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Report looks at how Seattleites use technology and barriers

high-speed-internet-chartDid you know Seattle residents now have more laptops than desktop computers? Or that those with less education tend to make less use of the Internet?

The City of Seattle has just released new findings on technology access, adoption, social media use and civic participation by Seattle residents. These are available at seattle.gov/tech/indicators with key findings available in multiple languages.
A video presentation and discussion is also available to view.

“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 findings are based on feedback from 2,600 residents via online and phone surveys and in-person focus groups with immigrant, disabled and African American communities, to ensure the City heard from those who are often under-represented in surveys or are historically technologically-underserved.
The continued rise of smart phone and tablet use provides outstanding opportunities for government to reach more residents,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee. “The information from the focus groups will help us improve services and how we reach all communities. We will take action on improving access to web services by making them available in multiple languages.”

Since 2000, the City’s Community Technology Program has conducted community research to find out how Seattle residents are using technology, and barriers to use. The results of this research are used by the City in a variety of ways, including to guide our Technology Matching Fund awards, cable franchising, and public information and engagement efforts by a wide range of City departments. It also provides data that non-profits and schools can use in grant proposals and to strategic planning.
Here are a few of the findings:

• 85 percent of Seattle residents have Internet at home, leaving about 93,000 Seattle residents without home Internet.
• 58 percent of Seattle residents now own smart phones, up from 35 percent in 2009.
• Education and age are the most significant factors differentiating technology access and adoption, but the data also shows important differences based on the income, ethnicity, and abilities of those surveyed.
• Broadband and cable TV prices continue to be of concern, but increasing broadband speed is important to those surveyed, with high interest in using higher bandwidth applications.
• The study finds that there is still a significant gap in access to Internet and the skills to use it, though the digital equity gap is more focused in skills and uses of the Internet than on basic access.

See much more on the Technology Access and Adoption Report page.

Report highlights how Seattleites use technology

SEATTLE 5/23 - At a launch event last night, 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.”

Every four years the City of Seattle conducts community research to find out how Seattle residents are using technology.The technology adoption study findings were detailed at the interactive launch event, and are available online at www.seattle.gov/tech/indicators. The summary of findings and recommendations are available in multiple languages.

“The continued rise of smart phone and tablet use provides outstanding opportunities for government to reach more residents,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee. “The information from the focus groups will help us improve services and how we reach all communities. We will take action on improving access to web services by making them available in multiple languages.”

Since 2000, the City’s Community Technology Program has been collecting extensive and statistically valid data on residential use of cable TV, broadband adoption and uses (including health, work, education, finance and civic engagement), barriers to broadband adoption, use of online city services, and customer service needs. The measures used were based on goals for a technology-healthy city developed in collaboration with the City’s volunteer Technology Advisory Board.

Nine focus groups were also conducted to help understand the needs of communities who are often under-represented in the online and phone surveys or may be technologically-underserved.

Findings of the report include:

  • The report finds that 85 percent of Seattle residents have Internet at home and that more residents now own laptops than desktop computers.
  • Since 2009, Seattle has seen mobile phone ownership grow by 11 percent (80 to 89 percent), and has seen a 66 percent growth in the number of residents with smart phones (35 to 58 percent).
  • Broadband and cable TV prices continue to be of concern, but increasing broadband speed is important to those surveyed, with high interest in using higher bandwidth applications.
  • Cable subscribership has dropped 13 percent in the past four years as options for viewing video over the internet have grown.
  • Lower income residents have lower-speed broadband service, though a broad cross section of Seattle residents are interested in using higher speed internet services for activities like medical appointments or taking classes.
  • The study funds that there is still a significant gap in access to internet and the skills to use it, though the digital equity gap is more focused in skills and uses of the internet than on basic access.
  • Email was noted as the preferred way for residents to give their opinion to a community group or the City.
  • Education and age are the most significant factors differentiating technology access and adoption, but the data also shows important differences based on the income, ethnicity, and abilities of those surveyed.
  • The research also found that those with less education tend to make less use of the internet than users with more education.

For more information, visit www.seattle.gov/tech/indicators or contact communitytechnology@seattle.gov or 206-386-9759.

eBay Users Should Change Password due to Breach

All eBay users should change their passwords immediately.  Due to a security breach, customer account information for eBay’s millions of users has been compromised.  To reset your password, here is the eBay password-reset page link .

In a post yesterday on the company’s official blog, eBay said the “database, which was compromised between late February and early March, included eBay customers’ name, encrypted password, email address, physical address, phone number and date of birth. ”  You can read the rest of the blog here.

According to reports and the company, the breach did not affect PayPal systems.  However, eBay and PayPal are affiliated entities and you might also consider changing your PayPal password.  It is always best to use a unique password for every online account.

Users should be especially wary of “phishing” attacks.  Just like during other major events, criminals will use keywords such as “eBay” and “password change” to lure victims into clicking malicious links in emails.  Don’t get tricked – never click links in emails.  Instead, type the website name into your browser for safety.

Did you celebrate Password Day?

