City of Seattle continues to explore options to deliver affordable, high-speed internet to consumers

Download speeds chart

Yesterday in Cedar Falls, Iowa, President Obama unveiled his plan to enable local governments to provide fast and affordable internet options for consumers. The Mayor’s office staff and the City’s Department of Information Technology are excited to look into the President’s proposals more in-depth to figure out how they play into the work we have already begun in Seattle.

Seattle is a city known for its technology and innovation, yet too many residents do not have access to the internet or the skills necessary to participate in our high-tech society. Over the course of Mayor Murray’s administration, the City of Seattle has – and continues to – explore several options that would increase the availability of competitive, affordable high-speed gigabit internet access.

Reducing regulatory barriers: Cities are competing with one another to attract high-speed internet providers. To make Seattle more welcoming to these opportunities, we are looking at increasing access to city infrastructure and simplifying our permitting processes.

In September, Mayor Murray signed legislation revising the SDOT Director’s Rule 2-2009, a critical first step in reducing Seattle’s regulatory barriers. These revisions allowed CenturyLink to select Seattle as one of its gigabit cities and begin deployment of gigabit-speed fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) to tens of thousands of single-family Seattle homes. In addition, Wave Broadband, under its CondoInternet brand, has announced its plans to build FTTP gigabit broadband service to Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood.

Utilizing/Investing in public/private partnerships: Seattle is continuing to engage experienced commercial internet service providers, exploring opportunities for improved internet access in the city. Discussions have included several options, from leveraging existing city-owned “dark fiber” as the backbone of a new fiber broadband network, to providing WiFi access throughout City facilities. Cascade Networks is currently leasing portions of our dark fiber to provide WiFi access in the International District and we are in discussions with additional vendors.

Further investigate municipal broadband: The City is taking the steps necessary to encourage providers to deliver new gigabit internet service. In case providers do not step up to provide competitive, affordable, and equal broadband services across Seattle, the City is exploring the feasibility of a City-operated fiber-to-the-premise municipal broadband solution that could bring high-speed access to Seattle households.

The City has studied offering municipal internet in the past, however several factors in the fiber and broadband landscapes have changed since the last study and could affect the viability of a City-operated service. In December, the City commissioned an update to its most recent municipal broad band study and we expect to see the results in April.

Earlier this month, the City of Seattle joined the Next Century Cities, a group of municipalities who recognize the importance of leveraging gigabit-level internet and fully realizing the full power of truly high-speed, affordable, and accessible internet.

Seattle awarded Bloomberg Philanthropies Innovation Teams grant

Mayor Murray announced today that Seattle is one of twelve U.S. cities selected to participate in the $45 million expansion of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Innovation Teams program. Seattle will use the $750,000 each year for three years to spur innovative policies on major challenges, including integrated neighborhood and transportation planning, housing affordability and homelessness.

“We have an opportunity in the next few years to create a long-term vision for the City of Seattle,” said Murray. “In today’s world, cities can be centers for innovation, unlike the gridlock that can happen at other levels of government. This grant will help accelerate our policymaking in the mayor’s office and city departments to an even higher gear.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ “i-teams” program aims to improve the capacity of City Halls around the country to effectively design and implement new approaches that improve citizens’ lives – relying on data, open innovation, and strong project and performance management to help mayors address pressing urban challenges.

Innovation teams function as in-house innovation consultants, moving from one mayoral priority to the next. The i-team in Seattle’s Office of Policy and Innovation will help the mayor, agency leaders and city staff through a data-driven process to assess problems, generate responsive new interventions, develop partnerships and deliver measurable results.

In addition to Seattle, innovation team grants will also go to the cities of Albuquerque, NM; Boston, MA; Centennial, CO; Jersey City, NJ; Long Beach, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Mobile, AL; Minneapolis, MN; Peoria, IL; Rochester, NY; and Syracuse, NY. Bloomberg Philanthropies also announced that two non-U.S. cities will receive Innovation Team grants: Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel.

