Seattle is Committed to Preserving Net Neutrality

Jim Loter is the Director of Digital Engagement for the City of Seattle

On February 20th I was honored to have the opportunity to testify before the Washington State Senate Energy, Environment, and Technology Committee about the importance of net neutrality to the consumers of Seattle. I made the point that net neutrality was essential to achieving the digital equity and inclusion goals of the City of Seattle. Loss of net neutrality protections, I argued, would adversely affect lower income residents and business owners who cannot afford to pay higher rates simply to access certain sites, content, or services.

You can watch the full testimony here.

I was overjoyed when, 2 weeks later, Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 2282 to protect net neutrality rules at the state level and ensure that internet providers cannot manipulate internet speeds and access to content. The Washington Open Internet Law law was the first of its kind in the nation. The law will prohibit companies that offer internet services from blocking legal content and applications; it will prohibit them from throttling internet traffic; and it will prohibit them from prioritizing certain traffic in exchange for payment (“paid prioritization”). The law also requires internet providers to disclose to their customers information about network management practices, performance, and terms. The law goes into effect on June 6th.

At the national level. the US Senate is moving to a vote later this month that could block the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality. Today – Wednesday, May 9th – marks the start of a national “Red Alert” campaign on net neutrality. Many popular web sites will be displaying information designed to raise awareness and urge elected officials to vote to overturn the FCC’s decision. You can read more the Red Alert at https://www.battleforthenet.com and find out how to contact your elected officials about this upcoming vote.

Given that this week is also Digital Inclusion Week, it is especially important to remember that the loss of net neutrality is most detrimental to those who are already underserved by technology. Net neutrality is a critical component in ensuring that the most vulnerable populations have access to the information and services they need to fully participate in their community and in civic life. Here in Seattle, our commitment to digital inclusion via our Digital Equity Initiative and our commitment to preserving net neutrality go hand-in-hand. Help us by speaking up and by contacting your elected officials in DC about this important issue.

New Report Discusses Approaches for Increasing Public Wi-Fi Service in Seattle

In 2016 the City of Seattle commissioned a report to identify areas where publicly-accessible Wi-Fi can have a meaningful impact in Seattle and to identify potential funding sources, business models, and partners to expand the availability of public Wi-Fi services, especially as a means to address Seattle’s digital equity and digital inclusion needs.

As part of this work, the City also released a Request For Information (RFI) to gather information and ideas from service providers and other vendors.

The resulting study, completed in February 2017, has indicated that there is a great deal of interest in accessing City fiber, real estate, right-of-way, and other assets for the purposes of providing Wi-Fi but that the City needs to determine the appropriate value of these assets.

The study also found that there are opportunities for increasing public Wi-Fi at low or no cost to the City through models that are supported by advertising and other revenue-generating models, but that the City needs to examine the public policy implications of these models and engage the community to determine how these approaches would work in Seattle.

The work to determine the areas of greatest impact in Seattle and the most appropriate and effective business models will continue throughout 2017.

Read the Wi-Fi report here [PDF; 3 MB]

Check Out Open Data from the Library

The Seattle Public Library has released a dataset to the City’s open data portal called Checkouts by Title. The dataset includes a count of checkouts by month of both physical and digital items, and spans from 2005 to the present. Check out more information that the Library has posted over at the Shelf Talk blog, including their analysis of physical vs ebook checkouts of a certain popular title.

David Doyle is the City’s New Open Data Program Manager

David Doyle, Open Data Program Manager

David Doyle has been hired as the Open Data Program Manager for the City of Seattle. David will work alongside the current manager, Bruce Blood, who will be retiring in January. He will primarily focus on continuing the implementation of the Open Data policy signed by Mayor Ed Murray on February 1, 2016. This work involves coordinating efforts across all city departments to accelerate the publishing of high value datasets into http://data.seattle.gov. He’ll also partner closely with the City’s Community Technology Advocate, Candace Faber, on initiatives that strengthen Open Data’s role as a key pillar in the City’s Civic Engagement strategy, as well as participating in various efforts to represent and promote the City of Seattle as a leading Smart City in the US.

Prior to joining the City of Seattle, David worked at Microsoft for over 18 years within the Windows localization and internationalization teams. Most recently he ran a Data Insights team that focused on Windows 10 worldwide customer data, analyzing data from hundreds of millions of customers to provide insights into customer usage patterns outside of the US and ensuring that key customer feedback from those markets was prioritized and addressed. Prior to that role, he managed test teams that focused on assuring the localization quality of several major releases of the Windows operating system in over 100 languages, culminating with the Windows 10 initial release in July 2015.

David’s passion for Open Data resulted in him completing a policy analysis of the impacts of an Open Data Law for Washington State for his Capstone research project when earning a Master of Arts in Policy Studies from University of Washington-Bothell, in 2015. He is an active member of the eGov Committee, a sub-committee of Seattle’s Community Technology Advisory Board (CTAB), which advises and supports the City on technology initiatives. David also holds an Master of Science in Technology Management from University College Dublin, Ireland, and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Sciences (Computer Science & Physics) from the Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland.

Your Rights During a Cable Outage

If your household is affected by a widespread cable outage, you have some recourse under the City of Seattle’s cable franchise agreements and the Cable Customer Bill of Rights. Please note that the City’s franchising authority extends to cable television service only and does not include Internet service.

First, make sure that you report your outage by calling your provider:

  • Comcast: 1-800-COMCAST (266-2278)
  • Wave: 1-866-928-3123
  • CenturyLink: 1-800-244-1111

The Cable Customer Bill of Rights (Seattle Municipal Code Chapter 21.60) specifically allows for customers who report outages to receive credit. Under Section C.3:

b. In the event of a system outage (an outage is a service interruption that involves a loss or substantial impairment in reception on all channels for a period of one hour or more) resulting from grantee equipment failure affecting five or more customers, the grantee shall initiate repairs within two hours after the third customer calls to report the outage.

c. All customers who call the grantee to report an outage shall receive credit for the entire day on which the outage occurred and for each additional day the outage continues.

The Cable Customer Bill of Rights also establishes levels and quality of service to ensure customer satisfaction. Specifically when it comes to courtesy, accessibility, responsiveness, services for customers with disabilities, customer information, customer privacy, safety, satisfaction guarantees, complaint procedures and credits to customers, the City of Seattle can advocate on your behalf. Please visit the Office of Cable Communications web site for more information, including how to contact us.