Literally Checking The Internet Out of the Library


In the beginning it was books, then audio, then video. Years later, downloads were available on your own device. Now, you can check the internet out of the Seattle Public Library. Not ‘check out’ as in connect online at the library. You can literally go to your Seattle Public Library branch, check out the internet and take it home with you.

The SPL Hot Spot, also known as the Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot

The SPL Hot Spot, also known as the Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot

Seattle Public Library is now offering the ‘SPL Hot Spot’ for you to check out and take home for 21 days at a time. You check it out just like you would a book, CD, DVD or any other library item.

Thanks to a $225,000 grant from Google, anyone with a Library card can now check out Wi-Fi hotspot devices to use at home for free.

“Broadband is becoming a necessity to be successful in today’s world,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “Whether applying for a job, completing a homework assignment or paying a bill, you need access to the Internet. Thanks to the Library’s partnership with Google, this new initiative will help hundreds of Seattle families check out their own Wi-Fi hotspot.”

There is a need. A 2014 city of Seattle Information Technology Access and Adoption report revealed that over 90,000 Seattle residents lacked Internet access at home. When household income dropped to under $20,000, approximately 57 percent reported having no access.

Borrowing the device is free. However, if you damage it or fail to return the hot spot, a $199 charge will be applied to your library account. You can return the hotspot to any Library location or book drop, just like other items. You must return the device with all the original packaging and accessories. Please fully charge the battery before you return the device.

The Seattle Public Library currently provides more than 800 Internet computers across 27 locations, which are heavily used. Each location also offers free Wi-Fi.

A Civic Cocktail Double Feature: City of SeattleTechnology and Movies

cityclublogo seattlechannellogo


Across the country, big cities are investing in technology to connect people, improve cities and make government more effective. Cities, including Seattle, are hosting hackathons, developing technology plans and innovating alongside entrepreneurs and startups. What makes Seattle unique in civic tech and what can we learn from other cities? Microsoft’s directors of technology and civic engagement/innovation in Boston, Cathy Wissink, and Chicago, Adam Hecktman, will join Rebecca Lovell, the city of Seattle’s startup liaison, to discuss how technology can power civic engagement and innovation.

May’s Civic Cocktail is a double feature. The second half is a one-on-one conversation with Seattle International Film Festival’s Artistic Director Carl Spence one week before SIFF kicks off. Spence will talk to host Joni Balter about the popular film festival and what to expect this year. Recognized as one of the top film festivals in North America, the Seattle International Film Festival (May 14 – June 7, 2015) is the largest, most highly attended film festival in the United States reaching more than 150,000 annually.

A panel of journalists will join the discussion: Crosscut’s Drew Atkins and Florangela Davila, Geekwire’s Monica Guzman, The Stranger’s Charles Mudede, Puget Sound Business Journal’s Emily Parkhurst and KIRO radio’s Tom Tangney

Civic Cocktail – presented by Seattle Channel, Seattle CityClub and Crosscut – offers a night of networking, civic conversation, Tom Douglas appetizers and a no-host bar.

If you can’t make it, you can watch the Civic Cocktail panels the day after on the Seattle Chanel. Watch past Civic Cocktails here.

We Have a Winner


It took hours and hours of coding and planning, but “Hackcessible” is the winner of the latest “Hack the Commute” competition.


A screenshot of Hackcessible.

Hackcessible is an app for those with mobility issues. It displays potential disruptions like closed sidewalks, steep hills, and ramp accessibility. Hackcessible helps plan walking trips for people who have some challenges getting around.

The winning team of Allie DeFord, Nicholas Bolten, Reagan Middlebrook, and Veronika Sipeeva take home Kindle tablets, cloud computing credit for Azure, course credit from General Assembly, and a 6-month membership at Impact Hub Seattle. They say they plan to keep developing Hackcessible and other projects in the future.

The team worked with mentors from Seattle’s Department of Transportation and the University of Washington as they developed their project. Special thanks go to Dr. Anat Caspi of the Taskar Center for Accessible Technology and Dr. Alan Borning for their help.

Photos from the event are available here. You can also meet the team at the upcoming Civic Cocktail on May 6th.

Hack the Commute: The Final Three


It’s down to the final three. Three teams of coders competing for the “Hack the Commute” championship. To get here, it was hours of coding, collaborating and competing over several weekends in April.

These teams move on to the Championship Round today (April 29) in the Bertha Knight Landes Room in Seattle City Hall:

Live demo
Screenshots and repo
Team: Allie Deford, Nicholas Bolten, Reagan Middlebrook, Veronika Sipeeva

This app is developed to help people who use wheelchairs plan their routes in Seattle, taking into account their specific accessibility needs. It can be used as an extention to OneBusAway application or as a separate tool. Today, the app allows users to check the terrain around the bus stop for accessibility issues, report obstacles and verify information contribued by other users. The future goal is to allow users to search for an accesible route based on their preferences.

Screenshots and repo
Team: Ash Bhoopathy, Andrew Charkin, Michael Charkin
Informal. On-demand. Trusted. The best way to find friendly colleagues to commute with.
This app is designed for iOS.

WorkOrbit (produced by Geohackers for Good)
Screenshots and repo
Team: Allan Yeung, Adrienne Kerr, Andy Barr, Darren Mills
We aim to help new residents of Seattle find the right neighborhood with an experience that encourages informed transit choices.