In addition to the grants, cities receive robust implementation support and opportunities to exchange lessons learned and best practices with peers in other cities. Seattle’s i-teams will hit the ground running in the spring of 2015.

Previous i-team grants led to successes that reduced retail vacancies in Memphis, minimized unnecessary ambulance trips to the emergency room in Louisville, cut licensing time for new restaurants in Chicago, reduced homelessness in Atlanta, and reduced the murder rate in New Orleans.

For more information, visit

City of Seattle launches digital privacy initiative

Mayor Murray and Councilmembers Bruce Harrell and Mike O’Brien today announced a citywide privacy initiative, aimed at providing greater transparency into the City’s data collection and use practices.

“In the course of doing business with the public, the City is collecting and exchanging increasing amounts of data,” said Murray. “As we continue to make innovative technology investments, we need to implement practices that support public trust in the security and privacy of personal information.”

“This initiative is a chance to demonstrate to the people of Seattle that their local government is managing their personal information responsibly,” said O’Brien. “It is yet another chance for Seattle to lead the nation on an important issue in people’s daily lives—we are not aware of any other cities proactively working to protect people’s privacy like this initiative sets out to do.”

“We will go through a robust process to completely re-examine how the City collects, use, retain, and delete data to ensure the privacy of our residents,” said Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee. “The city has never approached it in this kind of methodical and transparent manner across all City departments and engaging with privacy leaders in Seattle.”

The collection of data occurs in every day City processes, such as paying a utility bill, renewing a pet license, browsing a web page, or signing up for an email list. Police, fire and emergency services collect different forms of video and electronic data. The increasing complexity of emerging technologies, business systems and laws mean the City must take appropriate steps to facilitate the collection, use, and disposal of data in a manner that balances the needs of the City to conduct its business with individual privacy, in a manner that builds public trust.

As part of this initiative, the City has convened a group of stakeholders from across City departments including Police, Fire, City Light, Transportation, Information Technology, Law, and Seattle Public Library. This team will create a set of principles that govern how the City approaches privacy-impacting decisions and a privacy statement that communicates the City’s privacy practices to the public. In addition, the group will propose an approach to educating City departments on privacy practices and assess compliance.

“One of the challenges police departments face is how to maintain public trust while embracing new technologies to support officers in the field and using data to more effectively deploy resources to address crime and disorder issues,” said Seattle Police Department Chief Operating Officer Mike Wagers. “Protecting the privacy of citizens, while deploying useful technologies and being more data-driven as a department, is of paramount importance and is why this initiative is so critical.”

To advise the City’s efforts, Murray announced the creation of a Privacy Advisory Committee. Comprised of privacy researchers, practitioners, and community representatives, this group of experts will provide guidance on leading privacy practices and potential public impact of proposed solutions.

The City expects to deliver a completed privacy statement and plan for implementation to Council by June 2015.

City partners with University of Washington on privacy research

Working in partnership with the City of Seattle, University of Washington’s Dr. Jan Whittington was recently announced as the recipient of a grant to examine the relationships that exist between open data, privacy and digital equity and what harm municipal data could lead to with consumers or the marketplace.

This funding, $50,000, was awarded through a request for proposal from the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology on the exploration of implications of government release of large datasets. This research is funded by Microsoft, with a $25,000 match from the City of Seattle.

This joint effort will enable the City to be more transparent by making more of its data available through its open data platform,, while implementing the processes necessary to protect the privacy of data subjects. It will also result in a set of model policies and practices that can be leveraged by other municipalities seeking to enhance the privacy and utility of their open data programs.

Murray proposes 2015-16 budget

mayor before council budget speech

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today presented to the City Council his proposed budget for 2015-16 that brings more transparency, more innovation, better organization and better performance to City government.

Murray outlined several major reform proposals, beginning with key reforms to the City’s budgeting process itself.

“We will move toward a performance-based budgeting system and begin paying for outcomes,” said Murray in his budget address to Council. “This will lead to streamlining of services, better use of resources and greater performance from our departments. And, perhaps most importantly, it will drive better service for the people of Seattle.”

