City of Seattle named Digital Inclusion Trailblazer

Seattle only city to be recognized with all six qualifiers

The City of Seattle was named as a Digital Inclusion Trailblazer once again by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA). Digital Inclusion Trailblazers is a public inventory of local government initiatives promoting digital literacy and broadband access for underserved residents.  

“I’m so proud Seattle was once again recognized for our work in digital equity,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “We know that access to technology is a race and social justice issue, and the past year has further magnified the digital inequities in our community. Too many in our City still lack the technology or the technological skills they need for school or work. This work has truly been a team effort for the city, with multiple departments and community organizations working together to ensure Seattle residents have the tools and infrastructure they need to thrive in our digitally-connected world. This work remains vital as begin to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Seattle was one of 16 cities recognized with this honor this year. Seattle was the only city noted to have all six of the qualifiers for the honor. The qualifiers for this designation are having a full-time staff, a digital inclusion plan, government participation, publish research about internet access, dedicating government funds for digital inclusion programming, and government taking steps to increase affordability.  

“While our high-tech city needs to do much more to address the digital divide, this Digital Inclusion Trailblazer designation recognizes our important recent efforts — including our Internet for All action plan,” said Councilmember Alex Pedersen. “Our Internet for All initiative launched last summer spurred additional short-term and long-term efforts to connect low-income residents to affordable and reliable internet so they have access to jobs, education, medical services, and other vital needs. This national recognition confirms Seattle is on the right track and encourages us to achieve greater results from our digital equity network.” 

The City of Seattle’s robust digital program includes Technology Matching Fund grants awarded to qualifying non-profit organizations in Seattle for digital equity projects. City dollars are matched by the community’s contribution of volunteer labor, materials, professional services, or cash. Another major initiative, Internet for All, ensures all Seattle residents have access to broadband internet service that is reliable and affordable. This mission furthers the City’s long and ongoing commitment to equitably expanding access to residential broadband.  

“The City of Seattle has long valued digital equity for all residents,” said Seattle’s interim Chief Technology Officer Jim Loter. “The Digital Equity and Broadband team here are passionate about this work, and the NDIA has long been a valuable partner to us in helping us meet our inclusion goals. The connections we’ve made in the community helps ensure those who want connectivity have access to it.” 

“Trailblazers showcases the best digital inclusion efforts in local governments across the country. As an organization tracking digital inclusion work nationwide, we’re thrilled to see that Seattle fulfilled all six criteria as a 2021 Trailblazer. This is the only local government to do so, and we’re excited to see how they sustain this work in the future,” said Angela Siefer, executive director, National Digital Inclusion Alliance.  

NDIA first launched this effort in 2016 as an advocacy tool for local, state, and national digital inclusion leadership. To learn more about the City of Seattle’s digital equity programs, visit www.seattle.gov/tech/initiatives/digital-equity.