Mayor returns from trade mission to China and Japan

Trade mission to China & Japan

Mayor Ed Murray participated in a trade and cultural mission to China and Japan this month. The mission was part of an ongoing effort to encourage more foreign direct investment in Seattle, expand economic opportunities for local companies, and establish international partnerships. Murray joined the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the Washington State China Relations Council, the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, the Port of Seattle, the University of Washington, and other local business on this trade mission to promote Seattle as a global hub for trade and innovation.

Seattle has deep cultural connections to China and Japan, and is home to thriving Chinese and Japanese communities. This trade and cultural mission reaffirms Seattle’s commitment to expanding economic opportunity and continuing cultural and educational exchanges between our countries.

Highlights from China:

  • Seattle and the City of Hangzhou signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to support the promotion of technology and innovation, e-commerce, trade, economic development and life sciences. At this ceremony, Amazon China also signed an MOU with Hangzhou that will promote new opportunities for Seattle-based e-commerce companies in China.
  • Mayor Murray announced the signing of an MOU to support biomedical research and the establishment of a joint institute between the University of Washington School of Medicine and Shenzhen-based BGI, one of the world’s largest genomics organizations.
  • Mayor Murray joined Xiamen Airlines in announcing new non-stop service from Shenzhen to Seattle starting in September 2016. This new service is the result of work by the City and Port of Seattle to increase travel between the two economic hubs.
  • China’s largest residential property developer, China Vanke, announced that it will invest in a residential tower in Seattle’s downtown. This is the company’s first investment in Washington state.

Highlights from Japan

  • Mayor Murray spoke to more than 200 Japanese business leaders to promote investment and trade in Seattle at an event hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy.
  • Mayor Murray committed to stronger business partnerships with Keidanren, Japan’s largest and most influential economic organization, and the Japan Association of Travel Agents.
  • Mayor Murray joined Starbucks Japan CEO Jun Sekine and Kobe Mayor Kizo Hisamoto to announce the opening of a flagship Starbucks store in Kobe’s Meriken Park. The new flagship store commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Kobe-Seattle Sister City relationship and the 50th anniversary of the Kobe-Seattle Sister Port relationship.
  • Mayor Murray visited Kobe’s Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution to discuss emergency preparedness and earthquake-grade building codes.
  • Mayor Murray and the First Gentleman met with Ms. Kanako Otsuji, Japan’s first and only openly gay member of the House of Councilors of the National Diet, and Shibuya Mayor Ken Hasebe, who led the passage of “partnership certificates” as a means to recognize same-sex marriage, to discuss LGBTQ rights and issues.

Photos from Mayor Murray’s trip available here.

Seattle selected to join 100 Resilient Cities Network

Mayor Ed Murray welcomed Seattle’s selection into a global network of cities building urban resilience as part of the 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC). Through the partnership, Seattle will soon hire its first-ever Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), to lead the city’s efforts to build a citywide Resilience Strategy – with support from 100RC on its creation and implementation.

Selection for the 100RC Network was highly competitive. Seattle was one of only 37 cities chosen from more than 325 applicants on the basis of their willingness, ability, and need to prepare for future challenges.

“We are honored to be selected to join this important network of cities from across the globe and we look forward to partnering with 100 Resilient Cities to develop creative solutions to some of our biggest challenges including natural disasters, climate change, and inequity,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “This funding, partnership, and global network will help us address the disproportionate risks for Seattle’s communities of color and residents with lower incomes, a key action of our Equity & Environmental Initiative.”

With the number of people living in urban areas rapidly increasing, the 100RC Network was established by The Rockefeller Foundation to help cities prepare for the impacts of urbanization, globalization, and climate change. As a member of the 100RC Network, Seattle will gain access to tools, funding, technical expertise, and other resources to help our city meet the challenges of the 21st century.

As part of the 100RC Network, Seattle will be eligible to receive grant funding to hire a CRO, who will lead the citywide resilience-building process. In the coming months, Mayor Murray, along with his Offices of Sustainability & Environment, Policy & Innovation, and Emergency Management, will work with stakeholders to identify and appoint the City’s Chief Resilience Officer.

