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Business broadband survey

UPDATE: The date has been extended! The new deadline is March 31.

The City of Seattle is looking for broadband input from Seattle businesses.

TakeOurSurvey This survey asks about your current broadband services and whether they meet your needs; your satisfaction with the services that are currently available to business owners in Seattle; and what you believe the City’s role should be in bringing high-speed connectivity to residents and businesses in Seattle. The survey should take approximately 10 minutes to complete. The survey will close on March 31.

A residential internet, cable TV and telephone services paper survey was mailed to 3,770 households in January. Results from the residential and business surveys will be compiled and included in the City’s Broadband study, set to be completed in April.

Questions?

If you have any questions please contact the City of Seattle’s Office of Cable Communications at 206-684-8498.

 

AVOIDING ONLINE TAX SCAMS

It’s tax season, which means it’s also time for tax scams, with numerous online scams that attempt to steal people’s tax refunds, bank accounts, or identities. Last year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimates it paid $5.2 billion in fraudulent identity theft refunds in filing season 2013.[1] Websense Security Labs reported in 2014 it saw approximately 100,000 IRS-related scams in circulation every two weeks.[2]

This year, we need to be especially careful in light of the Anthem Breach, in which data from approximately 80 million customers was exposed, triggering new phishing attacks offering false claims of credit monitoring services.

Users who have already filed their taxes this season can still be vulnerable to tax-related scams. Many schemes take advantage of users by alleging to have information about the filer’s refund, or noting a problem with the return that was previously filed.

One scam that has already been impacting users this season involves phishing emails claiming to be from Intuit’s TurboTax. The emails prompt users to click on links to verify their identity or update their accounts in an attempt to download malware to the victim’s machine, or steal data such as Social Security numbers or financial information.

Below are some of the most common email scams users should be cautious about:

  • The email says the user is owed a refund and should forward a bank account number where the refund may be deposited. Once the scammer has the bank account information, that account will see a big withdrawal, not a deposit.

 

  • The email contains exciting offers or refunds for participating in an “IRS Survey.” This fake survey is actually used to acquire information to perform identity theft.

 

  • The email threatens the user with fines or jail time for not making an immediate payment, or responding to the email.

 

  • The email includes a “helpful” downloadable document (e.g. “new changes in the tax law,” a tax calculator, etc.). In reality, the download is a malicious file intended to infect your computer.

 

 

How To Avoid Becoming A Tax-Scam Victim

 

  • Do not respond to emails appearing to be from the IRS.  The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through email or social media to request personal or financial information. If you receive an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, send it to phishing@irs.gov.

 

  • Do not respond to unsolicited emails and do not provide sensitive information via email. If the email appears to be from your employer, bank, broker, etc., contact the entity directly. Do not open any attachments or click on links contained in unsolicited or suspicious emails.

 

  • Carefully select the tax sites you visit. Use caution when searching online for tax forms, advice on deductibles, tax preparers, and other similar topics. Do not visit a site by clicking on a link sent in an email, found on someone’s blog, or in an advertisement. The website you land on may look just like the real site, but it may be a well-crafted fake.

 

  • Secure your computer.  Make sure your computer has all operating system and application software updates. Anti-virus and anti-spyware software should be installed, running, and receiving automatic updates. Ensure you use a strong password and different passwords for each account.



 

Resources

 IRS 2015 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams: www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Completes-the-Dirty-Dozen-Tax-Scams-for-2015

What to Do if Your Identity is Stolen- FTC Guidebook:   http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-0009-taking-charge_0.pdf

Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theftwww.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Guide-to-IdentityTheft

Tax Scams/Consumer Alertswww.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Scams-Consumer-Alerts

Report Phishingwww.irs.gov/uac/Report-Phishing

[1] http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-633

[2] http://money.cnn.com/2014/03/18/smallbusiness/tax-cyberscams/


 

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,” Mayor Ed Murray said. “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.”

“This is a historic moment in preserving and protecting our right to a fast, inclusive and open Internet,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee. “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.”

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,” said Michael Mattmiller, Seattle’s Chief Technology Officer. “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.”

Technology Matching Fund

The Technology Matching Fund provides
awards of up to $30,000 in matching funds to community projects which increase technology literacy, provide access to computers, the Internet, and other information technologies; and increase civic participation in the use of technology.  Workshops are being held February 10, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. at 2100 Building, 2100 24th Ave S., Seattle, 98144; and on February 12, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. at Solid Ground, 1501 N. 45th St., Seattle, 98103.

Due date: March 19

Technology Matching Funds available: deadline March 19

Community organizations and nonprofits are invited to apply for nearly $500,000 in funding to increase digital equity.  The Technology Matching Fund awards are matched by the community’s contribution of volunteer labor, materials, professional services or funding.

“As a CApply nowity, Seattle is known for technology and innovation, yet too many residents do not have sufficient Internet access or the skills necessary to participate fully in today’s economy,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “This funding leverages the resources of the community by matching time and funding.”

