City & Community host Get Online Week Dec 3-8

Get Online logo (stoplight with "Get Online" for go light)Learn more about what families can do on the Internet and where to go for training.  This week, December 3rd-8th, twenty community and cultural centers in Seattle are hosting open houses, individual assistance, and workshops at computer learning centers. See the Get Online Week list of sites and activities or contact Vicky Yuki at 206-233-7877 or vicky.yuki@seattle.gov.  Drop by to learn more about using the Internet, online job resources, consumer information, homework help and a world of activities online.

More About Get Online Week and public computing centers:
Get Online Week is being offered by participating centers in partnership with the City of Seattle Department of Information Technology and the Seattle Public Library.

The only way some people have access to computers, the Internet or technology training is to use the services of nearby public computing centers and libraries. Even for those with computers or Internet devices, these centers also offer valuable training in how to find and use essential services and learning materials online. Many of the centers offer instruction in other languages or specialize in serving specific residents, such as youth, seniors, or the disabled community.

Get Online Week started in 2010 as a one-day event at 10 participating centers in Seattle’s central and south neighborhoods. Get Online Weeks are also held in Europe. This Community Technology education program is part of the City’s effort to ensure digital inclusion and foster broadband adoption.

$75,000 in prizes for best apps – deadline Sept 6

The State of Washington, King County, and the City of Seattle are alerting local applications developers that the deadline for submitting apps to the Evergreen Apps Challenge is only one week away. Eligible entries should be submitted before 5 pm PST on Thursday, Sept 6.

The Challenge is open to people who live, work or study in Washington State and Washington small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

 “The Evergreen Apps Challenge encourages people to find interesting and innovative ways to use government data to improve their community”, said Ted Schmitt, chair of Seattle’s Citizens Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Board. “This is a great opportunity for application developers, designers, entrepreneurs and anyone with ideas for improving their community to leverage the data our government creates everyday to create fun, useful and accessible tools for everyone.”

 The StateCounty, and City have all made datasets available for public use, though any data about Washington State, King County or Seattle can be used for the challenge. Review detailed rules at http://www.evergreenapps.org/ to see if your application or idea is eligible.

 Prizes will be awarded on October 1 at a celebration at Seattle Center.

 

 

What do you want to ask Mayor McGinn?

Wednesday, August 22, at 7 p.m. is Ask The Mayor on the Seattle Channel. Got a burning question?  

Here’s how to get your question to Mayor McGinn:

  1. Call 206-684-8821 during the live show from 7-8 p.m. on Wed., Aug. 22.
  2. Email: askthemayor@seattle.gov
  3. Submit a question online: seattlechannel.org/AskTheMayor
  4. Twitter: @SeattleChannel
  5. Facebook: facebook.com/SeattleChannel

 

Grant available to engage communities & neighborhoods using online technology!

Background

The Online Boost Project was developed in response to what we learned from the Seattle Communities Online assessment and presentations at Neighborhood District Council and community group meetings. Neighborhood groups want to build their capacity to do effective outreach online, maintain their content, foster online engagement and use City widgets and tools.

We are looking for up to 15 projects who will receive up to $1000 in matching funds and will also participate in workshops with experts in using social media. Our goal is to boost their capacity through a project that takes them 3 months or less to complete. This is a one-time initiative and not something we’re currently able to commit to on an ongoing basis.  This program is administered by Community Technology Program of the City of Seattle Department of Information Technology (DoIT).

Program Goals

The Online Boost Project is designed to enhance skills and proficiency on the use of online resources for community groups with workshops, mentorship and seed funding to implement and/or increase their web presence. In coordination with the Seattle Communities Online initiative, we are seeking opportunities to enhance:

  • Increased awareness of community issues;
  • Increased community participation in problem solving; and
  • Increased interaction with government.

Online Boost grantees will have access to:

  • Up to $1000 mini-grants for a quick, specific project to be completed within 3 months.
  • Workshop (required in order to receive funding) where participants would leave the workshop knowing what resources are out there, what their plan of action will be, and how to go about implementing.
  • Mentorship and networking opportunities

The deadline is Tuesday, July 12 at midnight. The application is submitted online and all interested groups must register ahead of time in order to access the application.  You can register at: http://webgrants.seattle.gov.  If you have already registered for another grant with the City, you can log in with your user ID and password and select “Funding Opportunities” and then “Online Boost Grant.”

For help and resources visit the Online Boost Project at http://www.seattle.gov/seattlecommunitiesonline/boost.htm.

For in-person help please contact:

Amy Hirotaka, amy.hirotaka@seattle.gov, by phone at 206-733-9445; or

Vicky Yuki, vicky.yuki@seattle.gov, by phone at 206-233-7877.