“We are so proud to welcome Seattle to 100 Resilient Cities,” 100RC President Michael Berkowitz said. “We selected Seattle because of its leaders’ commitment to resilience building and the innovative and proactive way they’ve been thinking about the challenges the city faces. We’re excited to get to work.”

“For us, a resilient city has good emergency response and meets its citizens’ needs,” Berkowitz continued. “It has diverse economies and takes care of both its built and natural infrastructure. It has effective leadership, empowered stakeholders, and an integrated planning system. All of those things are essential for a resilient city.”

About 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation

100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic, and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each of our cities who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a Resilience Strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges. For more information, visit: www.100ResilientCities.org.

Mayor Murray announces economic partnership with Hangzhou

Mayor Ed Murray  announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Seattle and the City of Hangzhou to support the promotion of technology and innovation, e-commerce, trade, economic development and life sciences.

The agreement between Seattle and Hangzhou will help companies like Amazon expand business opportunities in Hangzhou and other cities in China. It was announced during a trade mission by a delegation of Seattle-area businesses and representatives from the Washington State China Relations Council to Hangzhou.

“The Cities of Hangzhou and Seattle have evolved into global technology hubs and are home to the world’s leading e-commerce companies,” Murray said. “Through this agreement, we can focus on our shared interests and create new opportunities for economic growth and innovation that benefit both of our cities.”

Today’s agreement is one of several announced during Murray’s five-day trade mission to China. Murray was joined in Hangzhou by representatives from Amazon, Blue Nile, Costco, and the University of Washington. The visit to Hangzhou was organized by the Washington State China Relations Council. Photos of today’s signing ceremony are available here.

“These agreements not only create new economic opportunities but also strong bonds between people in both cities,” said Kristi Heim, president of the Washington State China Relations Council. “This visit to Hangzhou has raised the profile of Seattle as a leading center for innovation with great companies and institutions. We are thrilled to support this new channel for cross-border business and city-to-city collaboration.”

The trade mission is part of an ongoing effort to encourage more foreign direct investment in Seattle, expand economic opportunities for local companies, and establish international partnerships. Murray also joined the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce for visits to the cities of Shenzhen and Hong Kong. In Shenzhen, Murray and delegation members met with government officials and business representatives during a Seattle Day Forum. Highlights include:

  • China Vanke Co. announced its first investment in Seattle: Vanke, China’s largest real-estate developer, announced a partnership with developer Laconia on a 43-story tower planned for construction at 600 Wall Street.
  • Agreement with City of Shenzhen on medical research: Murray and Seattle trade representatives met with their Chinese counterparts in the City of Shenzhen, culminating in the signing of collaborative biomedical research agreements between the City of Seattle and Shenzhen and the University of Washington and genomics firm BGI.
  • Xiamen Airlines to offer direct service between Seattle and Shenzhen: The City of Seattle, Port of Seattle and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce announced the first U.S. service by China’s Xiamen (pronounced sha’-mun) Airlines for direct connections to Xiamen and Shenzhen with Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, beginning September 26, 2016.

Mayor Murray announces agreement with Shenzhen to advance biomedical research

Mayor Ed Murray announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Seattle and the City of Shenzhen, China, to support biomedical research and the establishment of a joint institute between the University of Washington School of Medicine and Shenzhen-based BGI, one of the world’s largest genomics organizations.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) commits both cities to greater cooperation on issues of medical research and health care. UW and BGI signed a separate MOU in Shenzhen agreeing to collaborate on development of the joint institute.

“This agreement between the Cities of Seattle and Shenzhen will encourage and support meaningful cooperation between two global leaders of innovation in medical research and technology,” Murray said. “Ultimately, it will create new opportunities for our biotech and health care industries, and help advance pioneering medical technology that will benefit patients, doctors and communities around the globe.”

“We at the UW are looking forward to working alongside BGI in charting the future of genomics research, especially in accelerating the application of new sequencing technologies to human health,” said Dr. Jay Shendure, an M.D./Ph.D scientist and professor of genome sciences at the UW, and a national advisor on precision medicine initiatives.

The joint institute is part of BGI’s goal of developing an innovation center in Seattle. The City of Seattle looks forward to working with BGI on the process to develop this significant addition to the city’s innovation economy.

