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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!

Recycle “Anything with a Plug” at InterConnection’s Free 2015 eCycle Event

InterConnection and CenturyLink are hosting a major, City-wide electronics, free recycling event at CenturyLink Field’s North Parking Lot, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. this Saturday April 11th. InterConnection’s 2015 eCycle Event will give the community a chance to recycle any used electronics they have free of charge. People can recycle personal devices like cell phones and laptops, household items such as TVs and stereos as well as kitchen appliances both large and small. Anything with a plug will be accepted.  More info here.

CenturyLink broadband update, April 14, 6 p.m.

At the April 14 meeting of the City’s Technology Advisory Board, CenturyLink will be providing an update on their broadband and gigabit service buildout. Mary Taylor, State and Local Government Director, and Robert Larsen, Director of Local Network Planning will be presenting. The meeting will be held at 6 pm in the 27th floor conference room, Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 Fifth Ave. Click here for more information about CTAB .

Cable Code Updates Impact Competition and Customer Service

Seattle cable TV customers might be interested to know that the City recently updated its Cable Code. On April 27th, there will be a workshop for building managers who may be asked to sign cable contracts (more below). Many people don’t even know Seattle has a ‘Cable Code’, but it is the part of Seattle Municipal Code (Section 21.60) that sets rules for cable TV companies operating in the City.  The Cable Code includes an entire section dedicated to consumer protection issues; called the Cable Customer Bill of Rights.

The Cable Code was long overdue for an update; 63 percent of it was over 36 years old – written in 1976.  That’s when TVs still had dials, TV remote controls weren’t commonly available, and when the first VHS home video cassette recorder was introduced.  It’s also when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a new rule requiring all new cable systems to have 20 channels.  A lot has changed in cable TV technology and regulation since 1976.

While most of the Code updates were to fix outdated information and processes and ensure consistency with current federal cable law, there were a few more substantial changes. These changes focused on helping promote a more competition-friendly environment, while enhancing cable customer protections.

Promoting More Cable Competition

Increasing the competitive environment for cable service was done by eliminating the old structure of Cable Franchise Districts (see map here: http://clerk.seattle.gov/~ordpics/114546a.gif) which divided the City into large, irregular sections. The Districts were the results of cable company evolution in the City, with original smaller companies operating in certain areas being bought by larger companies, slowly creating five (5) very large franchise areas.  By eliminating the Cable Districts, a cable operator (new or existing) can now apply to build-out and serve smaller segments of the City, making it more likely a company might make that investment.  Along with these new, more flexible build out requirements, cable operators are required to make a commitment to serving lower income areas to ensure the benefits of having cable competition also reaches these areas.

Enhanced Cable Customer Protections

More cable competition could positively impact customer service in the future, but updates to the Cable Customer Bill of Rights (CCBOR) provisions can help individual customers now. Originally enacted in 1999, the CCBOR provides Seattleites with enhanced consumer protections and is meant to encourage cable operators to consistently provide good service to customers, or to compensate customers when they don’t. The recent CBBOR changes offer three key improvements:

  1. Cable companies using interactive voice response (IVR) systems are required to give you the option to speak to a live customer service agent within 3 minutes of your call being answered by the IVR. If you select to speak with a live customer service agent, that agent is required to answer the call within 30 seconds of your being transferred to them. These rules apply during normal business hours, which are Mon-Fri, 9:00 a.m. -7:00 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (see SMC 21.60.820.B.4)
  2. Cable companies, upon your request, are required to send you a written statement detailing the estimated cost of the service, repair, or installation you are asking about before delivery of the service or before any work is performed. (see SMC 21.60.820.E.5)
  3. The amount of minimum compensation a cable operator is required to provide a cable TV customer when the company fails to comply with Seattle’s customer service standards has increased from an average of $5.00 to $20.00. A table listing all of Seattle’s cable customer service standards, and the minimum compensation for violations of the standards, is available under SMC 21.60.850. Because these are unique to Seattle and customer service agents are usually not located in the Seattle area, customers need to know your rights under the CCBOR and request compensation for any violation.

Owners of Multi-Family Dwelling Buildings

It’s a smart business practice for both building owners and cable operators to have clear written agreements on the conditions of providing access and cable services to the building. Coming to these agreements can be complicated. The City has added language to the Cable Code to ensure building owners and cable companies are clear on their rights when it comes to exclusive service and right-of entry aspects of agreements for cable service. This includes language that says cable operators can no longer require a long-term exclusive agreement as a condition of service.

To help building owners and managers understand their rights and this new Code language, the City is holding a free seminar later this month (Monday, April 27th at 6:30pm at Seattle Pacific University).  To register to attend, email the Office of at Office of Cable and Broadband cableoffice@seattle.gov or call (206) 684-5957.

These Cable Code changes were approved by the City Council and signed by Mayor Murray the week of March 23, 2015, and go into effect on April 27, 2015.  If you have questions about the Code changes or need help resolving an issue with your cable company, contact Seattle’s Office of Cable and Broadband at (206) 684-8498 or cableoffice@seattle.gov. You can also visit their website to file a comment or to find other useful cable related information at www.seattle.gov/cable.