Technology Access and Adoption in Seattle

Every four years, the City conducts a survey of residents to determine their level of access to the internet and other digital technologies.  The 2018 study is currently underway, and final results are expected to be released this fall.  Over 20,000 randomly selected residents will be asked to participate by responding to the survey via mail, phone or online.  The City is working with both Seattle Public Schools and Seattle Housing Authority to reach a wide range of residents. Survey responses will be used only for the purposes of this survey; all responses will be deidentified. The survey will be conducted in English and Spanish. 

View the notification postcard, an example of the City of Seattle Cover Letter, or the Seattle Housing Authority Cover Letter.

If you have questions about the survey, please call Chance Hunt at (206) 256-5166 or Seferiana Day at (206) 256-5489. 

The City of Seattle believes that increasing access to technology and the internet improves quality of life in our city. The City needs to know how Seattle residents use technology and the internet, as well as understand the barriers that prevent residents from getting connected. The findings will help the City as it strives to ensure the access, services, and resources necessary for all Seattle residents to succeed in life.

Download the 2014 Summary Report [PDF], the more detailed technical report, or the survey questions.

A short summary of the results are also available in Spanish, Vietnamese, Somali, Tiginya, Chinese, and Oromo.

Sample of 2014 findings:

Technology Ownership
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  • Internet use and access at home continues to be high in Seattle; 85% of those surveyed (and 75% of focus group participants) have at least "some" internet access at home. 
  • Seattle is a mobile internet community: ownership of laptops (72%) and mobile devices (smartphone and tablets, 66%) has outgrown home desktop computers (55%)
  • Community technology access sites are still vital for those with limited resources.  A fifth of our phone respondents and 45% of online respondents use computers at the library while 15% of online respondents go to a community center to use a computer. The need for community access locations was emphasized in all the focus groups.

Social media use
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  • Seattle residents are using Facebook and Twitter, but these can't be depended on to reach all residents.  Sixty-six percent of residents have used Facebook and 33% have used Twitter, though many fewer use it frequently. 

Computer and mobile device ownership since 2000
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  • Since 2009, Seattle has seen mobile phone ownership grow by 11% (80 to 89%), and a 66% growth in the number of residents with smart phones (35 to 58%). 
  • Overall mobile internet access is lower among traditionally under-represented participants, though cell phone usage is about the same. 

Email 75% 85%
Web Survey 22% 60%
Facebook 10% 24%
Blog 6% 25%
Twitter 4% 10%

Preferred Electronic Method for Giving Opinion

  • Civic participation continues to be important to the Seattle residents surveyed. Just over half (53%) of the telephone respondents and 77% of online respondents said they participate in a community group. 
  • For residents, Email is the preferred way to give their opinion to a community group or the City. (75% in the phone survey, 87% in the online survey, down to 38% in the focus groups). There is also high interest in participating through online community meetings (58% in phone survey, 71% of online respondents). Focus group participants were diverse, most often saying online survey (38%), community meetings (36%), or telephone survey (31%). 

Super high speed internet
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  • Seattle users want higher speed services. Most (85%) of the internet users interviewed by telephone indicated that they would be interested in super high-speed internet access, as did all of the online respondents. There was very significant interest in super high-speed services across ethnicities and incomes. 
  • A third of the phone respondents and about a fifth of online respondents had no concerns about using super high-speed services.