Shenzhen, a coastal city of over 10 million people, is considered the high-tech and life sciences hub of China. “With a sound foundation in the fields of biotech and health technology, a host of well-positioned industries have taken shape in Shenzhen, including gene medicine, polypeptide medicine, anti-tumor medicine, medical imaging equipment and life information monitoring,” according to the MOU.

The MOU was signed during the third day of a Murray-led trade delegation to three cities in China, which includes Hong Kong and Hangzhou. The mission is part of an ongoing effort to encourage more foreign direct investment in Seattle, expand economic opportunities for local companies, and establish international partnerships.

“We are thrilled to be part of this historic moment between Seattle and Shenzhen,” said Kristi Heim, president of the Washington State China Relations Council. “Deepening the partnerships between our two cities will support economic growth, scientific advancement and long-term collaboration in public health and environmental protection.”

The agreement builds on two earlier MOUs signed in 2015 between Seattle and Shenzhen pledging cooperation issues such as low carbon urban development, electric vehicles, information technology, life sciences, and people-to-people exchanges. Murray also hosted visits by Shenzhen Mayor Xu Qin and former Deputy Mayor Tang Jie.

The trade delegation includes: Murray, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, representatives from the Washington State China Relations Council, the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, Alaska Airlines, Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft, Vulcan, and the University of Washington.  They met with government officials and business representatives in Hong Kong and Shenzhen before Murray is joining a separate group of e-commerce companies on a trip organized by the Washington State China Relations Council to the City of Hangzhou.

For most of its history, Seattle has had deep cultural connections to China. Throughout the trip, Murray will seek to deepen those ties as he meets with local officials and business representatives.

Mayor Murray releases 20-year growth plan for Seattle

2035

Mayor Ed Murray today transmitted his proposal to update Seattle’s 20-year Comprehensive Plan to the Seattle City Council. Seattle 2035 focuses on equitable growth as Seattle expects gain 120,000 residents, 115,000 jobs, and 70,000 housing units over the next two decades.

“Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation and while this growth provides a booming economy, we must continue to focus that development in livable, walkable neighborhoods with the amenities that help people thrive,” said Murray. “With this comprehensive plan, we will build a more equitable future for all residents with better access to the affordable homes, jobs, transit, and parks that make Seattle vibrant.”

Development of Seattle 2035 has been ongoing since 2013. The final proposal was informed by thousands of comments, 57 public presentations and 2,600 people participating in public meetings.

Seattle 2035 includes goals and policies, including those that:

  • Guide more future growth to areas within a 10-minute walk of frequent transit
  • Continue the Plan’s vision for mixed-use Urban Villages and Urban Centers
  • Monitor future growth in greater detail, including data about racial disparities
  • Increase the supply and diversity of affordable housing consistent with the Mayor’s Housing Affordabibility and Livability Agenda (HALA)
  • Update how we measure the performance of the city’s transportation and parks systems
  • Integrate the City’s planning for parks, preschool, transit, housing, transportation, City facilities and services

Seattle 2035 incorporates principles of the City’s Equitable Development initiative and new policies in almost every element of the plan specifically identify ways in which the City can reduce the risk of displacement for marginalized populations and improve their access to opportunities.

The policies in the plan governing industrial lands remain relatively stable. The mayor has begun a series of conversations with industrial and maritime stakeholders to develop new supports for their industries while balancing other pressures on land use in the City.

The plan and related legislation will be introduced to the Seattle City Council’s Planning Land Use and Zoning committee, chaired by Councilmember Rob Johnson, later this month.

Seattle 2035 represents years of work by so many here at the City and also reflects the feedback of thousands of Seattle residents,” said Councilmember Johnson. “The City of Seattle has always used the Comprehensive Plan to set ambitious goals related to sustainability, and I am so glad to hear that this update reflects a similar degree of ambition to combat Seattle’s equity and affordability crisis. I look forward to seeing the final plan and bringing it before my fellow Councilmembers.”

Seattle is required by Washington State’s Growth Management Act to periodically update its Comprehensive Plan. The last major update of the plan was in 2004. Seattle 2035 is consistent with State and County growth policies.

