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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: City releases new report on residents’ technology use and access

11/17/2009  10:50:00 AM
David Keyes (206) 386-9759
Kristen Glundberg-Prosser  (206) 386-0049

New Technology Study Shows Increased Internet Use
and Need for Faster Broadband Service

Education and Income Are Leading Predictors of Digital Divide

SEATTLE – Mayor Greg Nickels and Councilmember Bruce Harrell today released the results of a new city study on computer and Internet use by Seattle residents. The 2009 Information Technology Access and Adoption Report finds that Seattle has reached a new plateau in connectivity with almost 84% of households having Internet and 74% having higher speed services, mostly through cable and dsl. The survey also found a greater interest in mobile and personalized services, as well as even faster broadband, though residents are concerned with the cost of service.

Education and income were found to be the strongest predictors of information technology adoption, but there were also significant differences based on ethnicity, language, disability and age. The findings offer suggestions about how to continue to be a leading tech city, about technology education and broadband needs, cable tv satisfaction, security concerns, use of health and social networking sites, shopping online, telecommuting, public engagement and e-government services. See for the summary and full research report.

"This report confirms that Seattle residents are online and ready for next generation broadband and services, but that we also have to make it affordable and accessible. It will help us better target customer services," Mayor Nickels said. "I'm pleased to see so many residents using and the Seattle Channel. I know we'll see even more as the city continues to roll out its Citylink blogs, online city data, and multilingual content."

"This report shows strong public interest in the social networking tools, public engagement services, and new customer service tools from our technology plan for Seattle. Moving forward also means we must also help families by supporting the training, access to affordable equipment and services for the most vulnerable residents. They are at the greatest disadvantage if they can't find jobs, access health information, or help their kids with homework online. Because of this, we increased our Technology Matching Fund in 2010. Our support for technology learning centers are helping address some of the concerns cited in the report," said Councilmember Bruce Harrell.

This is believed to be the most comprehensive urban technology use research ever conducted and follows up previous surveys done by the city in 2000 and 2004. The city commissioned a random telephone survey of 1,064 households and then followed-up with ten focus groups to get input from immigrant and refugee groups, African Americans and cell phone only households. For the first time, the survey was also conducted in Spanish.

Chief technology officer Bill Schrier said that city community technology staff are available for consultation or presentations in an effort to help others apply the findings to education and economic development efforts, community services, technology and business development, workforce development, e-government and neighborhoods. More information can be found at or contact or 206-684-0600.

Seattle's Department of Information Technology provides technology services and policy planning for Seattle citizens, businesses and City of Seattle departments and employees.


Seattle Technology Access & Adoption Report – Selected Highlights

When asked what one thing, if anything, would improve Internet service the most, price was named first (47%) followed by speed (26.7%).

More than three-fourths of the computer users feel it would valuable to have significantly faster Internet service.

Two-thirds of computer users have used sites such as Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn, with about 60% being quite comfortable using social networking sites.

Eight of ten computer users have used the Internet to find health information, an increase of more than ten percentage points since 2004.

Buying local
More people use the Internet for local purchasing, but this varies with education and ethnicity. Caucasians are about twice as likely as African Americans to purchase from local businesses online.

A central online directory and better search results for local businesses are the two top actions which residents thought would make it easier to find or purchase from local businesses on the Internet.

Saving gas, time & road congestion
Almost forty percent of computer users said that the Internet saves them "a lot of driving."

Two-thirds (66%) of the computer users who work at a paying job use the Internet to work from home.

Digital Divide status

  • Income: People making under $30,000 are only two-thirds as likely to have home Internet as those with household income above $40,000
  • Education: People with no college education are a third less likely to have home Internet service.
  • Ethnicity: Less than half (44.6%) of the Latino/Hispanic households and only about two-thirds (66.6%) of African Americans have Internet at home compared to almost 90% of Caucasians.
  • Disabilities: Sixty-two percent (62%) of those with disabilities have Internet at home as compared to 87% of those without disabilities.
  • Greater adoption among those with modest incomes would occur with low-cost options available for high speed Internet, training, purchasing computers, and maintaining them safely and securely.
  • Concerns about viruses, spam, and scams continue to prevent some from becoming users or greater users.

For more highlights, see the executive summary at

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