OnePGH: Supporting Development of Pittsburgh's Resilience Strategy

Helping Pittsburgh respond, adapt, and grow in the face of chronic stresses and acute shocks

Pedestrians walk across the Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh

Pedestrians walk across the Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh.

Photo by Andy Boenau / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Over the past three decades, Pittsburgh experienced economic hardship and population loss, losing 40 percent of its population between 1970 and 2006, following the collapse of the region's steel industry. Pittsburgh has rebounded from this economic and population shock in the past 10 years, building on its strengths as a hub of education, technology, and medicine.

However, the city still faces stresses associated with its industrial legacy, and must respond to 21st century forces of urbanization, globalization, and climate change. Persistent racial and socioeconomic inequities indicate that new opportunities are not equally shared, and fragmented governance and planning in the region constrain resources and inhibit efforts to try to address the city’s challenges.

As part of its work as a strategy partner for 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), RAND has been working with the city of Pittsburgh since 2015 to develop Pittsburgh’s first city-wide Resilience Strategy.

Pittsburgh’s Resilience Strategy, known as OnePGH, is a comprehensive strategy to address the current and future challenges that confront the city and its residents.

OnePGH builds on the city’s existing “p4” framework and a wealth of community assets to create a holistic, community-centered approach. It describes the specific ways in which different sectors will work collectively to make Pittsburgh a resilient city in terms of four key values: People, Place, Planet, and Performance.

Resilience Strategy

Roughly two years of effort has culminated in OnePGH, the city’s Resilience Strategy, officially launched March 8, 2017. The strategy is based around the four values of People, Place, Planet and Performance. Each value has associated objectives and actions that address the city's many shocks and stresses, and strengthen the urban ecosystem.

  • OnePGH: Resilient Pittsburgh

    Mar 8, 2017

    OnePGH is the strategy for Pittsburgh to thrive in the 21st century as a city of engaged, empowered and coordinated neighbors. Pittsburgh will be resilient when our city is livable for all residents.

Development Process

Attendees at a community meeting in East Liberty, Pittsburgh, in 2015

Attendees at a deliberative forum in East Liberty, Pittsburgh, in 2015

Photo by Michael Mages

RAND worked in partnership with the Resilient Pittsburgh team: the city’s Chief Resilience Officer Grant Ervin, the City Resilience team, and 100RC representatives. The process included three phases.

  1. Capturing the current state of the city’s resilience based on existing research and community and stakeholder perceptions. This phase included a large day-long kickoff stakeholder event, interviews, focus groups, workshops, deliberative community forums, and a survey. RAND researchers also consulted secondary data to help compile a Preliminary Resilience Assessment [PDF].
  2. Conducting in-depth research on themes identified in Phase 1. This phase included additional stakeholder workshops on the goals, objectives, and actions that comprise the resilience framework. RAND also helped develop a new database of resilience-related actions city- and region-wide, and conducted a series of diagnostic tasks intended to inform strategy priorities and implementation steps.
  3. The implementation phase follows the release of the strategy.

Next Steps: Pittsburgh Survey, 2.0

RAND plans to continue to support the city during OnePGH implementation through a key next step identified in the strategy: Pittsburgh Survey, 2.0. The survey, inspired by a ground-breaking survey of city residents administered over a century ago, will become the central monitoring and evaluation mechanism for the implementation of the resilience strategy. It will help measure progress towards core resilience and related wellbeing objectives, organize and track relevant actions like those in the strategy, and offer a foundation of data to better understand and communicate the effectiveness of investments, initiatives, policies, and programs to support resilience and wellbeing in Pittsburgh.

The survey will also help share the story of resilience and wellbeing in the city via a publicly accessible dashboard, interactive visualizations, and digital storytelling methods. RAND is currently working on initial steps for the survey, including convening a multi-institution research team and developing an initial measurement system for resilience and wellbeing.