SCSS upgrades lab with Tech Matching Fund

Somali
Kudos to 23 community organizations who successfully completed Technology Matching Fund projects in 2015.  These projects achieved greater digital inclusion for over 4,100 residents in Seattle left behind by the digital divide.

One grantee, Somali Community Services of Seattle (SCSS), received a $9,000 award to upgrade their aging computer lab.   Computers almost a decade old made way for eleven new desktop computers.  The lab has since been used weekly to teach more than 215 youth, adults and seniors a variety of technology skills.  Classes are typically held twice a week for one hour by instructors versed in office computer skills.

Senior immigrants have especially benefited from these classes, because many had not been exposed to computers prior to arriving in the United States. The skills they learned in computer classes helped them write emails and letters to families and friends abroad. Some seniors even expressed a desire to teach these skills to youth as they learn and grow.   Somali businessmen and businesswomen also used the lab for crucial business tasks like creating budgets and flyers.

Executive Director Sahra Farah emphasized the value of City support for community-based organizations like hers.  “These funds help us fulfill our mission of assisting Somali refugee families and community members to achieve self-sustainable status in the communities they live in.  Because computer skills are such vital skills to have in the 21st century, these resources are irreplaceable in helping Somali community members stay relevant, and productive.”

National Award for Technology Matching Fund Grants

digitalinclustion2Seattle’s Community Technology Program has been honored by The National League of Cities, Next Century Cities, and Google Fiber with one of their inaugural Digital Inclusion Leadership awards.

The award recognizes the City’s Technology Matching Fund grant program as a leading best practice in fostering digital inclusion. Winners were chosen on the basis of a program’s ability to provide training, access, and hardware to a diverse range of participants, at low cost, with proven results and community engagement. The awards were established to celebrate the cities that are leading programs or empowering community-based organizations to tackle barriers to Internet adoption, and to encourage leaders in the public sector to get involved in digital inclusion by sharing best practices.

Over the past 18 years, the Technology Matching Fund program has enabled 153 community organizations to build their capacity to provide technology and internet access, digital skills training, and electronic civic engagement. The majority of City funding for the program has been allocated from cable franchise fees, and has reinvested over $3.9 million in community based projects. The City’s 2015 Technology Matching Fund projects, selected in July 2015, will collectively receive $470,000, enabling increased digital equity for more than 14,900 residents. Fund recipients are recommended by the City’s Community Technology Advisory Board and approved by the Mayor and City Council. The program has served as a model for other cities.

“This program is part of our ongoing commitment to ensure all Seattle residents can participate in our increasingly digital society,” said Michael Mattmiller, City of Seattle Chief Technology Officer. “This award is the result of strong commitment and partnerships for digital equity between our community organizations, Mayor Ed Murray, City Council, Community Technology Advisory Board, Department of Information Technology and the many volunteers and supporters working to help bring digital inclusion to all residents.”

The award was presented to the City of Seattle’s Department of Information Technology’s Community Technology Program on Thursday, November 5, at the National League of Cities’ Congress of Cities event in Nashville, Tennessee.

For more information on the Technology Matching Fund and the Community Technology Program in the Department of Information Technology, visit http://www.seattle.gov/tech/TMF.

Video Voters’ Guide for the General Election Launches

The Seattle Channel's non-partisan video voter's guide.

The Seattle Channel’s non-partisan video voter’s guide.

We told you about the Seattle and King County Video Voters’ Guide for the primary election last July. Now we’re approaching the general election.

– Want a transparent look at the candidates and issues on the Nov. 3 general-election ballot? With the launch of the 2015 general-election Video Voters’ Guide, voters can hear directly from the candidates for various offices as well as learn about city of Seattle and King County ballot measures.

The non-partisan video guide offers candidates on the ballot up to two minutes to issue a prepared statement that outlines the key planks of their platform. Proponents and opponents of ballot measures also issue short statements. The segments are unedited and published online and broadcast on local television. In all, the guide features 42 video statements, which are captioned for increased accessibility.

The Video Voters’ Guide is available on Seattle Channel’s website at www.seattlechannel.org/elections. For easy reference, the video statements are organized by race and ballot measure. City and county versions of the Video Voters’ Guide are also airing on Seattle Channel cable channel 21 and King County TV cable channel 22.

“The Video Voters’ Guide is a unique and valuable public resource. It allows voters to hear directly from the candidates and weigh statements on ballot measures,” said John Giamberso, Seattle Channel’s general manager. “Working with our partners, we’re pleased to provide this comprehensive guide which offers another vantage point for voters. The guide brings to life the candidates and the issues in a convenient format.”

The Video Voters’ Guide features candidates who will appear on the ballot for Seattle City Council and Seattle School Board. New this year, seven City Council members will be elected by district, with two others elected citywide. The guide also features candidates for seats on the Port of Seattle Commission, Metropolitan King County Council, director of the King County Department of Elections and King County Assessor.

The guide also features pro and con statements for several city and county ballot measures: the city’s Proposition 1 property-tax request, known as the Move Seattle transportation levy; Initiative 122, which would make changes to the way city elections are funded; a county levy to fund early-childhood programs, known as the Best Start for Kids levy; and King County Charter Amendment No. 1, which would strengthen the role of the county’s civilian Office of Law Enforcement Oversight.

Primary ballots must be postmarked or returned to a ballot drop box by 8 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 3.