May 7th was World Password Day – Did you know that length is more important than complexity for choosing your passwords?  Yup, hackers can crack (guess or determine by force) a “complex” 8 digit code in a few hours – but it takes years to crack a long passphrase, even if it looks simple!  Here’s an example:

9@d3n1Q* – only a few hours to crack!

funky clock arrow pluto = years to crack

*note: a long passphrase is great, but don’t use ONLY lower case letters!

What should we do?  Well, the best practice is a long passphrase using random words.  And, there’s a bonus – it’s easier to remember!  For some fun and great tips on passwords, visit Passwordday.org.

How long should my passphrase be?  Experts recommend twenty or more characters in length.

Should I include some special characters or numbers?  It sure can’t hurt!

OK, but we still use lots of websites and need different passphrases for each.   Even using words from my favorite songs (and mixing them up a bit) it’ll still be hard to remember all my logins.  Luckily, a password manager can help!

Password managers allow you to use one main passphrase, then they auto-generate strong passwords for your logins.  Best of all, they remember all your passwords and do the logging-in for you!  As always, compare products carefully before you choose – to get you started, here’s a review of password managers at PCmag.com, and another review at WSJ.com.

https://passwordday.org/lang.php

http://www.pcmag.com/category2/0,2806,2403435,00.asp

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303647204579545801399272852

El Centro De La Raza helps seniors and youth get online

DigitalConnectorsIIIWith support from the Tech Matching Fund, El Centro de la Raza has expanded Wi-Fi access in its building on Beacon Hill.   By strategically placing nine routers at key locations throughout the building, they now have seamless Wi-Fi coverage throughout the facility.

This has particularly benefited the 125 seniors who come to El Centro for the Senior Wellness Program.   Many of these seniors are isolated due to age, mobility issues and language and cultural barriers.   El Centro provides hands-on training to the seniors, who are often intimidated by new technologies and computers in general.  Volunteers use Century Link Internet Basics curriculum to teach Windows basics, web browsing and using the Internet safely, accessing information online, sending and receiving e-mail, and using social media including Facebook.  The seniors now have an affordable option to browse the Internet and communicate with friends and family in Latin America and Asia.

The wireless access has also supported the Comcast Digital Connectors Program for 18 youth ages 14-21, for two hours, twice a week.  These workshops are on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:30-6:30 PM and support high school age youth to improve their digital literacy and close the digital divide for low-income youth of color.

For more information on the project contact Miguel Maestes at associate@elcentrodelaraza.org, (206) 957-4650.

You’ve been hacked! Now what?

From the City of Seattle, Office of Information Security – Bryant Bradbury

Maybe you opened an e-mail attachment you shouldn’t have and now your computer has slowed to a crawl and other strange things are happening. Or perhaps you’re running an out-of-date, or unpatched, operating system software (such as Windows XP) and have started to see “antivirus warnings.”  Perhaps your bank called, informing you that there has been some unusual activity on your account. Your friends and family may start complaining about spam messages they are purportedly receiving from you. These are all signs that your computer may have been hacked.

If your computer system has indeed been compromised and infected with a virus or other malware, you need to take action to protect your data and prevent your computer from being used to attack others.

Secure Your Computer

Ensure your computer is current with all available patches, fixes, and upgrades. If you do not have your operating system set to automatically update, do so now by visiting your operating system’s website and following the instructions. Links are provided here for Windows users and Mac users.  (In addition, note that support for Windows XP ends effective April 8, 2014. The end of support for Windows XP means that Microsoft will no longer provide new security updates and will therefore become a significant security risk. It is recommended that anyone using Windows XP migrates to products that are supported, such as Windows Vista, Windows 7 or 8.)

Your computer’s security software should also be up-to-date. To check status, click on the icon for the security program on your system. If an update is needed, it will be indicated here. If you don’t have security software installed, you need to get it. Make sure you have anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed and a firewall enabled.

Confirm that your browsers are up-to-date. Tools such as Qualys BrowserCheck or WhatBrowser can help assess status.

Secure Your Accounts

You probably access numerous online accounts, including social media, banking, news sites, shopping, and others. If you’ve been hacked, there is a chance that important passwords have been stolen. Reset your passwords for your critical accounts first, starting with your email account, followed by financial and other critical accounts.  It is important to start with email accounts, since password resets for all of your other accounts are typically sent to your email.

Use separate and unique ID/password combinations for different accounts and avoid writing them down. Make the passwords more complicated by combining letters, numbers, special characters, and by changing them on a regular basis.  If you are unable to log into one of your accounts, contact the service provider or website immediately. Most online providers include an online form, an email address to contact, or a phone number to call.

Secure Your Mobile Device

Our increased reliance on smart devices–including mobile phones and tablets–for everyday activities has resulted in an increased number of hacking attempts against these devices. As we do with our personal computers, we have to ensure that the proper steps are taken to protect our information and devices. This includes installing security software, where available, and keeping all installed software up-to-date.

