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Washington State’s virtual Data Visualization Internship launches

Washington state government agencies and local software companies have joined together in a public-private partnership to create an innovative virtual Data Visualization Internship program for seven college and grad students and recent grads from across the state. To the organizers’ knowledge, this is the first internship to ever take place virtually. Bringing together industry, government, and education is what we do at WTIA and we got to organize the kickoff event for this summer internship program on June 23 at Tableau Software. After the kickoff, the interns toured Microsoft and Socrata, which are two of the software partners in this internship. Check out the photos from the event here.

Each student team will be matched with a mentor from a government agency and a data visualization software company. Will Saunders, senior program manager for Washington State’s Chief Information Officer, said the program is “using student time and cool software to produce a better visualization of what’s going on.”

Participating government agencies include the state departments of Employment Security, Labor and Industries, Early Learning, Ecology and Financial Management. Private companies were mainly chosen based on suggestions from agencies, and companies that either have prior contact with the state or interesting tools. Software companies participating include Live Stories, Tableau, Socrata, and Microsoft. Students at Washington schools were introduced to this program and encouraged to apply. Interns come from all over the state, including University of Washington, Gonzaga University, and Washington State University.

Joneil Sampana, Community Technology Advisory Board member for the City of Seattle and Public Sector Program Manager at Microsoft, described this program as a collective effort made possible by government, non-profit, university and corporate leaders. “I’m amazed at how quickly we were able to come together and mobilize our resources to provide this meaningful work-based learning project. Students and Agency leaders will work to develop compelling data-rich stories on important legislative issues. We are using 21st century technologies in our government to engage our next generation of leaders! We are creating a space for our government leaders, eager students, and data analytics mentors to collaborate and learn from each other.”

Two-thirds of the students come from Eastern Washington and only two are from the University of Washington.  Based on a new model, this virtual internship is designed to have everything done remotely from wherever the hired interns and involved companies are located. The virtual nature makes it easier for students who have other work and family obligations to participate. Washington companies saw the need for a low impact way to get student interacting with government differently.

One of the interns, Alexandra Tester, a recent Gonzaga University graduate, said, “I applied to this program because it offers an amazing learning opportunity in an area that I do not have much experience or knowledge in. I feel as though it will teach me skills that will be applicable and useful in my future work experiences. I currently work for Gonzaga University, so being able to intern from Spokane would not have been possible without the virtual aspect of the program and willingness of the mentors to remain involved through technology. I hope to gain a knowledge in an area that I have not been involved with previously and explore new opportunities.”

The interns will meet again on September 15 at an exhibition at WTIA’s Full ConTech.

City issues Municipal Broadband Feasibility Report

Last month the Department of Information Technology released the City of Seattle Fiber-to-the-Premises Feasibility Study, a feasibility study originally commissioned in December 2014, as part of Mayor Ed Murray’s three-part broadband internet strategy.

In the study, the consultant examined the feasibility of a municipal broadband delivery model, focusing on:

  • Reviewing the financial feasibility of constructing and operating a municipal broadband network in Seattle;
  • Evaluating the services and applications that are most likely to be utilized over a high-capacity data network; and
  • Analyzing current market conditions to gauge consumer interest in a broadband service and the current offerings in the market place.

For more information and to read the report, visit http://www.seattle.gov/broadband.


Community centers add public Internet access

Public access to computers and Wi-Fi has been growing at City of Seattle Community Centers. The most recent addition is community wireless service (Wi-Fi) at Van Asselt community center in south Beacon Hill.  These computer terminals (kiosks) are provided through a partnership with Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, Associated Recreation Council, and this City of Seattle’s Community Technology Program.  You can also use these access spots to register for Parks’ programs. Here is a list of the public locations for you to use the computer or bring your own Wi-Fi device to connect. The Internet service for most of these locations is provided by Comcast, with Wave providing service in Beacon Hill and the Central District.

  • Alki
  • Dakota Place
  • Hiawatha
  • Laurelhurst
  • Magnuson
  • Meadowbrook
  • Montlake
  • Queen Anne
  • Ballard
  • Bitter Lake
  • Loyal Heights
  • Garfield TLC
  • Ravenna-Eckstein
  • Van Asselt
  • Belltown
  • Delridge
  • Garfield
  • High Point
  • Miller
  • Northgate
  • Rainier Beach
  • Rainier
  • South Park
  • Yesler

Vote – Adobe Youth Voices Awards Finalists 2015

Check out the finalists and simply click the “Vote” button for your favorite media pieces. You hold the power to decide the Audience Award winner and your participation helps students worldwide receive Adobe software, hardware, and a donation towards a charity of their choice.  Feel free to vote for multiple projects on your personal mobile devices, tablets, desktops, and laptops. Don’t forget to support your top picks by sharing them on your social channels. Winners announced on June 22, 2015.

Vote here.

Easy access to technology resources for your lab

We have launched a new tool for you to use in managing your lab. This Resource Library is a repository for community-contributed materials related to technology learning and running public technology learning centers. Arranged by topic areas, you will find resources and tools for computer skills curriculum, technology resource management, evaluating the success of your programs, and more.  There is also an opportunity for you to contribute items that you have found useful in running your lab.  Visit the virtual Resource Library  here.


Seattle joins National Digital Inclusion Alliance

The City of Seattle has just signed as a member of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA).

