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.

Evergreen Apps Challenge winners announced

Over $75,000 in prizes was awarded in the Evergreen Apps Challenge on October 1 at Seattle City Hall. See the list of winners and try out their apps at http://www.evergreenapps.org/congratulations-to-the-winners-of-the-evergreen-apps-challenge/

Entries were reviewed by a panel of expert judges, including Francis Benjamin, of Washington State University; Adam Gentz, of BizXchange; Mónica Guzmán, of Geekwire; Susannah Malarkey, Executive Director of the Technology Alliance; Manny Medina, CEO of GroupTalent; Jason Preston, co-founder of Dent the Future; and Bill Schrier, Deputy Director of the Center for Digital Government.

Read what judge Monica Guzman had to say in her Seattle Times blog at  http://blogs.seattletimes.com/monica-guzman/2012/10/02/living-voters-guide-whichbus-win-top-honors-in-state-app-contest/#.UGtfv6ts8hM.twitter

The apps were assessed against a range of criteria including innovation, user experience and design, potential impact on Washington State, King County, and/or Seattle residents, visitors and businesses. They also had to be available for public use for the next year.

More than 100 people joined dignataries at the awards event, which  included Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and Washington Governor Chris Gregoire (via video).

Evergreen Apps Challenge to award $75,000 in prizes at Oct 1 event

Winners of the Evergreen Apps Challenge will be named on October 1, 2012, at Seattle City Hall. Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine will kick off  the event with $75,000 in prizes  awarded for the best new civic apps, including two people’s choice awards. The people’s choice awards will be decided by those in attendance and everyone who registers gets a vote.

 “The intersection of technology and society inspire our storytelling at GeekWire, and this event combines these themes along with one that is close to my heart: doing well by doing good.  I can’t wait to see what the app developer community has created for this challenge,” said Rebecca Lovell of GeekWire, who is emceeing the awards ceremony.

Registration is free at http://bit.ly/UQkLvy. The event will be held Monday, October 1, in the Bertha Knight Landes Room, Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Avenue, in Seattle, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Music and light refreshments will be provided.

See entire announcement here: http://www.seattle.gov/news/detail.asp?ID=13122

 

 

Startup Weekend Gov at City Hall April 27-29

The first Startup Weekend aimed at connecting local application developers, entrepreneurs and community members with online government data will take place on April 27, 28 and 29, in Seattle City Hall. 

 “We’re asking the technology and start-up communities to help us find new ways to use government data. Startup Weekend Gov is a great opportunity to come build an application and make a difference in your community,” said Mayor Mike McGinn.

Startup Weekend Gov offers a 54-hour work session that begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 27. Developers will use data posted by the City of Seattle, King County and the State of Washington to create new mobile apps and business ideas that make government services more accessible and relevant to residents and businesses.

Data sets can be found at

Share your ideas at https://opennw.ideascale.com

Register for Startup Weekend Gov at http://seattlegov.startupweekend.org

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.

Twitter releases “10 Most Powerful Tweets of 2010″

Yesterday, Twitter released its list of the ten most powerful tweets of 2010.  The chosen tweets, according to the Twitter Blog, “represent the dynamic ways that people use Twitter in the political world, for disaster relief, and to add commentary to news events, sports and entertainment.”

Some might wonder how Ann Curry, an NBC reporter tweeting a plea to the US Air Force to allow Doctors Without Borders to land their plane in Haiti after the earthquake, instigated any real action.  According to the Smart Blog on Social Media, the story began when Curry saw a tweet from Doctors Without Borders about their frustrating inability to land in Haiti.  This caught her attention, and not only did she tweet about the problem herself, she was able to contact Pentagon officials and solve the problem.

Interestingly, Doctors Without Borders also issued a press release about the problem.  But it was a humble little tweet, less than 140 characters in length, that got the attention of those who actually took action.

Many local governments and agencies, the City of Seattle included, are increasing their use of online social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook.   For example, Mayor McGinn tweets frequently, and King County Metro has an amazingly thorough Twitter feed.  Cities and counties are finding new ways to communicate with citizens — beyond  carefully crafted and vetted press releases — and Twitter remains on the forefront.

Many City of Seattle departments and elected officials have Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Check them out!

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!

New WordPress “Tweet Button” Available!

WordPress has added an “Official Tweet Button” for all WordPress.com blogs!  It’s a really exciting feature that allows your readers to easily tweet a link to your blog post.

To add the button to your blog, go to Appearance > Extras menu and select the Show a Twitter Tweet Button on my posts option.

Read more about the “Tweet Button” on WordPress.com’s blog.

How is your neighborhood/community group integrating tools like Twitter and Facebook with blogs?  Comment below!