We have some very generous prizes for the winning team from our sponsors:

Additionally, the winning tool will be featured in Socrata‘s app store, highlighted during the next Civic Cocktail and presented at the Smart Cities conference on June 1st in Washington DC.

Tickets are free.

Cable in Seattle: Know Your Rights As a Building Owner

In your own your home, cable is relatively straightforward. But issues can become unclear when interacting with tenants.  It can be time confusing and complicated if you manage or own buildings where service is consistently transferred between tenants or switched on and off at the end of a lease agreement.

Ken Fellman

Ken Fellman

Nationally recognized cable and telecommunications expert Ken Fellman is coming back for another seminar to inform you about new language in Seattle’s Cable Code that relates to service for multiple dwelling unit buildings and help answer questions like:

– What happens when your current cable contract expires?
– How are service contracts and right-of-entry agreements different?
– Do you have to sign a long-term cable service agreement?
– Can you negotiate with the cable operator?
– Who really owns the cable wiring in your building?

This seminar, sponsored by the City of Seattle Office of Cable Communications, is this Monday, April 27, 2015 from 6:30 to 8:30pm. More details:

Monday, April 27, 2015
6:30-8:30 p.m.
Seattle Pacific University
Otto Miller Hall, Room 109
3469 Third Ave W, Seattle, WA 98119

To register for this free seminar, email your name, contact information and neighborhood(s) of your building(s) to or via our on-line comment form


See ‘Sea IT’ Here

Sea IT Logo

On Wednesday, April 15, 2015, about 140 City of Seattle and King County IT professionals got together for the first-ever Sea IT Conference. It was an opportunity to showcase new projects and services across IT in Seattle. In addition, we had some guest speakers from industry to talk about the latest trends and solutions.

If you didn’t have the opportunity to attend, here are videos from the presentations.

Video: CTO Michael Mattmiller kicks off the Sea IT Conference

Video: Office 365 Migration Demonstration & Panel Discussion

Video: GIS Mapping – Seattle Parks and Recreation

Video: “Hack the Commute” Panel Discussion

Video: Virtual of Next Generation Data Center (NGDC)

Video: University of Washington Professor Ryan Calo on Privacy

Video:  Seattle Police Body Cameras and Bodycam YouTube Channel Pilot Project with Chief Operating Officer of the Seattle Police Department Mike Wagers

Video: The Internet of Things

Video: Keynote Speaker, Robbie Bach

Thanks again to everyone who attended and helped make this such a successful first venture.

“Privacy Politics” on Seattle Speaks

“Are we losing our privacy?” That’s the question at Town Hall as the Seattle Speaks series focuses on “Privacy Politics”.

Tonight, a very important panel discussion will take place that effects everyone. In this era of open government, data is critical to the promise of efficiency and transparency. But does releasing certain government-held information harm or help the public? City of Seattle leaders are pursuing a new privacy initiative that could impact everything from 911 calls to utility bills to recordings from police-worn body cameras. Plus, how are governments responding to crippling requests for vast volumes of digital data while trying to protect your privacy rights?

Joining the panel discussion are Bruce Harrell, Seattle City Councilmember; Tracy Ann Kosa, of the Seattle Privacy Coalition and a member of the city of Seattle Privacy Advisory Committee; Mike Wagers, chief operating officer for the Seattle Police Department; and Nourisha Wells, chair of the city of Seattle’s Citizens Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Board.

The program will be broadcast live on Seattle Channel cable 21 (HD on Comcast 321 and Wave 721) and online at Join the conversation in person or online, where you can take part in polls and voice your opinion via social media and e-mail. #SeattleSpeaks

Admission to Seattle Speaks is free, but advance registration is required. Register and take the pre-show poll at or call (206) 682-7395. Doors open at 6 p.m. with audience instructions at 6:30 p.m. and the live televised program at 7 p.m.

Join Us For Seattle Speaks: “Privacy Politics”

In our open data, cloud computing world, privacy is a key issue that continually needs to be addressed. The City of Seattle recently adopted its own set of Privacy Principles to keep our citizens informed and protected and to provide transparency.  Our department-specific  Privacy Tool Kits will be implemented in the coming months.

Seattle is taking the lead on privacy issues, but as technology changes, so will privacy initiatives.   With that in mind, the next topic for Seattle City Club’s Seattle Speaks series is “Privacy Politics.”

Bruce Harrell, Seattle City Council Member & Chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee
Bruce Harrell, Seattle City Council Member & Chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee

Join Councilmember Bruce Harrell, Seattle CTO Michael Mattmiller, Seattle PD COO Mike Wagers and others as they offer insight on topics like:  Are we losing control of our digital privacy?  Does releasing certain government-held information harm or help the public?

 Seattle Speaks is Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at Town Hall. You can even submit questions right now on the registration page.  Doors open at 6 pm. Because this event is televised live, audience members are asked to take their seats by 6:30 pm for the 7 pm program.

The Emmy-award winning Seattle Speaks series is presented in partnership with Seattle CityClubSeattle Channel and Town Hall.


Don’t Throw Your Electronics Away! e-Cycle Them!

Recycling is easy: paper, plastic, compost. You also take your old clothes or furniture to your favorite charitable thrift shop. But what about your old computers, monitors, or other old technology? Now you can safely recycle your outdated electronics. will e-cycle anything with a cord.eCycle-Event-Banner

Bring your laptops, desktops, mobile device, monitors, printers, mice, keyboards, cables, anything with a cord to CenturyLink Field on Saturday, April 11th to the North Parking Lot from 10am to 2pm.



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.


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