The NDIA is a new membership organization founded in March 2015, bringing together cities, libraries, non-profits, and other institutions to foster effective broadband adoption programs and policies helping vulnerable residents. The founding members and organizations have a long history of policy leadership and direct service providing digital literacy instruction and community technology centers. The Alliance’s initial policy focus is working with the FCC to encourage Lifeline reform inclusion of low cost Internet. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance also issued a statement along with members in support of extending Lifeline to broadband.

The NDIA already has more than 60 members, including the cities of Portland, Kansas City, Milwaukee and Minneapolis, and the founding members New York and Kansas City Public Libraries, Benton Foundation, Multicultural Media and Telecom Council, Non-profit Technology Network (NTEN), and the School, Health and Libraries Broadband (SHLB) coalition.

To become a member, cities and other organizations are asked to agree to the following statement of principles:

“We are leaders of local community organizations, public libraries and other institutions that are working hard to reduce digital disparities among our neighbors. To improve the daily lives of all community members, we call for public policies for digital inclusion that reflect what we’ve learned from experience.

“Broadband adoption is most effectively promoted by community-driven efforts that combine:
– Affordable home broadband service
– Public broadband access, and
– Locally trusted technology training and support.”

The City is pleased to join with others to support a unified voice and body of experts on broadband adoption.  See more here.

New Learning & the Web site shows how eLearning is for you

Online learning means that you can gain knowledge and skills (often for free) to help you complete your GED, get a job or help in getting a better job.  Some courses can lead towards degrees and certifications, while others are where you can simply learn something new.

Visit our Get Online Learning & the Web page to get answers and solutions to:

  • What do I need to get started on my online learning journey?  Take an assessment to gauge your eLearning readiness.
  • Where can I go to learn online?
  • What resources are available for school age kids or for help in GED or college prep?

Visit our site and take our short survey and we will send you a free 4GB flash drive – www.seattle.gov/getonline (see site for limitations).

If you are interested in promoting online learning at your organization, contact Vicky Yuki by email or at 206-233-7877 for more information and distribution material.

Cinema and civic tech at Civic Cocktail, May 6

It’s cinema and civic tech at the May Civic Cocktail, featuring a panel discussion about how technology can impact civics in Seattle and a preview of the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF).

Join the conversation, Wednesday, May 6 at Palace Ballroom, 2100 Fifth Ave. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Program is at 6 p.m. Cost to attend is $20 to $25. Register at Seattle CityClub.

Across the country, big cities are investing in technology to connect people, improve cities and make government more effective. Cities are hosting hackathons, developing technology plans and innovating alongside entrepreneurs and startups. What makes Seattle unique in civic tech and what can we learn from other cities? Microsoft’s directors of technology and civic engagement/innovation in Boston, Cathy Wissink, and Chicago, Adam Hecktman, will join Rebecca Lovell, the city of Seattle’s startup liaison, to discuss how technology can power civic engagement and innovation.


Then, SIFF Artistic Director Carl Spence will talk with host Joni Balter about the popular film festival and what to expect this year. Recognized as one of the top film festivals in North America, SIFF (May 14 – June 7) is the largest, most highly attended film festival in the United States reaching more than 150,000 people annually.

A panel of journalists will join the discussion: Crosscut’s Drew Atkins and Florangela Davila, Geekwire’s Monica Guzman, The Stranger’s Charles Mudede, Puget Sound Business Journal’s Emily Parkhurst and KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney. 

Civic Cocktail – presented by Seattle Channel, Seattle CityClub and Crosscut – offers a night of networking, civic conversation, Tom Douglas appetizers and a no-host bar.

Watch past Civic Cocktails here.

Feds seek comments on how they can help promote broadband

How do you think the federal government can best promote broadband adoption, deployment and competition? President Obama has created a federal Broadband Opportunity Council composed of 25 federal agencies. He has instructed them to come up with plans for increasing broadband access and adoption. They are seeking comments on how to do this. The deadline for submitting comments is June 10, 2015. Written comments can be submitted by email to BOCrfc2015@ntia.doc.gov. See more about the Council and the comments in the press release. This effort is being led by the US Department of Commerce NTIA and Department of Agriculture, which has worked on rural broadband deployment.

Seattle Community Media: LIVE Programming!

Beginning Monday, June 8, 2015, Seattle Community Media (SCM) public access TV will offer a special live showcase, Seattle Community Media LIVE!, where producer-members can bring their program to a live audience.

The showcase program will be a one (1) hour long, beginning at 6:00 p.m.  SCM staff will take care of many of the technical aspects of the program and will work with producers during pre-production for your live show.

All SCM member-producers will have access to request the live showcase on a first-come, first-served basis two weeks prior to show time.  To be scheduled as a live showcase program, you will be required to have viewers call into the studio during the show with comments or questions.

SCM membership is available to residents living in Seattle/King County. The annual fee for basic membership is only $35, and small additional annual fees give you access to HD video cameras, microphones, light kits, other production gear, as well as access to SCM’s Studio B for use in creating content for broadcast on Comcast cable Channel 77/Wave cable Channel 23.

If you have an expertise to teach, an important message to be heard, or a hobby to share, become a SCM member-producer and share your message! At SCM, you are in control! You control your program’s content.  You get to schedule your programs. You can upload your finished programs from anywhere you have internet access.

It’s easy to join. Just visit SCM’s website, www.seattlecommunitymedia.org, and click on “Membership.”  You’ll have ala carte access to different levels of membership and will pay for your membership online.  When you become a member you become an independent member-producer of SCM!