Technology Access and Adoption in Seattle

Welcome to our profile on how Seattle residents use information and communications technology

This report was the fourth time since 2000 that the City has conducted extensive research into residents' use of technology.  The data covers Internet and mobile access, interest in high speed Internet, barriers to access, cable customer and education needs, civic engagement, use of social media and more.  Over 2,600 very diverse residents participated in a random telephone survey, an online survey, or focus groups.

Seattle continues to be a leading city in access and use of communications technologies, though a digital divide does still exist between our neighbors.  The City is using this data to guide how we deliver services and interact with the community.  We encourage others to also use this to keep moving Seattle forward as an innovative, connected, affordable and caring community.  In addition to the main report, you'll find individual community focus group reports, a much more detailed technical report, and the survey questions we used. The collected data set is also available for others to do additional analysis.

See the news release or a video presentation of the report from our public forum at Seattle Goodwill.

Sample of findings:

Computer and Internet Access

Technology Ownership
Click image to enlarge
  • 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

Social media use
Click image to enlarge
  • 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. 

Mobile Use

Computer and mobile device ownership since 2000
Click image to enlarge
  • 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. 

Civic Participation

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

Super high speed internet
Click image to enlarge
  • 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.