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Reception to celebrate Pitt urban center's research

| Saturday, April 27, 2013, 12:21 a.m.

The University of Pittsburgh's University Center for Social and Urban Research first began collecting survey data quietly four decades ago.

The center has completed hundreds of studies, published a dozen books and documented the region's strengths and weaknesses, ranging from the collapse of heavy industry 30 years ago to slowly blossoming population growth today.

“The city, the county, the state rely a great deal on the data we generate,” said center Director Richard Schulz.

Pitt will mark the center's work with a private reception on Saturday night featuring remarks by former Alcoa CEO and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill.

The center's surveys have yielded data for researchers across every discipline at Pitt, Schulz said. But its special focus on social and regional problems has made it a critical resource for local planners.

Developers and planners tapped the center for economic impact studies for projects including the city's two North Shore stadiums. Its Pittsburgh neighborhood database allows users to drill down to data that help put neighborhood resources into perspective. Users can look at crime data as well as block-level data on vacant homes and tax delinquencies.

“There are a couple of cities that have similar resources, but they're relatively rare in the U.S., and they're a really valuable planning tool,” Schulz said.

Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com.

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