In 1994, Seattle’s first Comprehensive Plan was approved. The 1994 Comprehensive Plan was based around an Urban Village strategy. The Urban Village strategy designated certain neighborhoods as Urban Centers or Urban Villages and encouraged the development of new housing, jobs, and transit options within these areas. Over the past 20 years, about 75 percent of new housing and jobs have located in Urban Villages or Urban Centers, consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

FAQ for New Office of Planning and Community Development

2013_Seattle_Skyline

The Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) is a new office that will support the Mayor’s vision of building thriving communities with a mix of amenities, open space, transportation, utilities, affordable housing, and economic opportunity. This new office will work across our City departments to assess community needs, prioritize resources, develop a vision for how our neighborhoods grow and develop, and ensure that we are coordinating and implementing our plans with a cohesive vision. We are excited about the work ahead. This FAQ provides further details about how the new office will improve planning coordination across the City.

FAQ for New Office of Planning and Community Development

  1. Why are we creating a new executive Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD)?

The City of Seattle is growing rapidly. By 2035, Seattle is expected to have 120,000 new residents and 115,000 new jobs. While these factors support our robust economy, some residents are concerned with how growth has affected their neighborhood character; others are concerned about displacement or traffic congestion. As a result, the Mayor recognizes that to build thriving communities with a mix of affordable housing, open space, transportation, utilities, and economic opportunity, the City must have one office that will help truly integrate planning and community development.

While the current Department of Planning and Development (DPD)—to be renamed the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI)—manages site-specific land-use planning and permits new development, current ownership of the City’s vision for comprehensive planning and implementation at the neighborhood and city level often is unclear and distributed across multiple departments. By restructuring how the City plans and then implements those plans, the intent is that City departments will be more strategically aligned to deploy resources to meet current and future needs. Our goal is to accommodate growth while maintaining a high quality of life for all and improving equity in the City.

  1. What are the key divisions of OPCD and what are examples of their work?

OPCD will be comprised of three divisions and two commissions:

  • Director’s Office
  • Research and Analysis Division
  • Planning and Implementation Division
  • Seattle Planning Commission
  • Seattle Design Commission

The Director’s Office will manage OPCD and provide leadership and support in the areas of finance, community engagement, administrative assistance, and communications with Councilmembers, staff, and constituents. The Director will be a member of the Mayor’s Cabinet.

The Research and Analysis Division will inform long-range planning activities. This division will assess best practices research, and assemble and present data on growth, equity and other issues to help guide decision-making and support the planning and investment priorities. This Division will directly inform the work of the Planning and Implementation division. Examples of their work may include:

  • Working closely with capital department liaisons to align long-range capital planning investments;
  • Coordinating with the City’s revenue team, economists, the fiscal and capital manager within CBO, Citywide GIS, and staff liaisons from capital departments to support work on equitable growth analysis and community investment strategies;
  • Establishing criteria for neighborhood priorities;
  • Developing GIS resources to monitor and track citywide capital investments; and
  • Monitoring and updating the Comprehensive Plan and tracking citywide growth and development.

The Planning and Implementation Division will develop, update and implement plans and citywide initiatives, as informed by the Research and Analysis Division. Given its focus on planning and implementation, this division will develop and implement plans, and align City investments to enhance community benefits. Examples of their work may include:

  • Leading cross-departmental efforts supported by staff liaisons from other City departments to develop community plans and citywide initiatives for implementation;
  • Coordinating with the Department of Neighborhoods on outreach and engagement;
  • Implementing key planning recommendations including the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA); and
  • Managing a capital subcabinet to align capital investments.

The Seattle Planning Commission will remain an independent body that continues to advise the Mayor, City Council and City departments on broad planning goals, policies and plans for the physical development of the City.

The Seattle Design Commission will remain an independent body that promotes civic design excellence in capital improvement projects that are located on City land, in the City right-of-way, or constructed with City funds, and will continue to advise the Mayor, City Council, and City departments on the design of capital improvements and other projects and policies that shape Seattle’s public realm.

  1. What are the biggest challenges that this new office will address for the City? How will this new office accomplish this task?

