CTO represents Seattle at Consumer Electronics Show

mattAs part of Mayor Murray’s commitment to data-driven transparent government, Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller presented at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in January.

Michael detailed Seattle’s role as a Smart City as part of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s SuperSession on partnerships in government technology innovation.

The session was hosted by US CTO Megan Smith. In his talk, Michael focused on the Seattle 2030 District, Seattle Public Utilities Rainwatch program, MetroLab Network, Open Data, and Hack the Commute.

Watch the video. (Seattle starts at minute 45.)

Read the White House blog post.

Digital Adoption case studies available

A series of digital adoption case studies produced by Mobile Citizen and the Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network (NTEN) are now available on NTEN’s website.

Earlier this year, the two organizations collaborated on the 2015 Digital Adoption Report, a joint research project to explore how online services and internet access help nonprofits deliver services and programs, as well as connect with their constituents. As part of the project, four case studies were published, all of which may be found here.

The 2015 Digital Adoption Report provides benchmarks and qualitative data about online technology and digital inclusion efforts among nonprofits and the communities that they serve. Read more and download a copy of the report.

Youth build skills and a voice

Stories of families arriving in Seattle need to be heard from the families themselves. Bilen is a youth blogger with the PugetSoundOff.org, a  site and project run by the YMCA. She’s writing and speaking up about her experiences coming to the United States. Her messages, along with others blogging, are about respecting culture.

Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller, Joel Farris from the Mayor’s Office of Policy and Innovation, and David Keyes of the Department of Information Technology (DoIT) Community Technology Program, dropped by recently to hear from Bilen and other youth in the program. It led to a rich discussion about tech jobs, digital equity efforts, and technology and policy in Seattle. In discussing the upcoming Seattle.gov web redesign, students shared their real world experience helping family members find and translate online info into English. They shared some of their posts and plans.

Funding from DoIT and grants from others, including the Department of Neighborhoods and Office of Arts and Culture, has supported training, the online platform, and most importantly, opportunity for youth voice.  These include videos like “How Technology is Changing Seattle,” and “Here,” perspectives on what it’s like to be LGBTQ in high school, produced by the Chief Sealth International High School’s Gay Straight Alliance with the support of PugetSoundOff.org staff.

The City of Seattle DoIT funding in 2015 enabled digital literacy skills training for 174 teens, including 26 digital media internships. Project Director Kate Schneier explained that building self-confidence and civic voices goes hand-in-hand with development of their technology skills. Students learn to write blogs and take pictures that illustrate their messages. Video production training offers another outlet for creativity and message making. Through this, they practice articulating their points of view, talking to others about it, and learning to be more comfortable asking questions of others and discussing different views.  A milestone for them last year was working with other groups to host a Youth City Council Candidates’ Forum.

Their efforts also pay off in stars, or credits, they can earn from different writing and tech skill building activities. Rewards are offered along the way and enough stars earn students their own computer.

One project for this year is a photo narrative project to counter negative impressions of South Seattle with the positive stories of this very diverse community of interesting and caring residents.  Stay tuned to PugetSoundOff.org and follow #seayouth to learn more and engage with the powerful voices of Seattle youth. For more information about the program, you can also contact Kate Schneier at KSchneier@seattleymca.org or 206-549-3055.

Creative Coding for Kids

Local nonprofit Creative Coding for Kids was recently featured in a segment on KING5 news about their four day coding camp over the holiday break. The camp makes learning the skill of coding fun by teaching the children how to make their own video games.

The coding camp puts great emphasis on hosting an equal mix of boys and girls. “It’s really important to teach them young before society puts too many pressures upon them and imposes these gender roles,” according to Eric Fredrickson, founder of Creative Coding for Kids. “The important thing is if you’re a young kid and you have established your relationship with technology at a young age then you feel empowered in a way that you wouldn’t if you didn’t know how to code.”

The camp wouldn’t be possible without former IBM computer programmer Katherine Hitchcock sponsoring the cost of teachers. “Knowing that you can do it and knowing at an early age that you can do it and you’re not afraid of it is, I think really important,” says Hitchcock. Hitchcock knows just how important it is to encourage girls to take action in this male dominated field.

To help the students along the way on their path to code, local nonprofit InterConnection has generously provided a laptop for each student to keep. InterConnection works tirelessly to provide equal access to technology in the community and beyond. InterConnection partners with nonprofits to bring technology to disadvantaged youth and underserved communities around Seattle. Thanks to computer donations from corporations and people like you, InterConnection is able to provide affordable access to technology to those who need it most.

How Do I Help?

Ring in the new year with a good deed and donate your old electronics to InterConnection. For more information visit www.interconnection.org/donate .


