Internet for All Seattle Update Report

The Seattle Information Technology Department’s Community Technology team presented the Internet for All Seattle Update Report at the May 19 City Council Transportation and Utilities Committee (presentation). The Internet for All (IFA) Update Report follows up on the first Internet for All Seattle Report from September 2020 and summarizes progress on initial strategies to increase access and adoption of affordable and reliable internet service. IFA’s roadmap and action plan strives to close the remaining internet adoption gap. 

While Seattle IT has been at the forefront of advancing digital equity over the last 25 years since the first Digital Equity Initiative in 1996, the pandemic has magnified the digital inequities in key demographic groups lacking high-speed internet and devices needed for school and work. 

Over the last six months, the City has undergone significant change, as our region moved through various phases of the coronavirus response plan and measures to ensure our safety. During this tumultuous time, the City has looked to the Internet for All Action Plan as a framework to move closer to our goal of universal internet adoption. The City and our public and private sector partners have strived to make a positive impact, despite working within constrained resources. We focused on activities to meet immediate needs, like distributing devices, hotspots and vital information to community, as well as laying the groundwork for the future by establishing new partnerships, enhancing our technology infrastructure and tracking legislative opportunities. 

A high-level look at the activity in our region: 

  • Internet Service Providers report adding approximately 7,300 Seattle households to their respective low-income internet programs in 2020  
  • The City ramped up efforts to share low-cost broadband options to over 3,000 residents throughout Seattle 
  • The region also stepped up to donate 9,000 devices and loan 40,000 devices to those in need 
  • The City and community partners report that over 5,800 hours of digital skills training and support were delivered, serving 5,228 Seattle residents 

Seattle IT’s Community Technology & Broadband team continues work on the Internet for All Seattle Action Plan, including:  

  • Developing Internet for All Seattle Dashboard. 
  • Promoting availability of Emergency Broadband Benefit. 
  • Pursuing Federal funding opportunities, including COVID related American Rescue Plan Act funding. 
  • Exploring all opportunities to foster donations, sponsorships, and financial support from external partners (public/private). 
  • Administering 2021 Technology Matching Fund grants. 
  • Upgrading Wi-Fi at Community Centers. 
  • Upgrading Wi-Fi at remaining Seattle Public Library branches. 
  • Supporting a Seattle Community Cellular Network (CCN) pilot.  

Stay tuned for more Internet for All Seattle progress updates through Seattle IT’s digital equity page and on Seattle IT’s Tech Talk Blog