For More Information

You’ve been hacked, now what?  http://www.net-security.org/article.php?id=1827

Your Email’s Been Hacked! Now What?  http://identitysafe.norton.com/blog/blog/2013/06/03/your-emails-been-hacked-now-what/

You Got Hacked! What Now?  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2403134,00.asp

Hacked: Now What?  http://www.securingthehuman.org/newsletters/ouch/issues/OUCH-201209_en.pdf

I’ve Been Hacked! Now What?  http://netsecurity.about.com/od/disasterrecovery/a/I-Ve-Been-Hacked-Now-What.htm

You’ve been hacked! Now What?  http://www.doit.wisc.edu/youve-been-hacked-now-what/

826 Seattle gets a technology boost

826 Seattle student during after school time

826 Seattle student during after school time

826 Seattle is a nonprofit writing and tutoring center dedicated to empowering young people—particularly disadvantaged youth who risk academic failure due to socioeconomic or language barriers—with the confidence and skills to communicate their personal stories through writing.  Their services are structured around the belief that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that proficiency in writing helps children become more engaged in school and ultimately grow into successful adults.

With a $14,326 grant from the Technology Matching Fund last year, 826 Seattle gave their computer lab a much needed makeover.   They brought in four new iMacs, five laptops,  an iPad and a digital microphone.   Volunteers did everything necessary to get the lab up to speed, including wiping the old computers clean and recycling them.

The new technology suite benefits the students in many ways.  More than 1,000 students came to the center during the first six months of the project to participate in innovative writing workshops on topics ranging from “Snarky and Hallmark-y: Writing Your Own Greeting Cards” to “Before Texting: The Power of Historical Letters.”

More than 150 students also used the computer lab for homework completion.  Technological access is an integral part of students’ daily homework routine, whether it is checking a school website for assignments and grades, doing internet-based research for school projects, or completing mandatory online daily math practice drills.  First grader Nehemiah (pictured above)  listened to jazz and studied jazz history.

If you look for the center in the Greenwood neighborhood, you won’t find a traditional tutoring center sign on the front door.  It’s discreetly tucked away behind the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company,  a retail store that sells space-themed novelties and toys.

For more information on the project, contact Peggy Jackson.

 

Help guide City’s strategies and investments in technology

The City of Seattle is looking for volunteers to join the Citizens’ Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Board (CTTAB). The 10-member board and its committees help guide city strategies and investments in technology and telecommunications. We are currently looking for someone to fill one regular two-year position appointed by the Mayor and additional volunteer positions on committees of the Board.

CTTAB addresses broadband deployment and adoption, mobile and web based services for Seattle.gov, social media, open data, online public engagement, the Seattle Channel, cable TV franchise agreements, Technology Matching Fund grants and efforts to close the digital divide.

The City of Seattle promotes diversity in its boards and commissions. We encourage people with multicultural backgrounds or work experience to apply. We also encourage applications from those who have worked with a diverse population. You do not need to be a techie to care about Seattle’s digital future.

Applications are being accepted through April 3, 2014. Apply by sending your resume and a letter of interest to CommunityTechnology@seattle.gov. (PDFs or Word documents are preferred)

To be a Board member appointed by the Mayor or Council:

  • You must live or work in City of Seattle
  • This is a two-year appointment, potentially renewable for one additional term
  • Time commitment (Five-10 hours per month, depending upon activity)
  • Attendance at monthly meetings (the evening of the second Tuesday of each month)
  • Service to the board expected to begin May 13, 2014
  • Must participate in at least one CTTAB committee
  • Applicant must not be employed by the City of Seattle
  • Must not serve on more than one City of Seattle board or commission

Committee volunteer members have more flexibility in their term of service and who may be on a committee.


For questions email Community Technology or call Megan Coppersmith at 206-233-8736.

Low-cost Internet options, Comcast special until 3/18

Seattle was recently named 1 of 15 “Gold Medal” communities nationwide by Comcast. As a result, they’re offering six months of free Internet service through their Internet Essentials program, for eligible households who apply and are approved for their $10/month program by March 18, 2014, next Tuesday.  Their low-income discount is for families with students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Comcast is one of several companies in Seattle who offer Internet for low-income residents for around $10/month. They all have income and other eligibility guidelines for the discounted service.  The City of Seattle has more information about these programs and Solid Ground’s program to help residents with the choices on their community technology low cost Internet page.

CenturyLink Internet Basics (866) 541-3330

  • Eligible if on most public assistance programs (broader than Comcast)
  • Internet wired to your home via phone line
  • Laptop purchase available for $150
  • Not eligible if you have existing CenturyLink Internet service
  • Internet safety and education materials offered

Comcast’s Internet Essentials Program (855) 846-8376

  • Must have a child eligible for free or reduced lunch
  • Cable Internet wired to your home
  • Laptop purchase available for $150
  • Not eligible if you have existing Comcast Internet service
  • Internet safety and education materials offered

Interconnection/Mobile Citizen (Clear) (206) 633-1517

  • Offers Clear mobile Internet for $8 per month with laptop purchase or about $10 per month without laptop purchase
  • Eligible if on most public assistance programs
  • Refurbished  laptops with a full range of software for $99
  • They have a store in Seattle offering products and assistance

Looking for a computer to use or for computer training? Visit our Free Access to Computers and the Internet page for locations and hours of public access computer centers.