OPCD will support the Mayor’s vision of building thriving communities with a mix of amenities, open space, transportation, utilities, affordable housing, and economic opportunity. To help achieve the Mayor’s vision, there are three core challenges that this new department must address:

  1. Current ownership of the City’s vision for comprehensive planning and implementation at the neighborhood, regional, and city levels is distributed across multiple departments;
  2. Departments have identified that the lack of comprehensive information about where projects are being planned often results in project plans, implementation, and capital investments of departments being misaligned; and
  3. Departments prioritize budgets and resources differently, which can result in competing priorities and less focused use of resources.

The new department will address these core challenges by:

  • Assessing neighborhood needs, and identifying opportunity areas and priorities for neighborhood development and implementation;
  • Ensuring that department priorities are aligned with the Mayor’s priorities and the goals of the comprehensive plan;
  • Ensuring that Council priorities are also in alignment and reflected in policies, regulations and budget resources; and
  • Establishing, vetting and executing implementation plans.
  1. How is this new office different? How will it operate with other departments to ensure that Seattle will plan holistically and meet future needs?

We recognize that in the past, the City of Seattle has reorganized various departments and established new offices to coordinate and strengthen City planning services. While some past efforts helped, they were not sufficient. The current era of unprecedented growth and development only underscores the need for a truly coordinated planning office that will strategically address current and future challenges.

OPCD is a priority for the Mayor; and the team working in OPCD will have the significant task of planning comprehensively to support both current and future residents. The new office must work closely with all City departments to establish strong communication, align work plan priorities, leverage resources, and develop tangible implementation plans that address neighborhood needs. OPCD will work with other City departments to accomplish tasks that include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Assessing neighborhood assets and needs, the impacts of growth, and strategies to support more equitable development;
  • Identifying opportunities and establishing priorities for community development;
  • Focusing on implementation by identifying capital investments, strategic partnerships, assets, and equity issues that are consistent with City objectives;
  • Staffing a Capital Subcabinet to ensure that short- and long-range department plans drive capital investments and leverage city resources effectively to address community needs;
  • Collaborating with the Mayor, City Budget Office (CBO), and Council to ensure that City goals are aligned with proposed priorities and resources; and
  • Ensuring significant planning activities and development projects are reviewed to ensure alignment with community development priorities.

In addition, some examples of interdepartmental coordination work led by OPCD may include:

  • Aggregating data that defines where capital investments are planned by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), Seattle City Light (SCL), Seattle Parks and Recreation, and other capital departments to align and leverage strategic priorities;
  • Aligning area plans, Urban Design Frameworks, transportation plans, and community development strategies; and
  • Coordinating with SPU and SCL to plan for adequate infrastructure in water, sewer, drainage and power when new development occurs to ensure sufficient capacity.
  1. What parts of DPD (to be renamed to SDCI) will change? How will different components of DPD work together?

The planning functions that oversee comprehensive planning, area planning, and community development, as well as the Seattle Planning and Design Commissions, will be moved to OPCD and restructured to develop and promote integrated planning and community development. The other core regulatory functions of DPD will remain in DPD, which will be renamed to SDCI.

We also recognize the importance of the close relationship between the divisions currently in DPD. OPCD will continue to work closely with the regulatory component, as it would with all other departments to facilitate and implement comprehensive planning. For example, because the regulatory function manages the permitting process, OPCD will work closely with the regulatory side to help monitor current, future, and potential development to identify and assess capital investment needs in neighborhoods, regulatory changes that may be warranted, etc.

  1. Who are liaisons and what will be their role?

To strengthen interdepartmental coordination, staff from City departments will work with OPCD as subject matter expert “liaisons” to facilitate cross-department coordination. Such staff will remain in their home departments and will work within OPCD to ensure that OPCD has sufficient department expertise and remain coordinated with department priorities. As a result, liaisons may take on the following roles:

  • Work with OPCD planners by providing guidance and recommendations on department priorities, planning efforts, and capital projects to ensure cross-department alignment and project implementation;
  • Serve on a Capital Subcabinet led by OPCD to guide long-range planning and capital investment decisions;
  • Communicate emerging issues and priorities of their home department; and
  • Identify additional subject matter experts within their home departments when necessary.
  1. Who was involved in the creation of OPCD?

