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Digital Equity Plan update

The City is wrapping up the first phase of work on a Digital Equity Initiative. A draft vision statement, principles and goals have been developed with the tremendous help so far from 17 interviewees, four community roundtables and a team from multiple departments with a community, education, faith and industry Digital Equity Action Committee. See the draft on our Digital Equity web site. Over the next six months, we will be identifying and assessing specific strategies for implementation. Look for this late in the year or to be announced with a splash early next year. Starting next month, we will also be accepting comments and ideas for action the City and community together can take to move digital equity forward in Seattle. Two Community Technology Advisory Board (CTAB) committees (Digital Inclusion and Cable and Broadband) are using their meetings to generate and discuss ideas. The public is welcome to participate in these. Contact David.keyes@seattle.gov if you are interested or sign up for the committee listserv to stay up to date.

Seattle to be part of HUD ConnectHome Program

Seattle was named as one of 28 communities around the country to be part of HUD’s ConnectHome program to increase internet access and digital opportunity for low-income families in HUD assisted housing. Representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), City of Seattle, and Seattle Housing Authority announced the local impacts of the ConnectHome initiative pilot.

The announcement marks a major step in providing communities across the nation with tools to improve digital opportunity for HUD-assisted housing residents. ConnectHome establishes a platform for collaboration between local governments, members of private industry, nonprofit organizations, and other interested entities to produce locally-tailored solutions for narrowing the digital divide.

For two decades, the City of Seattle has worked to provide community members with equal opportunity to use and access technology, through partnerships, educational programming, services, and resources. Since this work began in the 1990’s, Seattle has awarded $3.4 million in Technology Matching Fund grants through 270 projects, set up public access sites and training (in libraries, community centers and other city facilities), provided cable broadband for community organizations, and launched the Technology Indicators for a Healthy Community project to measure technology and broadband access and adoption.

ConnectHome will complement the work already underway in Seattle by:

  • Requiring HUD-funded new residential construction and substantial rehabilitation projects to support broadbandinternet connectivity. Locally, the Seattle Housing Authority is already committed to providing infrastructure for technology access as it updates buildings throughout the city, and redevelops communities such as Yesler Terrace, High Point, Rainier Vista and New Holly. ConnectHome will help underpin that commitment and will help low-income residents access monthly broadband service in buildings that support it.
  • Service cost reductions from CenturyLink and Sprint. CenturyLink will make broadband service available to HUD households, via its Internet Basics program, for $9.95 per month for the first year and $14.95 per month for the next four years. Sprint will work with HUD and the ConnectHome program to make its free wireless broadband Internet access service program available to eligible K-12 students living in public housing.
  • Providing communities with the flexibility to spend portions of their Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grants on local broadband initiatives and associated connectivity enhancements, including approximately $150 million dedicated to the current competition.
  • Sharing Seattle’s experience, guidance and best practices nationally to better integrate digital literacy programming and access to technology.

Read more here.

Welcome Marlon Givens

Seattle’s Department of Information Technology welcomes Marlon Givens, Seattle Youth Employment Program intern to Community Technology. We are very excited for Marlon to be joining our team for the next seven weeks this summer.  Some of Marlon’s duties will include designing the fall Get Online campaign and providing support for the Technology Matching Fund and Access for All cable broadband for organizations program. He will also be helping with DoIT tours for students and much needed administrative support. Marlon wants to use his drawing talent to study video game design in college and hopes to work for Sony creating video games in the future. He will be playing football for Garfield High School in the fall as a sophomore.

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.