Annia Alan

(seen here: Yosemite, August, 2016)

Annia Aleman
Civic Innovation Specialist
City of Pittsburgh, PA

Favorite Music

Salsa, eg, Willie Colon’s “Che Che Cole.”


Pittsburgh wanted to try out new technology useful for city government. It also wanted to help local startups.


It realized it could accomplish both objectives at the same time, creating for a win-win for the city and its homegrown entrepreneurs. The city could try out new products, and the entrepreneurs would be able to test them.

Last year, Pittsburgh launched a pilot program called PGH Lab through which local tech startups can get real world feedback.

How it works: A committee reviews applications and selects startups it can match with city staff. The city picked three tech firms to work with, and has expanded the program to five this summer in partnership with the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, Water & Sewer Authority, and Housing Authority. “Together, they work as testing organizations,” Annia says.

Examples of current projects include a company called Clean Robotics that’s testing a robot trashcan to intelligently sort recyclable materials from waste in the first floor of the Pittsburgh City-County Building. Another company, KAARTA, is working with the Department of Public Works to test a device producing 3D digital maps of the real world in real time. MellonHead Labs is testing a water sensor to assess water quality with the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority. Cognowear is testing intelligent clothing that optimizes the user’s temperature comfort. FlyWheel is testing performance improvement and best practices in the HR department at the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Annia’s Background

Born in Nicaragua, where she grew up playing soccer and helping her mother with community organizing. At 16, Annia and her family moved to Pittsburgh. Got bachelors in global policy studies & economics (Chatham University, ’13) and master’s in public policy & management (Carnegie Mellon ’14). Worked in small non-profits and joined City of Pittsburgh in 2016.

Startling Fact

Avid salsa dancer and accomplished acrylic painter.

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