50% of cities surveyed, Pittsburgh, PA has an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to more than half of cities surveyed, Pittsburgh, PA approaches innovation capacity both from a holistic/macro level, as well as in specific policy areas.

Policy areas that Pittsburgh, PA is focused on


Transport/Mobility: Pittsburgh is developing a novel model by requiring providers of new mobility solutions such as e-scooters to develop neighborhood-level transportation plans in a way that relates to the current assets and needs. The city has also deployed a network of over 50 smart traffic lights that coordinate traffic to reduce congestion and improve environmental benefits.

Policy areas by number of cities

Pittsburgh, PA utilizes 6 different innovation skills or roles

Project manager
Data scientist
Community engagement staff
Communication officer
Innovation roles by number of cities

As an independent department, Pittsburgh’s dedicated innovation team consists of 8 staff.

Terms Pittsburgh, PA most associates with innovation

Big picture re-thinking
Data analytics

Pittsburgh, PA's most common innovation activities

Taking risks and testing new ideas
e.g. prototyping new programs or models to address a persistent city challenge
Promoting data-driven analytics / public data management
e.g. data storage/analytics; open data; big data
Engaging residents in new ways
Developing new solutions based on digital technologies
e.g. use of drones or smart sensors
Facilitating organizational change within the municipality
e.g. silo-busting; new internal performance management; staff training and capacity building on innovation tools or techniques; reforms to contracting or procurement
Rethinking approaches to financing and partnerships
e.g. new public-private-partnerships; collaboration with neighboring jurisdictions
  1. 1

    Taking risks or testing new ideas

  2. 2

    Data-driven analytics/public data management

  3. 3

    Engaging residents in new ways

  4. 4

    Developing new solutions based on digital technologies

  5. 5

    Organizational change within the municipality

  6. 6

    Human-centered design

  7. 7

    Rethinking your city’s approach to financing partnerships

How is innovation funded here?

Like 81% of cities surveyed, Pittsburgh, PA has dedicated funding to support innovation capacity.

Top sources of funding

Central/federal/national government budget
Central/federal/national government budget
This refers to funding in the form of budget support to city authorities. Example: Stockholm (Sweden) launched the Hub for Innovation, a three-year long project funded by Sweden's National Innovation Authority, Vinnova in 2017. The hub supports a more innovative working culture within the city hall.
Regional/State/Province/Territorial budget
Municipal budget
Municipal budget
This could include, for instance, City Council approved funds; operating budget; a special funding process (bond, Mayoral special initiative funding, etc.); and participatory budgeting / citizen-selected budgeting.
External funding
External funding
This could include private, philanthropic/non-profit and/or academic/think tank resources.
Non-financial resources
Non-financial resources
This could include staff on loan and/or other in-kind contributions (e.g. materials, infrastructure…)

Activities being funded

Idea generation & brainstorming
Investing in digital systems
Investing in physical infrastructure
47 cities
Launching or sustaining a project
79 cities
Idea generation & brainstorming
51 cities
Investing in digital systems
36 cities
Investing in physical infrastructure
30 cities
Paying for services

Similar to 61% of participating cities in the 2020 survey, Pittsburgh's funding for innovation capacity is also directed towards training staff and building capacity*.

*"Training staff and building capacity" is not an option in the 2018 survey, while "Launching or sustaining a project" is not an option in the 2020 survey.

How is innovation measured?

Pittsburgh has developed partnerships to promote innovation capacity with other public agencies, private firms, not-for-profit organizations, and city residents/resident associations.

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with the private sector, private philanthropy, academia and think tanks, to collect and analyze data, as well as with other cities.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data

Government finance


Land use

Insufficient data

Built environment



Environment and climate change


Labour market and skills

Waste and sewage

Social inclusion and equity

Public works

Policing and law enforcement



Digital governance

Economic Development

No Response


Social welfare/social services