The Technology Matching Fund has been in existence since 1997 and this year the City has $470,000 available for matching awards of up to $30,000 each to community groups and nonprofits. The deadline to apply is March 19, 2015.

The funding will be awarded in July to organizations who will improve digital equity by connecting traditionally-underserved populations, empower residents with digital literacy skills, and encourage diverse communities to use technology for civic participation.

Application materials and more information are available at www.seattle.gov/tech/tmf/.

Two workshops will be held for those interested in applying for the matching funds. The free workshops will provide an overview of the grant program, explain how to apply and detail characteristics of a successful application. First time applicants are encouraged to attend.

Tuesday, February 10, 10:00 – 11:30 AM
2100 Building, 2100 24th Ave South, 98144

Thursday, February 12, 6:00 – 7:30 PM
Solid Ground, 1501 N 45th St, 98103

Interpretation and accommodations are available upon request by calling 206-233-7877 or emailing communitytechnology@seattle.gov by February 6.

$470,000 in matching funds offered for technology projects

The City of Seattle invites community organizations and nonprofits to apply for nearly $500,000 in funding to increase digital equity. The Technology Matching Fund awards are matched by the community’s contribution of volunteer labor, materials, professional services or funding.

“As a city, Seattle is known for technology and innovation, yet too many residents do not have sufficient internet access or the skills necessary to participate fully in today’s economy,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “This funding leverages the resources of the community by matching time and funding.”

The Technology Matching Fund has been in existence since 1997 and this year the City has $470,000 available for matching awards of up to $30,000 each to community groups and nonprofits. The deadline to apply is March 19, 2015.

The funding will be awarded in July to organizations who will improve digital equity by connecting traditionally-underserved populations, empower residents with digital literacy skills, and encourage diverse communities to use technology for civic participation.

Application materials and more information are available at www.seattle.gov/tech/tmf/.

Two workshops will be held for those interested in applying for the matching funds. The free workshops will provide an overview of the grant program, explain how to apply and detail characteristics of a successful application. First time applicants are encouraged to attend.

Tuesday, Feb. 10: 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
2100 Building, 2100 24th Ave South, 98144

Thursday, Feb. 12: 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Solid Ground, 1501 N. 45th St, 98103

Interpretation and accommodations are available upon request by calling 206-233-2751 or emailing communitytechnology@seattle.gov by February 6.

City of Seattle supports assistive technology lab, empowers older adults

IMG_2188 Older adults with low vision reconnect with their independence in a new assistive technology learning lab funded by the City of Seattle’s Technology Matching Fund. Low vision caused by age-related eye diseases compromises the ability of older adults to continue activities of daily life, self-care, and even social interaction. One nonprofit, Sight Connection, enhances the ability of individuals with vision loss to lead active independent lives. The Technology Matching Fund provided Sight Connection with a wide selection of assistive technology devices for lab participants to experiment with for their personal goals. Over 440 low vision lab participants discovered assistive technology devices help them read, write, communicate and search online, and accomplish other tasks linked to independence. At age seventy and living with macular degeneration, Barbara Reedal found an electronic magnifier and an iPad could help her write cards to loved ones, send emails, and read paperwork to become a kitten foster mother. She claims, “Things started looking better as soon as I became aware of everything available. My next goal is to use a smart phone and I know I can try it at Sight Connection.” Through the Technology Matching Fund, older adults are living life with low vision on their terms and giving back to their community. Visit sightconnection.org to learn more about Sight Connection and the assistive technology learning lab.

Reshaping immigration, embracing technology in government at Civic Cocktail, Dec. 3

Rich Stolz of OneAmerica and tech executive Kurt DelBene among featured guests

SEATTLE –President Obama’s executive action to reform the nation’s immigration system and a discussion about the intersection of government and technology are the topics of conversation at Civic Cocktail, 5:30 p.m., Wed., Dec. 3, at the Palace Ballroom, 2100 Fifth Ave.

Obama’s plans to offer deportation relief and work permits to 5 million immigrants who are in the country illegally has set up a clash with Republicans who vow to fight his sweeping actions.

Washington state is home to an estimated 73,000 undocumented immigrants who are living in the country illegally and have a U.S. citizen child, according to OneAmerica, a Seattle-based immigrant rights advocacy organization.

Rich Stolz, executive director of OneAmerica, will join host Joni Balter for an in-depth discussion about the president’s immigration policy changes. How will the immigration orders be carried out locally and what impacts will they have? Will they lead to comprehensive immigration reform or will the projected political fallout further derail the debate?

The second half of the show will shift to a panel conversation on using technology to improve government’s interaction with the public. What happens when government and technology collide? Can government maintain the public trust while embracing new technologies to use data more effectively?

The panel discussion will feature Kurt DelBene, former manager of HealthCare.gov, and Michael Mattmiller, the city of Seattle’s new chief technology officer. DelBene is a former Microsoft executive who last year was tapped by the Obama Administration to help fix HealthCare.gov, the federal government’s online health insurance enrollment system. He recently joined the Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group, which focuses on funding early-stage technology companies primarily in the Northwest.