Murray’s additional proposed reforms to the City’s budgeting process include:

  • moving City departments to a standard accounting system;
  • conducting a zero-based budgeting exercise for a least two City departments for a better accounting of baseline expenditures;
  • launching an interactive, online “Open Budget” tool on the model of the City of Boston’s tool for greater transparency in City spending;
  • developing performance metrics for all City departments for more efficiency and accountability;
  • launching an online dashboard to track department performance and provide greater transparency and accountability; and
  • establishing an advisory committee on the model of the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council to provide greater transparency and better performance.

“We will use data – not tradition – to drive how our government functions,” Murray said.

Murray also proposed what he said will be ‘a major restructuring of how we as a City plan for our future.’

“We will look across departments to establish new best practices of coordinated planning,” said Murray, “so that as we plan, we plan together, and when we build new housing, we are also planning new jobs, parks and transportation to support them.”

And, Murray said he has tasked Human Services Director John Okamoto to conduct an audit of the City’s nearly $35 million annual investment in homeless services and to compare City spending against national best practices.

“On any given night, there are at least 2,300 unsheltered individuals on our city streets – and very likely there are more,” said Murray. “It is time for us to learn if a better budgeting approach here in City Hall will create better outcomes for individuals living right now on the streets of this city.”

In his address to Council, Murray restated his priorities of a safe, affordable, vibrant and interconnected city for all. Highlights of Murray’s 2015-16 budget by priority area are available by clicking here.

Murray also said his budget shows how cities can be ‘an incubator of change’ and ‘a laboratory of democracy’ by funding ‘bold policy experimentation,’ including:

“These budget commitments demonstrate a City government flexible enough to reorganize around our priorities and support new policy that reflects the evolving needs of our communities,” Murray said.

As the centerpiece of his agenda for a more affordable city, Murray said that he would announce with Council the members, structure and timeframe for action of his Affordable Housing Advisory Committee on September 23 at 10:30 a.m. on the Seventh Floor of City Hall.

City Council will begin the hearings on the budget proposal on October 2nd.

To learn more about Mayor Ed Murray’s proposed 2015-16 budget please visit here.

Watch the speech:

Mayor Murray’s broadband plan already yielding results

Mayor Murray’s broadband plan already yielding results

Mayor Murray today announced that, as part of his three-point plan for more and better broadband service in Seattle, he will send legislation to City Council that will bring more competition to the marketplace and more access to service – especially in neighborhoods that are currently underserved.

Murray said his legislation will change a regulatory barrier – the SDOT “director’s rule” – that has prevented companies from investing in their own high-speed fiber networks within the city. CenturyLink earlier today announced that this change will allow it to bring one-gigabit, fiber-to-the-premises internet access to tens of thousands of single-family Seattle homes in Beacon Hill, Central District, Ballard, and West Seattle by the end of 2015.

“So much of our recent economic growth has been due to the success of high tech companies and start-ups that have chosen to make Seattle home,” said Murray. “Yet not all Seattleites are benefiting from our technology boom, and we know that some neighborhoods today lack adequate, competitive choices for broadband internet access. CenturyLink’s announcement to bring fiber internet access to tens of thousands of homes is an important first step in my broadband strategy, but there is more we can do as city to bring equal and affordable access to all.”

“The proposed changes will help expand broadband deployment in Seattle by opening up our market and making it easier to build the necessary infrastructure for next generation broadband services to neighborhoods like Beacon Hill,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology committee. “Broadband deployment is an equity issue and we must make sure underserved neighborhoods receive the same type of investments. Next generation broadband service is critical to developing our local economy, enabling telecommuting, taking online classes, healthcare, and ensuring businesses have the speeds to be successful. This proposed legislation to supersede an outdated rule is long overdue. I applaud the Mayor in prioritizing resources for this work and advancing legislation through a community stakeholder process.”

In addition to reducing regulatory barriers, Murray said his broadband plan includes pursuing public-private partnerships to allow companies to lease City-owned dark fiber already running beneath our streets, as well as continuing to assess the feasibility of a municipal broadband option.

