The City and our Community Technology staff personally feel very fortunate to be able to do our work; helping to ensure technology access and literacy for all. Our efforts to close the digital divide do more than put technology and access and skills into people’s hands. They level the playing field of opportunity for access to jobs, health and consumer information, and education. While the divide over some basic access to computers has closed, there are still many who have yet to touch a computer mouse for the first time or are challenged to use the web to look for a job, to use it to learn English, or be able to effectively comparison shop for the prices. Many of these activities for those who can afford the latest and greatest, or have the community of techie friends, are taken for granted. In 2011, we were able to apply your money–the cable franchise fees that the city collects–and provide services including the following:
- Provided more than 2600 hours of public computer use at the City Neighborhood Service Centers. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, a few locations were closed, though we were able find a new location in Greenwood at the foodbank, thanks to Volunteers of America.
- Fifty-three new free cable broadband connections were installed at community organizations, thanks to our agreements with Comcast and Broadstripe/WAVE.
- Twenty-two Technology Matching Fund projects were completed, thanks to our community partners.
- Awarded $320,000 in 23 new Technology Matching Fund grants.
- Our new Boost mini-grants and training increased the online capacity of 16 neighborhood organizations.
- Provided 10 public educational sessions on computer safety and security.
- Ten community computer labs and volunteers helped us hold Get Online Week, where residents could get an orientation and training in computer and Internet use.
- We helped launch the new CommunitiesConnect web site and the implementation of the public computing projects funded by the federal BTOP program, with the EdLab Group.
As we look to 2012 and beyond, we know that the economy is making it very tough for a lot of families and the community organizations that help people with their daily needs and paths to new opportunity. With great support from the Mayor and Council, we will keep working hard and working closely with the community to ensure technology access, skills and effective electronic public engagement for all Seattle residents.
–David Keyes, Community Technology Program Manager, City of Seattle