Mattmiller, who previously worked as a senior strategist for enterprise cloud privacy at Microsoft, leads the city of Seattle’s Department of Information and Technology. He’s heading the city’s new privacy initiative intended to show the public how the city collects and uses data.

A journalist panel will weigh in on the immigration and technology topics.

Civic Cocktail offers an evening of networking, civic conversation, Tom Douglas appetizers and a no-host bar. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. The program begins at 6 p.m. Advance registration is recommended as these events sometimes sell out. Register at SeattleCityClub.org or call 206-682-7395. Advance ticket prices are $10 for CityClub and Crosscut members and $12 for non-members. Limited $15 tickets available at the door.

Seattle Channel presents Civic Cocktail in partnership with Seattle CityClub and Crosscut. The conversation is rebroadcast on Seattle Channel cable 21 and is available online at seattlechannel.org/civiccocktail.

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.

Awareness & Recovery Institute shares their journalism successes

Recovery through Journalism has received wide support among the East African Community in Seattle. Under the newly established nonprofit called “Awareness and Recovery Institute (ARI)”, the project trained eight East African youth, the majority of whom are Somalis. During the training, the youth participated in reading, writing, computer aided reporting, and photography workshops. Soon after the training, the youth started practicing what they had learned; they are now providing photographs and some short writing to the East African newspaper, Runta.

The goals of the project were to: 1).Prevent young East Africans from involvement in unlawful and destructive behavior by providing them with useful, positive, and constructive skills, especially in civic engagement and technical aspects of media; 2) Provide a community structure of ongoing support and opportunity enabling youth to contribute meaningfully in an increasingly technological society; and 3) Provide a useful community role for youth who, due to war trauma, broken families, and street violence are at risk for destructive behaviors, thus improving their sense of hope and setting them on paths towards technically competent careers in community organizations and media.

Thanks to the City of Seattle’s Technology Matching Fund which funded this civic engagement project, students had the opportunity to visit many places including the Seattle Times, University of Washington, sports events, community events, and many more.  For more information about Awareness & Recovery Institute, please visit their website at: http://www.runtanews.com/category/youth/. — Submitted by Mohamud Yussuf, executive director.

Center for Digital Government names 2014 Digital Cities Survey winners

Re-posted from the Center for Digital Government:

Center for Digital Government Names 2014 Digital Cities Survey Winners
Cities with Best Practices in Public Sector Information and Communications Technology Honored

DIgCit_Wnr14_RGBe.Republic’s Center for Digital Government (The Center) today announced the top-ranked cities in the 2014 Digital Cities Survey.

In its 14th year, the annual survey is part of the Center’s Digital Communities Program, which focuses on collaboration among cities, counties and regions. Open to all U.S. cities, this year’s survey questions targeted which initiatives cities were most proud of in the areas of citizen engagement, policy, operations, and technology and data.

The top-ranked cities in their population categories – Los Angeles; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Avondale, Ariz.; and Dublin, Ohio – provided financial transparency, city performance measurement dashboards, and citizen feedback on city initiatives. They also made improvements in their infrastructure, open-data architecture, security levels and collaboration efforts, providing cost savings and enhanced services. Learn more about their accomplishments here.

“This year’s Digital Cities’ winners brought about impressive change across all aspects of government by leveraging information technology investments to expand open government, citizen participation and shared services,” said Todd Sander, Executive Director of the Center for Digital Government. “Winning cities spanned the nation, indicating a trend that more and more cities are making it a priority that digital government be easier to access, navigate and interact with.”

The top 10 ranked cities will be honored at a special awards ceremony during the National League of Cities’ annual conference in Austin on November 20th.

The Center for Digital Government thanks this year’s survey underwriters: AT&T, Laserfiche, McAfee and Sprint.

Congratulations to the 2014 Digital Cities Survey Winners:

250,000 or more population:

  • 1st City of Los Angeles, CA
  • 2nd City of Kansas City, MO
  • 2nd City of Seattle, WA
  • 3rd City of Jacksonville, FL
  • 3rd Louisville Metro Government, KY
  • 4th City of Philadelphia, PA

For more information, visit http://www.digitalcommunities.com/survey/cities/?year=2014.

The specific Seattle blurb is found in Government Technology magazine:

Seattle has a full slate of initiatives under way intended to strengthen government operations and engage citizens. Internally, the city is centralizing technology services, which includes consolidating multiple data centers and developing coordinated IT policies. The mayor’s IT Subcommittee – comprising the deputy mayor, city CTO and six city department heads – was creating in July to oversee the effort. Externally, Seattle makes extensive use of interactive technology like social media – through Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr – and mapping of crime statistics to build closer bonds between residents and its police force. A Citizens Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Committee makes recommendations to the mayor and city council on issues like community connectivity, e-government services and access to technology. Seattle also has multiple programs to promote technology use throughout the city, including a Technology Matching Fund that provides matching grants as large as $20,000 for community technology projects.