Project Background

Project Overview | Scope Setting

Project Overview

Joanne Foerster – CitiStat Project Manager, City of Pittsburgh

GIS map of pothole complaintsCitiStat is a an internal management process, pioneered in Baltimore but now being applied in Pittsburgh, which seeks to improve a city government's efficiency by continuously evaluating performance. CitiStat helps Pittsburgh collect information on and evaluate the performance of a wide variety of city functions and concerns, from lead paint violations to potholes to crime patterns. Most city agencies such as the departments of Public Works, Police, Fire, Recreation and Parks, the Office of Contracts Administration, and the Housing Authority, and others, regularly measure and report on how well they serve the public. CitiStat has improved efficiency in cities, by centralizing complaints and tracking service calls about everything from garbage collection to emergency response. Baltimore claims that CitiStat saved them over $10 million in the first year alone.

In Pittsburgh, city departments keep track of specific performance data such as service requests, labor hours and material costs. Budget data is submitted every two weeks and analyzed along with payroll and resource allocations. This data is used operationally, on a day-to-day basis. For example, the Police Department assigns patrols in part based on up-to-date geographic information about where crimes have been committed. The information is also reviewed periodically in meetings between department heads and the mayor. The results of CitiStat has been to improve response times and savings for city programs, as well as giving departments the resources they need for operating efficiency.

CitiStat Goals:

  • Ensure that city departments have the resources and infrastructure to deliver services
  • Provide operating savings
  • Set benchmarks for comparison to industry standards
  • Focus resources on priority initiatives, such as Pittsburgh Clean Neighborhoods

Process & Project Goals:

  • Determine current work flow for CitiStat and specifically the Department of Public Works
  • Design a more effective work flow to help DPW and CIS be more efficient
  • Produce a prototype system to support the new flow, simplifying and automating where possible
  • Ensure necessary data for presentation and review is easily accessible
  • Assist DPW by allowing them to explore and analyze internal data prior to analysis by OMB staff
  • Allow DPW flexibility to generate customized reports to meet the public's needs, if necessary


  • Research (CitiStat, data visualization, etc)
  • Observe processes and systems in DPW, CIS, and OMB
  • Conduct interviews with staff of above departments
  • Conduct interviews with the public
  • Create low-fidelity prototypes
  • Test and improve the prototypes using HCI methods
  • Implement a working prototype
  • Transition final prototype to CIS for review, adaptation, and support


  • Process documentation including information on design process and idea generation
  • Raw data collected from research
  • Prototype designs (low-fidelity)
  • Final prototype system (beta-quality functional software)
  • Basic user-level documentation for prototype system
  • Complete source materials for prototype (source code and documentation)


Scope Setting

Scope Setting Challenges

We faced a set of questions that we needed to address in order to set the scope of our project. Should we have a public-facing or internal focus? A general tool or a more focused solution? We created the diagram below to illustrate the components of the project we needed to consider, as well as the stakeholders involved in each section.


In order to make dynamic reporting more useful, the city needs quality data to support it. We decided to focus on data entry and analysis (A & B) because we felt it would produce the highest impact for Pittsburgh in the near term and was most feasible for delivery of a functional system. We limited the scope of the project to focus on the Department of Public Works (DPW). This would be a more manageable scale for the time frame we were allotted. Seeing that the DPW handles services and work that is very public facing, such as snow and ice removal we felt it was an ideal department to focus on.

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© Carnegie Mellon University, Masters of Human-Computer Interaction, CitiStat project: Peter Centraf, Lisa Edelman, Lorrianne Nault, Matt Sharpe, Adrian Tang