The City of Seattle is committed to promoting a technology healthy community.
The mission of the Community Technology Program is to ensure digital inclusion for all, so that residents and neighborhoods have the information technology capacity needed for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services. This includes work on the digital inclusion essential areas of access, literacy and content.
The City’s major digital equality initiatives include the following:
The City’s community technology programs are developed with guidance from the City's
Citizens Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Board
(CTTAB). Most of these programs are operated through the Department of Information Technology and have been funded since 1997 with money derived from the City’s cable franchise fees.
Public Access Terminals
The City wants to guarantee that residents can reach online government and vital community services. The Department of Information Technology manages free Internet terminals in nine neighborhood service centers, nine family support centers, and a police station. In addition to these partnerships with the Department of Neighborhoods, the Human Services Department, and the Seattle Police Department, we have also worked with the Seattle Arts Commission and local arts organizations to establish artists’ resource Internet stations. The Seattle Public Library also provides free terminals at 22 libraries.
Technology Matching Funds
The Technology Matching Fund was established in 1997 and provides money to Seattle organizations and neighborhood groups to help fund a wide range of citizen-driven information technology literacy and access projects. Community organizations match the City’s contribution with volunteer labor, cash and donated goods and services. In its first four years, the program provided more than $900,000 for 45 grants. This was matched by almost $2 million in community contributions. The Fund has enabled the City to reach deep into the community, partnering to establish and provide services to youth, senior citizens, homeless, immigrants, the disabled, minority and low-income communities. In November, 2003, the Fund was named in memory of Bill Wright, a Central District community leader who embodied the program's goal of creating digital opportunity for all and using technology tools to build strong neighborhoods.
Locate a CTC
The TechMap provides a central directory of over 110 community technology access and training points. Centers are able to update their own information via the web. Available online and in print, the directory connects residents to resources and serves as a referral system for human service providers. It is also an important tool for networking community technology providers, providing planning data and linking funders to community technology program providers.
Information Technology Indicators for a Healthy Community
The Information Technology Indicators project presents a set of measurements intended to reflect the state of information technology as it impacts the social, economic and cultural health of Seattle. These measures will be collected and examined for trends over time. The IT Indicators bring together a range of arenas that we believe will motivate healthy and sustainable IT use. Indicators are included for access, literacy, business and economic development, civic participation, community building, human relationships to technology, and partnership and resource mobilization. The community participated in developing a set of technology healthy community values and in defining the areas covered by the indicators. The City conducted a great deal of original research for the indicators, including a residential survey, small business survey, non-profits survey, and a survey of neighborhood leaders.
In 1997, the City researched and found senior citizens lagging way behind in technology access and literacy. To address this we established a Seniors Training Seniors in Technology program where volunteer peers help each other learn basic computer and Internet skills. In the first two years of this program, 680 seniors were trained by 26 volunteer senior instructors in eight community sites. Seniors Training Seniors in Technology is now managed by the Mayors Office for Senior Citizens.
Community Capacity Building
The City works closely with a range of public, education, community and private partners to coordinate resources and strengthen the services and educational quality of our community technology learning centers
(CTCs). The City spearheaded the effort to organize the state Communities Connect Network, enabling joint development, networking and resource sharing. In an effort expand community participation in 2002, SCTA became the Puget Sound Alliance for Community Technology (PSACT), which supports lifelong learning, civic participation and healthy communities by strengthening community technology programs. Our CTC Sustainability research project looked at the factors that influence the sustainability of community technology programs. This report examines challenges and highlights best practices (see
The City of Seattle also supports the capacity of the non-profit sector to deliver services. In addition to the free cable broadband connections we provide to community agencies and computer learning centers, we also provide free web hosting and listservs to community organizations and offer direct donations of City surplus PC's to non-profit human service agencies and schools.
The City has co-sponsored information technology training for non-profits.