Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

NSSE Description

On September 24 and 25, 2009, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was host to the G-20 Summit.  President Obama chaired the meeting.  The members of the G-20 are the finance ministers and central bank governors of 19 countries—Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as the European Union, represented by the rotating council presidency and the European Central Bank.  The purpose of the NSSE was to discuss the actions necessary to recover from the global financial and economic crisis.

The David L. Lawrence Convention Center located in downtown Pittsburgh was the venue for the meeting.  Other locations included the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, where a working dinner was held; the Andy Warhol Museum; Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts; and Rosemont Farm, where First Lady Michelle Obama hosted spouses of world leaders for dinner.  Figure 3-1 shows the various locations of the G-20 Summit.  The figure includes the Pittsburgh Airport for reference.  (The figure highlights Fox Chapel to indicate the general location of the Rosemont Farm.) 

Figure 3-1: Regional View of Venue Locations in Pittsburgh

Satellite photo showing regional view of venue locations in Pittsburgh

Figure 3-2 shows the G-20 Summit’s venue locations in the downtown areas.  This view also highlights the bridges, roadways, and parkways (Interstates) that were in and around the venue.  This case study found no other information concerning the specific locations of the road closures or established perimeters.

Figure 3-2: Downtown View of Venue Locations in Pittsburgh

Satellite photo showing downtown venue locations in Pittsburgh

Following the conclusion of the April 2009 G-20 London Summit, leaders called for another meeting before the end of the year.  On May 28, 2009, President Barack Obama announced his offer to host a summit in Pittsburgh in September.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) classified this event as an NSSE. 

The various heads of State and other dignitaries arrived in Pittsburgh on Thursday, September 24, 2009, and traveled to the Phipps Conservatory in Oakland for a reception and dinner.  On Thursday evening, the spouses attended a dinner hosted at Rosemont Farm in Fox Chapel by First Lady Michelle Obama.  The morning of September 25, the heads of State and other dignitaries convened the G-20 Summit at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.  Also on that day, the spouses of world leaders and the First Lady attended events held at the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts and the Andy Warhol Museum on the North Shore. 

Figure 3-3: Timeline of G-20 Summit

Timeline of G-20 Summit


The State of Pennsylvania includes 67 counties, which consist of municipalities such as cities, boroughs, or townships.  There are 56 cities classified by size (first, second, and third class).  Pittsburgh, with its population of 311,647, is a second-class city. 

A “strong mayor” governs the City of Pittsburgh (i.e., a mayor-council form of government).  The City Council is composed of elected officials from nine districts.  A president, elected to the position from among the sitting council members, leads the Council.  The current mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, Luke Ravenstahl, was also the mayor during the G-20 Summit.  Pittsburgh is the second largest city in the state and is the county seat for Allegheny County.  Within the government of the City of Pittsburgh, the Department of Public Works (DPW) consists of four Bureaus—Administration, Street/Parks Operations, Environmental Services, and Transportation and Engineering.  The DPW’s duties and services include permits, forestry, potholes, refuse and recycling, streets/park maintenance, and transportation/engineering. 

The central business district, where the convention center is located, is a triangular area flanked by both the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers and connected by several bridges and primary inter-state arterials.  Downtown Pittsburgh refers to the Interstate highways that run through it as “parkways.” These parkways include I-376 connecting I-76, I-80, and I-79, I-279, and I-579.  The Pittsburgh International Airport, Allegheny County Airport, and several smaller airports for private use serve the city.

The City of Pittsburgh has its own law enforcement and fire services—the Pittsburgh Police Bureau and the Pittsburgh Fire Bureau, which were both active during the planning of the G-20 Summit.

The convention center is in the middle of a downtown area filled with tall office buildings and a complex grid road system to which several bridges and tunnels provide access.  Due to the layout of the downtown area, security was a significant consideration for those involved in planning this NSSE.

The G-20 Summit required the participation of state, county, and city departments and agencies in addition to the support of federal partners such as the DHS, USSS, US Coast Guard (USCG), and the US Army Corps of Engineers.  Based on interviews conducted for this case study, the City of Pittsburgh’s DPW, Department of City Planning, and Bureau of Police collaboratively oversaw planning and implementation of the transportation aspects of the G-20 Summit.  However, the USSS handled the overall coordination for the NSSE. 

May 2011
Publication #FHWA-HOP-11-012