Slow Broadband for Low Income, Map Doesn’t Tell Full Story

The FCC recently released the first federal broadband map. It’s definitely worth taking a peek at, and is a valiant first try… But, and there are a lot of buts to this, it’s critical to look at what’s missing as much as what’s there.
The map includes presents reports on advertised speeds, not actual speeds. The speeds are download speeds, and don’t reflect the upload speeds that govern how fast you can post content, send data or provide online services. The map provides a useful broad brush of coverage, but doesn’t ensure that the service is fully available in a given area. Lastly, there is nothing about cost of services.

The cost and speed combination are a critical issue for low income families trying to keep up with growing digital expectations (“Just send it to me, because of course you have hi speed Internet at home…”). A new report that looks a little deeper found that low income urban neighborhoods and rural areas pay more for the service they get than wealthy suburbs. See an article in the New Republic, “Do Low-Income Households Get Slow Broadband by Design?” by Benjamin Orr from the New Republic and the initial article, “Wealthy suburbs get best broadband deals; D.C., rural areas lag behind” by John Dunbar for
The Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University School of Communications.

Using Google forms to survey community members

Google Forms – free for those with Google accounts – can perform many of the same functions as an online tool like Surveymonkey.  Since Surveymonkey charges a monthly fee for surveys over 10 questions long, it’s worth exploring Google Forms to find out if you can send out effective surveys for FREE!

Go to the Google Docs page http://docs.google.com (this requires the user to sign in with a Google account) and click on the “Create New” drop down menu.  Select “Form.”

From here, you can create a questionnaire or survey with a variety of answer types: text, multiple choice, check boxes, choosing from a list, scale, or grid.  As soon as you start setting up your survey, Google generates a live web form with an associated url that you can share or email to your contacts – the link is available at the bottom of the page.  A number of attractive templates are available to choose from, as well.

When someone fills out your survey/questionnaire, the time-stamped responses automatically fill in a Google spreadsheet.  It’s easy to export this spreadsheet into Microsoft Excel to perform a more complex analysis of responses.

Overall, Google Forms is a user-friendly, functional online survey tool.  Have fun!

Volunteer for our Get Online! event

On Thursday, November 18, from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM, many computer learning centers in Central and South Seattle will be hosting events to help community members Get Online!

There will be activities and demonstrations on many topics, including: social networking, posting/viewing photos online, paying bills online, using email, accessing wireless networks, using Skype to make free phone calls, and using the internet safely.

If you’re comfortable helping people use the web to do simple tasks like set up email accounts and perform searches, we’d love to have you as a volunteer!  You can volunteer for one 2-hour session (4-6 PM or 6-8 PM) or help out for the entire event.  For more information on the event and to view the list of participating locations, see our Get Online! page.  Sign up to volunteer by filling out this online form.

Hope to see you on Thursday, November 18!

Public Computing BTOP grant awarded

The Communities Connect Network (CCN)/EdLab Group has been awarded a $4.1 million public computing center grant from the Department of Commerce NTIA Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP), as part of the federal stimulus funding. Residents in Seattle and across Washington State will benefit from today’s joint announcement by the Department of Commerce and Department of Justice. It will significantly increase access to technology and essential services, develop job skills, and encourage broadband adoption for vulnerable residents.

The City of Seattle is a leading partner in CCN and a number of public and non-profit computer access and learning centers here will benefit, including our community centers and Seattle Housing Authority properties. This unique project brings together community non-profits, government, libraries and the justice system to reach vulnerable residents in rural and urban communities in seven counties. The UW I-School, Northwest Justice Project and the Workforce Development Council are among the key partners.

Additional capacity building training and online resources will promote use of best practices in digital literacy, job training, access to legal services, serving limited English speakers, and after-school programs. Read more and see the list of sites on the CCN site .

This project will significantly increase access and encourage broadband adoption for vulnerable residents. It supports the City’s goals of supporting youth and families, public safety, public engagement, race and social justice and working towards digital inclusion for all…and more residents will save driving by being able to do business online. Our Community Technology Program is serving as the liason to this project. Congratulations to all!

Using wikis for online community building

Netsquared, an initiative of Techsoup Global, hosted a session earlier this year called “How Nonprofits Can Use Wikis + Online Community Building.”  You can view a video of the session’s three wiki-experts here and learn about this simple collaborative tool.

One quote from the Adam Frey, the co-creator of Wikispaces, seems particularly relevant: “A wiki is a means, not an end.”

The video about 1.5 hours long, and some of the content focuses on K-12 education.  Nonetheless, the majority of the presentation is certainly relevant and helpful to community and neighborhood groups.

Are you using a wiki for your organization?  Let us know in the comments!

Neighborhood group web tool survey

If you participate in a neighborhood or community group, I’d sincerely appreciate it if you take a few minutes to fill out a short, 6-question online survey about your web tool use.  As a Masters of Public Administration student at the University of Washington, I’m in the process completing my degree project (or “mini-thesis”) on neighborhood and community web tool use. The information gathered from this survey will help me create recommendations to sustain and improve the Seattle Communities Online Project. Answers are confidential, although you do have the option to submit your name and contact information.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at amy.hirotaka@seattle.gov.

Seattle Communities Online Web Tool Survey