Free tax preparation help from United Way of King County

Tax help is available in your neighborhood and in your language from IRS-certified volunteers. They’ll help you get all the credits you qualify for and file your return electronically, so you’ll get your refund fast. The best news: No appointment needed and no fees to pay.

Two Easy Ways to File Taxes

  1. Visit one of our 24 locations to get help filing taxes today.  Click here for the locations or call 206-461-3700.
  2. File for online at myfreetaxes.com—free for anyone making less than $62,000.

Anyone who earned less than $62,000 in 2015 can use United Way’s Free Tax Preparation services. However, some returns are too complex for our volunteers. For example, we cannot prepare returns for income earned in other states. For details, visit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

What to Bring


  • Social Security cards/individual tax identification numbers (ITINs) and birthdates for everyone to be listed on the return
  • Photo ID
  • All tax statements, such as W-2 forms (from all your employers), 1099 forms (interest, dividends, unemployment), SSA-1099 forms (Social Security and/or retirement income), etc. For a list of common tax forms, visit our FAQ section below.

Note: If you are filing jointly with your spouse, you both must be present to e-file.


  • Bank account number and routing number
  • A copy of last year’s tax return

Visit United Way’s site for more information.

Local seniors transformed into ‘Cyber Seniors’ with help from Garfield High School students

Medal.Group Health Cyber SeniorsGroup Health connects seniors with teens to become socially active online

Seniors from Aegis Living on Madison and the community officially became “Cyber Seniors” on Saturday, Dec. 19 thanks to the help of 10 teen mentors from Garfield Teen Life Center. After six, two-hour weekly sessions on Saturday mornings, the Cyber Seniors are more confident using a computer or tablet independently, or with minimal assistance, to engage with friends and family online. Each senior student was paired with a teen mentor who helped navigate through various functions such as email, Google searches, Skype, Facebook, and any other applications that were of interest to the seniors.

Cyber Seniors is a pilot program sponsored by Group Health and based off of the Canadian documentary “Cyber Seniors” www.cyberseniorsdocumentary.com. The program’s leaders adapted curriculum to both train the teens to become mentors and to help get more seniors comfortable with getting online and using the many tools the Internet offers to communicate and access important information, like scheduling medical appointments. The goal is to expand the program by working with assisted living facilities and high schools throughout Seattle.

“It was inspirational to see a bridge between the two generations,” said Marcelene Dorian-Richardson, health education specialist at Group Health. “Group Health is proud to support this program, which helps our aging friends and family members feel comfortable using the Internet. Using online tools and feeling comfortable using them is increasingly important as more and more health care information is available online.”

Both mentors and students felt a great sense of accomplishment by the end of the program.

For more information about the Cyber Seniors program, visit www.cyberseniorsdocumentary.com.





Computing open house

Middle and high school students and their families! Participate in hands-on activities and visit research labs to find out what computing is all about! Students and faculty from UW’s computing majors will introduce you to the broad range of problems computing can address. Representatives from local technology companies will show cool demos and tell you why they love their jobs.

UW Paul Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering (free parking after noon on Saturdays!), 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 5, 2015.

Celebrate Grace Hopper‘s birthday and the start of Computer Science Education Week.

RSVP so that we get enough giveaways!


Go global: Hour of Code December 7 – 13

The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries.  Anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event and participate in one-hour tutorials, available in more than 40 languages.  The Hour of Code is an introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics.

There are many student-guided and teacher-guided one-hour tutorials to kick off the Hour of Code.  Many new tutorials are being added daily, but here are some that will be available December 7:

If you’d like to host an Hour of Code event or you are interested in participating yourself, visit Code.org (https://code.org) for more details.

Public Hearing – Comcast Cable Franchise Renewal

Are you interested in the renewal of Comcast’s Seattle cable franchise? Here are some ways you can participate in the public hearing process and provide comments on the proposed legislation to approve the franchise (Council Bill 118549):

  • Attend the public hearing on Thursday, November 12th at 2:00 pm (location: Seattle City Hall).
  • Watch the public hearing live at 2:00pm on The Seattle Channel (Channel 21) or via the Seattle Channel website: Seattle Channel live
  • Watch the recorded public hearing later on The Seattle Channel website: Seattle Channel Recent Event Videos
  • Email comments on the proposed franchise to Councilmember Bruce Harrell (harrell@seattle.gov) or all Councilmembers at council@seattle.gov.
  • Send comments to Councilmember Bruce Harrell, City of Seattle Legislative Department, PO Box 34025, Seattle, WA 98124-4025

Written comments on the proposed ordinance will be accepted until 5:00 pm on November 30, 2015.

Questions regarding the public hearing process should be directed to Councilmember Bruce Harrell’s office by calling (206) 684-8804.

For other information related to the Comcast cable franchise renewal, visit the Office of Cable Communications Franchise Renewal page or call them at (206) 684-8498.