As a new office with the primary objective of strengthening coordination across all departments, it was critical to Mayor Murray that multiple departments help to shape and frame the scope and mission of OPCD. In June, Mayor Murray announced an Executive Order directing all City departments to work with the Mayor’s Office, DPD, CBO, and the Seattle Department of Human Resources (SDHR) to develop OPCD.

  1. How will this change be implemented? What is the timeline? What will be the impact on the City budget?

The legislation and budget changes to implement OPCD will be sent to City Council with the 2016 Proposed Budget at the end of September. The total proposed budget for OPCD in 2016 is $7.9 million, all supported by the General Fund. This includes $6.6 million that currently supports existing functions within DPD and $1.3 million in new resources. City Council will review and hold hearings on the proposed budget and legislation as part of their budget deliberations in October and November. The final vote on the 2016 Budget legislation package is expected in late November. All adopted changes will be effective January 1, 2016.

Mayor Murray recommends funding 22 projects to promote digital equity

Mayor Ed Murray today transmitted legislation recommending 22 recipients of the City’s 2015 Technology Matching Fund for projects that will assist more than 14,900 residents in need and help to further the City’s digital equity goals. Once approved by the Seattle City Council, a total of $470,000 will be distributed to community organizations throughout the city. The Council will discuss these recommendations on Wednesday, July 15.

“These funds play an important role in leveling the playing field in our city by helping our most vulnerable residents access technology,” said Murray. “Technology skills are necessary for success in the 21st century and these funds play a critical role in teaching and preparing our residents.”

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 Community Technology Advisory Board from 64 applicants and will contribute more than $1 million in projected community matching resources, more than double the City’s investment.

The recommended projects will connect populations that have limited access to technology, empower residents with digital literacy skills, and build capacity for diverse communities to use technology for civic participation. Half of this year’s recipients are new provider organizations, while the other projects build on infrastructure and knowledge at prior provider sites. Ten projects will provide technology training for youth through Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and digital media programs. The projects will serve more than 1,350 immigrants and refugees.

The recommended 2015 Technology Matching Fund award recipients include:

  • Barton Place Computer Lab
  • Big-Brained Superheroes Club
  • Coalition for Refugees from Burma
  • Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association
  • Denny Terrace Computer Lab
  • East African Community Services
  • Full Life Care
  • Georgetown Community Council
  • Jefferson Terrace Computer Lab
  • Kin On Community Health Care
  • Lazarus Day Center
  • Literacy Source
  • Millionair Club Charity
  • Neighborhood House
  • Sand Point Arts and Cultural Exchange
  • Smilow Rainier Vista Clubhouse & Teen Center of Boys & Girls Clubs of King County
  • Sound Child Care Solutions
  • SouthEast Effective Development
  • The Seattle Globalist
  • Voices of Tomorrow
  • Washington Middle School PTSA
  • Xbot Robotics

For more information and a map of Technology Matching Fund awardees visit  http://www.seattle.gov/tech/TMF/2015.

Mayor Murray announces conversion to metric system

Today Mayor Ed Murray announced that the City of Seattle will be the first major American city to convert entirely to the metric system.

“Seattle is a global city and it’s time we catch-up with the rest of the world in adopting the metric system,” said Murray. “We’ve proven cities can be incubators for change, so it just makes sense for Seattle to lead on the metric system as well.  As we seek to attract more international business and visitors, adopting a universally recognized system of measurement is key.”

“I have ordered all City departments to review their operations and provide a metric conversion plan in 30 days.  As a first step, I’ve directed the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to print and install all speed limit signs in kilometers,” said Murray. “We are also in the early stages of planning with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to have the speed limit signs on I-5 through Seattle converted to kilometers.”

Additional changes to be rolled out immediately include:

 

  • All cars sold within city limits will be required to replace the speedometer with a kilometer gauge.
  • Seattle Public Schools will expand their teaching of the metric system in Fall 2015, ensuring that students are able to put their best meter forward and strengthen their understanding of the other side of the ruler.
  • The Seattle Parks Department will change all wildlife information kiosks to refer to inchworms as centipedes.
  • Heat advisories will be issued when the temperature reaches 26.66 degrees Celsius.
  • Precipitation will be measured by the millimeter to ensure accuracy.
  • Gas prices will be listed by the 3.78 liter.
  • All stadium vendors and food stands selling hot dogs will be encouraged to market their 30.48 centimeter-long hot dogs.
  • Beth’s Café’s 12-egg omelette will remain unchanged, as there is no way of converting egg quantity measurements.

