Ep. 16 Tara Matthews on Open Data & Western PA Regional Data Center

If you’ve ever had potholes or snow removal on your mind, then Tara’s chat on ‘making data digestible’ is for you. Listen to her walkthrough ‘Burgh’s Eye View’ and how Pittsburgh is getting folks comfortable with using data.

by Lindsay Patross
February 20, 2020

This story is part of our Back to School series. To see more stories like this, check out our Science & Technology curriculum. Follow Very Local on Facebook & Instagram for updates.

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Tara Matthews walks us through how to use open data from the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County to research your neighborhood. New to open data? Tara explains what it is and how to use the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center to find what you are looking for. Tara also shares some of her favorite spots in Bloomfield. For this week’s collaboration, we take a look at the weekly Thunderbird Bluegrass Sessions. And for our event pick of the week, join us at the Hitchhiker Winter Popup in Allentown for our monthly Sunny Side-Up Brunch.

Meet Tara Matthews

Tara Matthews is an Application Specialist at the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. Prior to this role, she worked for the City of Pittsburgh as a Digital Services Analyst. During her time at the City of Pittsburgh, Tara worked on the city’s open data initiative.

Tara was named one of Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 Under 40 in 2019.

Tara’s favorite bridges:

  • Liberty Bridge
  • Smithfield Street Bridge
  • Homestead Grays Bridge

What is open data?

Definition of open data from the Open Data Handbook:

Open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone – subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike.

Interested in learning more about open data and local government? Check out some of the Code for Pittsburgh meetups.

Burgh’s Eye View – an easy way to look at Pittsburgh’s open data

Burgh’s Eye View is a website where you can see several different data sets on a map of Pittsburgh.


Burgh’s Eye View allows you to see the following data on a map of Pittsburgh:

  • 311 Requests
  • Police Blotter
  • Arrests
  • Non-traffic Citations
  • Fire Incidents
  • Code Violations
  • Capital Projects
  • Right of Way Permits
  • Traffic Collisions

The Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center (WPRDC)

The Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center is a partnership between the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the University of Pittsburgh. The WPRDC website has over 100 open data sets from the city and county.

You can follow the WPRDC on Twitter @WPRDC.

Using open data to research your neighborhood

In this episode, Aadam and Tara discuss how to use open data in the homebuying process.

  1. Start with the Property Dashboard on the WPRDC website. The Property Dashboard will tell you about…
    1. The past owners of the property
    2. If there are any tax liens
    3. If there are blighted properties in the neighborhood
  2. Then go to Burgh’s Eye View
    1. Recent accidents
    2. Recent crime
    3. History of the police blotter

Pittsburgh Data Fun Fact

There are over 450 different breeds of trees in the City of Pittsburgh. Check out the Pittsburgh tree data here.

The Best of Bloomfield

Some of Tara’s favorite places in Bloomfield include:

A very Pittsburgh COLLABORATION: Thunderbird Bluegrass Sessions

Thunderbird Bluegrass Sessions

  • Every Tuesday night, free to attend
  • 8 pm – 11 pm
  • Thunderbird Cafe & Music Hall, Lawrenceville
  • Beer specials (at the time of recording): $4 pounders of Founders All Day IPA or Founders Gold Lager

It’s a rotating cast of some of the most talented bluegrass musicians in Pittsburgh area, who come together to jam including

  • Sweaty Already String Band
  • Shelf Life String Band
  • Danny Rectenwald from the Bastard Bearded Irishmen
  • Steve Ludwig from The Casual Hobos


EVENT: Sunny Side Up Brunch on Saturday, February 22

Very Local Pittsburgh hosts a monthly brunch with Pittsburgh Sandwich Society.

For our February Brunch, we’ll be at the Hitchhiker Brewing Pop-up in the Allentown neighborhood.

Subscribe to The Slaw: Staying on Top of Pittsburgh podcast

The Slaw Podcast is available on:

Pittsburgh born and raised, Lindsay has been writing about the people who love Pittsburgh since 2008.

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