“This is a great first step in opening our neighborhoods to competitive broadband services.  The Mayor’s office is actively working with members of the community and the broadband providers to give us more competition and choices.  This is a win for all of us and it will encourage better broadband service, especially in the under-served neighborhoods in Seattle,” said Robert Kangas, Chair of Upping Technology for Underserved Neighbors.

“Some of the most famous entrepreneurs in the world started their businesses out of their homes here in Washington State. Putting enterprise-grade internet speeds within everyone’s reach will be an instant boon to Seattle’s tech industry as it places the ultimate tool required to start and grow a tech company into the hands of any potential entrepreneur,” said Patti Brooke, vice president of government affairs and member programs at the Washington Technology Industry Association.

“This announcement puts forward a solution that provides residents with more broadband choices while furthering the City’s efforts in driving tech access and affordability by cutting through the red tape that has hindered broadband investment in the past,” said Brian Hsi, of the Seattle Citizens Technology and Telecommunications Advisory Board.

“Attracting residents, start-ups, and businesses that rely on fast internet speed is vital to a globally competitive city,” said Maud Daudon, president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. “Increasing to 1 gigabit internet speed will help cement Seattle’s status as a burgeoning technology powerhouse.”

The proposed legislation to replace the director’s rule is the result of several months of stakeholder meetings that included representatives from communication service providers, City departments, the Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board, the Citizens Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Board, the Public Space Management Taskforce, Upping Technology in Underserved Neighborhoods, and the Beacon Hill Community Council.

“I am committed to digital equity for this city, but it’s a new era,” said Murray. “Cities are competing for broadband and have to be more welcoming. To compete – and to remain technology leaders – we need to relook at some parts of how Seattle does business.”

Murray’s legislation will be transmitted to the City Council this week, where it will be taken up by the Transportation Committee.

City of Seattle awards funds to promote digital equity; 23 projects receive Technology Matching Funds

Technology Matching Fund Recipients

Mayor Murray and the Seattle City Council today announced the 23 organizations that will receive a total of $320,000 in Technology Matching Funds from the City of Seattle. The awardees passed unanimously out of committee. Watch the video here. Approval by the full Council is expected on Monday.

“While access to technology has increased for many, there is still a significant gap in the access to and use of technology in Seattle,” said Mayor Murray. “Technology skills are necessary for success in the 21st century and these funds play a critical role in preparing our residents.”

“These funds play an important role in leveling the playing field. They help our must vulnerable residents use technology in innovative and meaningful ways, including seniors, at risk youth, homeless women and children, immigrants and refugees, and people with disabilities,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee.

The money will support projects throughout the city to ensure all Seattleites have access to and proficiency using internet-based technologies. These projects were selected from Seattle’s Technology Advisory Board from more than 67 applicants and will contribute a projected $685,711 in community matching resources, more than double the City’s investment.

The funds will support greater digital equity in Seattle. Several projects will help Seattle build a diverse technology workforce, by providing STEM education programs for youth of color and computer and applications training to immigrants and low-income adults.  Other programs will help seniors and people with disabilities better engage using a variety of tools, including tablets, touch screens and social media. The projects will also enable greater electronic civic participation for many disadvantaged residents.

The 2014 Technology Matching Fund award recipients include:

  • Ballard NW Senior Center
  • Casa Latina
  • North Seattle Family Center/ Children’s Home Society of WA
  • Denny Terrace Computer Lab
  • Elizabeth Gregory Home
  • Filipino Community of Seattle
  • Helping Link
  • Hilltop House
  • Lao Women Association of Washington
  • Literacy Source
  • North Seattle Boys & Girls Club
  • Northaven Retirement and Assisted Living
  • Open Doors for Multicultural Families/STAR Center at Center Park
  • Ross Manor Computer Lab
  • Seattle Neighborhood Coalition
  • Solid Ground Sand Point Housing Campus
  • Somali Community Services of Seattle
  • South Park Area Redevelopment Center
  • The Jefferson Terrace Computer Lab Committee
  • University of Washington Women’s Center
  • Vietnamese Friendship Association
  • Washington Community Alliance for Self-Help (CASH)
  • YMCA of Greater Seattle – Y @ Cascade People’s Center.