Update 10:30 AM on April 1:  Despite Mayor Ed Murray’s liter-ship, Seattle will not be converting to the metric system. April Fools! (Sorry Canadians and scientists.) However, those wishing to refer to inchworms as centipedes are free to do so.

 

Seattle Center visitors now enjoy fast, free Wi-Fi

Mayor Murray today unveiled a new free Wi-Fi service at Seattle Center. The service, which serves tens of thousands of people simultaneously, was developed in partnership with Microsoft.

“This is another step forward in our work to seek out public-private partnerships to improve Internet access in Seattle,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “More than 12 million people visit Seattle Center each year, and now they will enjoy fast, free broadband on their devices. This pilot program tests new technology that we may be able to deploy to other neighborhoods in the city.”

Seattle Center is offering two Bumbershoot passes to a user chosen at random who shares how they will use the faster service on the Seattle Center Twitter feed.

“The most obvious advantages of this technology are speed and performance,” said Dayne Sampson, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Engineering. “What will be exciting for those attending big events such as Bumbershoot is that this technology can handle more than 25,000 users at a time. That’s a distinct difference from the free Wi-Fi often found in public places.”

Previous Wi-Fi network speeds at Seattle Center supported email and basic web browsing, but bogged down when too many people used the system at the same time. The new system enables users to browse at speeds more than 5,000 times faster than the old system, enabling visitors to make Skype calls, back-up photos, and connect with events and vendors at Seattle Center. Microsoft brought in a digital fiber line capable of transmitting multiple gigabits per second.

“At Seattle Center, our purpose is to delight and inspire the human spirit, and this remarkable new Wi-Fi system will definitely serve to enrich the visitor experience,” said Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams.

The service has a new landing page with tips about how to enjoy Seattle Center and the city. Users can download a Microsoft Wi-Fi app that allows regular visitors to automatically connect to the platform at the highest possible speed.

“The new technology places Seattle at the forefront of fast, convenient, and accessible public broadband. We are grateful for Microsoft’s efforts to pilot the technology in Seattle,” said Michael Mattmiller, Seattle’s Chief Technology Officer.

In August, Mayor Murray announced his three-point plan for more and better broadband service in Seattle:

Learn more about the new Wi-Fi at Seattle Center at www.seattlecenter.com/microsoftwifi.

 

Mayor, officials weigh in on historic FCC votes

Today, after the FCC voted in favor of net neutrality and municipal broadband choices, Mayor Ed Murray, Councilmember Bruce Harrell and Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller issued the following statements:

“I applaud the FCC for passing the strongest net neutrality rules in Internet history, a vital decision for not only entrepreneurs, but for the future of our democracy. High-quality, high-speed Internet is essential to an open society and I thank the FCC for allowing municipalities to make local choices about how to increase competition for high-speed Internet that is appropriate for their cities.”
— Mayor Ed Murray

“This is a historic moment in preserving and protecting our right to a fast, inclusive and open Internet. The Internet is now a necessity, giving everyone a voice, access to education, and opportunity in our economy. Today’s ruling ensures a tech startup or a small business are able to compete on equal footing with larger companies by prohibiting paid prioritization and throttling of content and services.”
— Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee

“Although the decision of the FCC directly affects Tennessee and North Carolina, it sends a resounding message nationally that local choice is vital for next-generation Internet adoption. Local government knows the needs of our residents and businesses best and local officials are directly accountable to their constituents, which is why this decision is so important. It’s critical for communities to have the ability to choose the best way to provide high-quality Internet for its public. Competition benefits all members in a community and similar to any other market, high-speed broadband Internet is frequently better and cheaper when communities have choices about how that Internet service is provided. The City of Seattle commissioned a study in November to explore creation of a municipal broadband internet utility in Seattle. We look forward to receiving the results of this study in April.”
— Michael Mattmiller, Seattle’s Chief Technology Officer