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City of Seattle
Mike McGinn (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Mayor details city services that will be unavailable due to a scheduled partial shutdown of city Data Center

8/23/2012  12:00:00 PM

Mayor details city services that will be unavailable
due to a scheduled partial shutdown of city Data Center

Critical public safety systems like "911," emergency dispatching not affected

SEATTLE - Mayor Mike McGinn and city staff today detailed city services that will not be available due to upcoming maintenance that will result in the partial shutdown of the city's Data Center over the Labor Day weekend. City staff recently discovered a power transmission problem that impacts the Data Center, among other city infrastructure. Critical public safety systems will not be affected, but services such as permit applications, paying City Light bills and applying for a business license will not be available. The city is encouraging residents and customers to plan around this outage by transacting business with the city before the morning of Friday August 31 or to wait until after Tuesday September 4. It will take 72 hours to replace the electrical system components, known as "bus B," supporting the Data Center. Additional time will be required on either side of these 72 hours to shut down certain applications and servers and then start them back up.

On Monday, July 23, 2012, the city of Seattle identified a power transmission problem with "bus B" in the Seattle Municipal Tower that directly impacts the Department of Information Technology's (DoIT) Data Center and IT infrastructure of City Light and the Department of Transportation. "Bus B," which is one of several electrical busways used to provide power to different portions of the building, had a higher-than-normal temperature level, which indicates it is in need of replacement. The city reduced the electrical load on "bus B", which stabilized the bus and allowed the city to schedule the replacement for Labor Day weekend. The Data Center will be partially shut down to support this repair, as will some building systems. More details regarding what services will be unavailable, and when, can be found online at

"The reliable delivery of basic services is at the core of city government," said McGinn. "And while replacing electrical system components that support our Data Center will result in the unavailability of some services, this maintenance work is necessary. But we're not stopping there - we need to bring our systems up to the standards of the 21st century. For the past three years, we have been working to diversify our technology and today we have applications in the cloud and multiple data centers. My 2013 proposed budget will include funding to begin planning and designing alternatives that will give our Data Center more capacity, redundancy and resiliency. I ask that the media help us get the message out to the public so that people can plan around these services being unavailable."

The mayor asks that those with questions about the unavailability of affected city services resulting from the partial data center shutdown contact the city's Customer Service Bureau's main phone number: 684-CITY (2489). The Customer Service Bureau's normal operating hours are weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Because of the potential service impacts during this event, Customer Service Bureau staff will answer phones from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 1, Sunday, September 2, and Monday, September 3. Messages left outside of those times during the holiday weekend will be monitored by staff supporting the maintenance work.

In-person activities, such as paying bills or applying for licenses and permits, will be affected as well because the systems supporting these services will not be available. In addition, there will be customer service impacts to city operations that are typically available on weekends, for example:

  • With one exception, Neighborhood Service Centers will be closed on Saturday, September 1. (Normally four - Ballard, University, Central and Southeast - are open on Saturdays.) The exception to the Saturday closure is the Central NSC which will be open for Cable customers. Cable bill processing is not impacted by the Bus B repair. If utility customers or passport customers visit, they will be given manual receipts for any payments.
  • The Seattle Animal Shelter will be open but will not be able to issue or renew pet licenses (license renewal penalties will be suspended over the weekend so that pet owners can renew once the systems are back online).

Applications and servers will begin to be brought down during the week of August 27, before the work to replace the bus B components begins at 6 p.m., Friday, August 31.

The budget for this maintenance work is approximately $2.1 million, covered with existing city funds.

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Office of the Mayor

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