For more information and a map of Technology Matching Fund awardees visit

Seattle energy code bests national standard

the-light-bulb-349400_640A strong energy code is one of Seattle’s key tools for achieving significant reductions in energy use in the building sector and reaching the city’s ambitious goal of carbon neutrality.

Seattle has consistently had one of the most advanced codes in the country and the new 2012 Seattle Energy Code is no exception. That’s the finding of a recently released study comparing Seattle’s Energy Code (SEC) to a national energy standard.

Mayor Murray announces appointment of Chief Technology Officer

Michael Mattmiller

Michael Mattmiller

Mayor Murray today announced Michael Mattmiller as his appointment for the position of the Director of the Department of Information Technology (DoIT), the City of Seattle’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

“The City of Seattle should be a national leader in the use of technology to empower residents and businesses and enhance the delivery of city services,” said Murray. “Michael has demonstrated the knowledge and focus on collaboration and engagement that I believe is necessary to drive technology adoption and make technology work for our city. I look forward to working with him toward our shared vision of an innovative, interconnected city.”

An experienced consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Microsoft, Mattmiller has worked with government agencies and businesses to solve complex systems and technology challenges. His work has spanned technology domains, including software and service development, operations, security, and privacy.

“I’m honored to be joining the City of Seattle and the Department of Information Technology,” said Mattmiller. “The hardworking professionals of DoIT are passionate about using technology to enable the City to serve the people and businesses of Seattle. I look forward to working with DoIT staff to help the Mayor achieve his vision for both city staff and Seattle residents and businesses.”

With the leadership of the new CTO, the City of Seattle will embrace the latest technology trends and deliver effective software and infrastructure solutions to support the ‘city worker of tomorrow,’ expand the city’s digital equity efforts, identify and implement ways to access government and services and unlock innovation within the city.

Mattmiller will start on Monday, June 23 and will make $140,000 annually. The CTO appointment must be confirmed by the Seattle City Council.

The Department of Information Technology has 193 employees and an annual budget of $41.8 million. The department is responsible for the City’s main data center, website, The Seattle Channel, the City’s fiber network, the City’s data and telephone network, the Public Safety Radio network, cable franchises, and technology oversight and planning.


DoIT Plan
Three key objectives and supporting actions


What the community is saying about Michael:

“Michael is an accomplished IT professional and community leader whose industry experience will help build the technology infrastructure to meet the needs of our growing city.”
— Glenn Johnson, Executive Vice President of Information Technology of Alaska Air Group and President of Horizon Air


“Michael is a dedicated leader in our Seattle community. He brings humility and a focus on results to the work he takes on, and I commend the Mayor on his thoughtful choice.”
— Rep. Brady Walkinshaw, 43rd Legislative District.


“His passion for innovation will help Seattle become a leader in civic IT. I look forward to working with Michael to ensure the City continues to enable its technology and startup business communities.”
— Liz Allen Pearce, CEO of the Seattle-based startup LiquidPlanner and a former colleague of Michael’s.

City report highlights how Seattleites use technology

The City of Seattle released new findings on technology access, adoption and interaction by Seattle residents. These findings are based on feedback from 2,600 residents via online and phone surveys and in-person focus groups in multiple languages about their use, concerns, and barriers to using the Internet, social media, cable TV and online government services.

“This data shows that we’re making great strides in technology, but a digital gap still exists between our neighbors,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We’re already using the data in this report to influence how the City of Seattle interacts with our neighbors and to better target our outreach and engagement strategies.”

The Mercer Garage roof becomes an award-winning public garden

The garden on top of a three-story garage near Seattle Center won this year’s top award from the Washington Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. … The 30,000-square-foot garden is on Mercer Garage at 300 Mercer St. City officials say it is the first publicly accessible, large-scale community rooftop garden in the U.S.