The Video Voters’ Guide is a project of Seattle Channel, Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission and King County TV.

Seattle Channel is a local TV station that reflects, informs and inspires the community it serves. Seattle Channel presents programs on cable television – channel 21 on Comcast (321 HD) and Wave (721 HD) – and via the Internet to help residents connect with their city. Programming includes series and special features highlighting the diverse civic and cultural landscape of the Pacific Northwest’s premier city.

Seattle Is Rolling Out Its Innovative Privacy Program

The City of Seattle continues to lead the nation in protecting citizens’ privacy.  Last fall, the Mayor and City Council launched the City’s new Privacy Initiative.  In February 2015, Seattle’s Privacy Principle’s were announced.

privacytoolkitThe next phase, the toolkit for Seattle’s Privacy Initiative, is now being implemented.  The toolkit will guide City departments on how to incorporate these principles into daily operations.

“Seattle is leading the nation to implement a comprehensive privacy program across all City departments,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “Our privacy principles are designed to protect individual privacy while still providing government transparency.”

The Privacy Toolkit will provide guidelines for how each department will implement a privacy assessment. Departments will also identify a privacy champion who will work with a privacy manager at the Department of Information Technology.

“This is a game changer in how we operate and do business to ensure we uphold the highest standard for your privacy,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee. “We have come up with the right balance of transparency, accountability and flexibility.”

The privacy principles and the toolkit were created by an interdepartmental team comprised of more than 10 departments and an external Privacy Advisory Committee comprised of community members and privacy experts from private industry, law firms, privacy advocates and academia. The mayor’s budget for 2016 includes funding for a Chief Privacy Officer for the City who will be charged with implementing the principles.

“This is the first time any city in the country has taken steps to protect the public’s private information whenever possible,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “This groundbreaking toolkit will help city employees think proactively about potential privacy implications with regards to any data or personal information we collect in the course of regular City business or when evaluating a new policy or program,”

In November 2014, the City launched its Privacy Initiative, led by the Seattle Police Department and Department of Information Technology. The initiative defined how the City collects, uses, and disposes of data in a manner that balances the needs of the City to conduct its business with individual privacy. For more information on the City’s Privacy Initiative, visit http://www.seattle.gov/information-technology/initiatives/privacy-initiative

Seattle is one of the first cities in the nation to establish its own privacy principles to protect personal information. City partners and vendors are instructed to follow the same guidelines.

 

From Data to Action: Open Data and You

SPLlogo“Open Data” is one of the most popular phrases in technology right now, but what exactly does it mean? More importantly, how can you use it to make a positive impact on your life and society? It’s not as intimidating as it sounds. Learn more at an event on Tuesday October 13 at the Seattle Public Library’s central location in downtown Seattle.

Join us as our panelists introduce you to data that is open and available, and how to make it work for your project. They will discuss:

  • resources for open data on a range of topics, with a special focus on data.seattle.gov
  • ways to combine data sets and make maps
  • best ways to learn about data if you are starting out on a project
  • examples of the creative ways people have used open data

Bring your questions, data-related or otherwise!

Panelists:

  • Ryan Biava, ‎Senior Policy Advisor, Mayor’s Office of Policy & Innovation
  • Abe Diaz, Mobile Program Manager at NBC-Universal, Inc. and Independent Developer
  • Amy Laurent, Assessment, Policy Development and Evaluation Unit, Public Health, Seattle & King County
  • Domonique Meeks, Masters of Science Information Management graduate student at the University of Washington and the co-organizer of Hack The CD
  • Jenny Muilenburg, Data Curriculum and Communications Librarian, University of Washington Libraries Research Commons

Facilitator:

  • Jim Loter, Director, Information Technology, The Seattle Public Library

Tuesday, October 13 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

It’s free, but space is limited. For more information,  call the Central Library 206-386-4636 or Ask a Librarian

Hundreds of Youth Bridge the Digital Divide

NS_computer classThis fall, hundreds of kids from North Seattle are returning to school empowered with new computer knowledge.

In the 2014 round of Tech Matching Grants (TMF), North Seattle Boys & Girls Club (NSBGC) was awarded $20,000 to create 23 computer work stations, now providing free computer access and education to hundreds of youth. Volunteers and staff monitor the labs, offer technology classes and partner with community organizations to offer additional programs.

Since the computers’ arrival last fall, the equipment has been in almost continual use. During the school year, homework takes priority for computer use as more than 100 youth come to the Club each afternoon. Various age groups cycle through the computer labs for designated homework time, with staff and volunteers available to help complete assignments. Each evening, technology education classes engage kids in activities like writing newsletters and designing projects.

Having the computer labs on-site also allows several special projects. Teens used the computers to research electric airplanes, create a blog about their community service projects, and learn about resume building. Younger kids used the computers to experiment with robotics, create newsletters and design graphic projects.

This summer, the North Seattle Club was selected to pilot a new Google CS First (Computer Science) curriculum. Led by AmeriCorps VISTA staff, youth as young as 4th grade experimented with writing code. This fall, North Seattle will continue the program with Club staff and volunteers teaching the class.

“Our computer labs are a springboard for so many programs and opportunities,” says Joan Caldon, Club Executive Director for NSBGC and STEM committee member for Boys & Girls Clubs of King County. “Strong technology skills open doors for our Club kids, and will likely provide a way out of poverty for many.”