© 2018 Allan Kapoor

Allegheny Green Web: Data-Driven Greenway Corridors for the Pittsburgh Region

Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

TEAM

Project Director, Lead GIS Analyst at Environmental Planning & Design

DURATION

8 months (ongoing)

SKILLS

GIS Analysis and Model Development

Stakeholder-Driven Suitability Analysis

Interactive WebApp Development

Charrette Design and Facilitation

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All maps & graphics by Allan Kapoor

TOOLS

ArcGIS Pro

ESRI Web Apps

Adobe Illustrator

CHALLENGE

Ten years since its adoption, Allegheny County's official greenway plan has failed to inspire action due to infeasible recommendations with a lack of clear prioritization.

The plan focused on ecological connectivity but ignored social inequality in public health outcomes, access to green space, and outdoor recreation opportunities.

Without a unified vision, the county, local municipalities, environmental NGOs, and private land trusts pursued similar goals with little coordination.

CLIENT

The Allegheny County Parks Foundation convened over 20 nonprofit recreation and conservation organizations, county departments, and municipal COGs to develop an updated greenways plan.

OBJECTIVE

Environmental Planning & Design was hired to was to develop a stakeholder and data-driven process for selecting and prioritizing greenway corridors that took into account the wide variety of benefits that greenways can provide, from recreation to habitat to green infrastructure.

PROCESS & RESULTS

EPD introduced a network concept model of  “Oases” - nodes of pristine green spaces, “Deserts” - nodes of populations lacking green space access, and “Connections” - greenway corridors between the nodes.

Wellness deserts consist of census tracts determined by the Allegheny Public Health Department to be environmental justice communities of concern.

Mobility deserts consist of census tracts physically separated from green spaces by major highways or industrial areas.

I developed a weighted GIS suitability analysis model that generated a heat map indicating areas where a greenway corridor would capture the most co-benefits.

Weights were decided by stakeholders through an online voting process:

Each dataset was converted to a raster for inclusion in the model. The model weighted each dataset and added the values of overlaid pixels together (concept graphic is simplified).

Suitability maps for each type of connection were combined into a composite Connection Potential Score map.

In a later stage of the project, the chosen corridors will be scored by connection type, allowing for the streamlined pursuit of relevant funding opportunities.

I designed an interactive ESRI WebApp that synthesizes the inputs and results of the analysis for project stakeholders. Non-GIS users were able to interact with the data to provide detailed input and ground truthing.

I worked with the client to develop a charrette exercise protocol in which project stakeholders use the connection potential map as a guide to delineate greenway corridors, ensuring that they take ownership of the resulting plan.

Project stakeholder Roy Kraynyk of the Allegheny Land Trust presents his table group's corridor routing decisions for a subsection of the county during the first Corridor Delineation Charrette.

Charrette participants delineate corridors on laminated maps displaying connection potential scores and refer to individual datasets using the project's WebApp.

NEXT STEPS

The project's stakeholder committee will meet several times over the summer of 2018 to delineate macro corridors for each subsection of the County.

Next, the project team will meet with local municipalities and harness local knowledge and input to decide on feasible routes within the macro corridors.

The final corridors will be compiled into a county-wide greenways plan and scored based on each connection benefit category. During implementation, this will enable the targeted pursuit of relevant funding opportunities for individual trail projects.