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 This proposed legislation to supersede an outdated rule is long overdue.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 http://www.seattle.gov/tech/TMF/2014.

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, Seattle.gov 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.

DoITPlan

DoIT Plan
Three key objectives and supporting actions

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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

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“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.

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“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.

City of Seattle expands Find It, Fix It mobile app to include reporting of streetlight outages and illegal dumping

Find It, Fix ItThe City of Seattle has announced the addition of two new service request types to the Find It, Fix It app, which offers smartphone users an easy way to report issues such as potholes, graffiti, and abandoned vehicles. With the latest update, app users can now report illegal dumping on public property and damaged streetlights.

The Find It, Fix It app is a scaled-down version of the city’s online service request system and includes geographic awareness to give users a convenient way to alert the City to issues and provides location information that helps City staff respond quickly. To report an issue, users simply snap a photo, add detailed information and hit submit.

“The City is committed to finding efficient and effective ways to serve our customers,” said Murray. “Find It, Fix It takes advantage of ever-evolving technology to offer an easy and practical way for the public to connect with the city and notify us of potential issues.”

The app, available for iPhones and Android phones, originally launched in August 2013 and has been downloaded to 6,350 mobile devices since that time. Users have submitted nearly 6,400 requests through the app.

 

Murray: ‘Seattle must be a national leader in identifying innovative ways to make high speed internet available and affordable to anyone’

Mayor Murray released this statement today on the need for more reliable high speed internet for all in Seattle:

Finding a job, getting a competitive education, participating in our democracy, or even going to work for some, requires high speed internet access. I have seen people say online, “I don’t need a road to get to work, I need high speed internet.” Seattle would never leave the construction of roads up to a private monopoly, nor should we allow the City’s internet access to be constructed and managed by a private monopoly.

It is incredibly clear to me and  residents throughout the City of Seattle, that the City’s current high speed internet options are not dependable enough, are cost prohibitive for many, and have few (if any) competitive options.

As the internet becomes more and more important to everyday life, I believe Seattle must be a national leader in identifying innovative ways to make high speed internet available and affordable to anyone who wants it.

Seattle needs a high speed internet infrastructure that meets the demands of our high tech industry and which allows our citizens to innovate without worrying about whether their connection will suddenly drop because their service provider has decided to throttle a service they depend on. We need an internet that does not censor communication, but fosters access to the content citizens depend on for information or civic engagement. We need a service provider that can do all of this with strict privacy controls so that free speech is encouraged, not stifled. In short, we need a high speed internet option that rivals any in the country.

My office is actively engaged in finding a path forward. We certainly need some short term options to bring a functional internet to neighborhoods that have almost no connectivity, and we’re looking at ways to bring service to those neighborhoods as soon as possible. We are looking at a number of policy changes and their impacts that could foster greater competition right now, like testing small neighborhood pilot programs, building off existing fiber, or increasing WiFi access.

We are also considering changes to the SDOT “director’s rule” which makes it nearly impossible for internet providers to expand existing services without an unusually high super majority of support from neighbors. Few other cities in the country demand this kind of approval system, which is in part why service providers are investing in those cities and not here in Seattle. If we determine that changing the “director’s rule” helps achieve our goal of increasing internet speeds and making Seattle a more competitive market for internet providers, my office would then explore developing a more efficient process for community input around how and when utility cabinets are placed in our neighborhoods.

Another possible solution includes granting internet companies access to utility poles at little or no charge, so that building more infrastructure is not cost prohibitive. As Susan Crawford highlighted in her Special to the Seattle Times, we need to find ways to expand our dark fiber network so every building in the City is connected. We need to ensure that this network stays under the City’s control while exploring ways to rent it at a low cost to service providers. But if we make changes that lower the costs for businesses, these changes would need to come paired with significant improvements in services. I will not be satisfied if these changes simply bring marginal improvements for customers and higher profits for corporations.

While we increase competition by breaking down barriers and enhancing infrastructure, we also need to consider the option of building a city-wide municipal high speed internet system that meets the demands of this thriving technology hub. We may learn that the only way we can truly have the internet system this City needs, is by building it ourselves. If we find that building our own municipal broadband is the best way forward for our citizens and for our City, then I will help lead the way.

It is shocking to me that the United States invented the internet, but we have one of the biggest digital divides in the developed world, and are falling far behind other nations who have speeds much greater than ours. We need to find a path forward as quickly and efficiently as possible before we fall even further behind. Our economy depends on it. Our democracy depends on it.

I look forward to appointing a permanent Chief Technology Officer in the near future and working with him or her to secure Seattle’s position as a leader in technology once again.

Mayor Murray, Councilmember Harrell comment on the resignation of Chief Technology Officer Erin Devoto

Erin DevotoMayor Murray and Councilmember Bruce Harrell offered the following statement on the resignation of Chief Technology Officer Erin Devoto:

“I want to thank Erin Devoto for her work for the City of Seattle over the past 13 years, while at the Parks Department and then the Information Technology department. As the Chief Technology Officer, Erin led the Department of Information Technology and several city-wide technological initiatives, including leasing of the City’s excess dark fiber, migration of all employees to a new email archiving system, creation of a new model for public access television channels, and has laid the groundwork for the efficiencies we’re anticipating with implementation of Microsoft Office 365 in the cloud and consolidation of the City’s data center,” said Mayor Murray.

“Erin was results oriented, leaving behind a successful legacy of building regional partnerships, moving the city towards cloud computing, and implementing city projects to improve customer service and saving the city money,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee.

The Mayor’s office expects to name an interim Director of the Department of Information Technology in the coming weeks, while conducting a more in-depth search for the Chief Technology Officer appointment. This position must be confirmed through the Council’s confirmation process.

The Chief Technology Officer reports to the Mayor and has management oversight of nearly 200 employees and an annual operating budget of more than $79 million.