Seatttle City (spot)Light: Doreen McGrath

Doreen McGrath is a web team supervisor for Seattle IT, but the team she supervises works strictly for Seattle City Light. She started at Seattle City Light in April of 1985, and after 31 years at the utility she moved to Seattle IT when the City of Seattle consolidated its information technology (IT) services. In the time she has spent at the City, she has seen massive changes in both its IT needs and its culture.


Web Team Supervisor Doreen McGrath recruiting for IBEW Local 77 at an event

“I supervise the City Light web team, and we support the internal City Light website and City Light’s external site. We build applications, run analytics, push out data for the outage map and things like that. It’s always interesting to watch the live analytics on the outage map; if there is even news of a windstorm, people just park themselves on the page.”

“My job is very interesting because almost every part of the utility has an internal or external web page. I’ve learned a lot about the company, from Skagit Tours to the Denny Substation or Environmental Affairs, because we’ve made pages for all of those different work groups,” said Doreen.

“Over the years, my job has evolved from mainframe programming to desktop object-oriented programming to multi-tiered application development. City Light’s first website was put up in the 1990s; when I became the working supervisor for the web team, I had to learn web development.”

“I’ve always liked the people at City Light. They really care about the City and they appreciate that City Light is publicly owned, not an investor owned utility. Working with the people at the utility is definitely the best part of the job for me.”

“Politics are also fun for me. I’ve been active in the Freedom Socialist Party for over thirty years. I’ve always wanted to change the world, but I know there is no way I can do it by myself. You have to organize people.”

“I’m a shop steward for IBEW Local 77, a union for electrical workers. They really fight for people. Nobody is perfect, but they are making great progress, particularly for a blue collar union. I lived through the bad old days, and I was a member of the Committee for Equal Rights for several years. We really pushed IBEW Local 77 to change the way they treat women and people of color.”

“I have seen a lot less overt sexism and racism since the time I was hired, but our workforce still isn’t as mixed as it should be. It needs to truly reflect society and have people of all backgrounds working together.”

Seattle City Light Employees Keep Their Information Locked Down

On the last day of 2016, The Washington Post reported that Russian hackers used an email “phishing” scam to attack the Burlington Electric Department in Vermont. The Post later followed up to say that the utility wasn’t actually a target of the scam, but a near-hack at a municipal utility was no surprise to City of Seattle IT professionals.

“That episode might’ve been a wake-up call to people outside the utility industry, but for those of us who work in critical infrastructure, it was just another example of a growing problem,” says Seattle IT Chief Information Security Officer Jeff Brausieck. “News stories like these are a good reminder to us all to maintain awareness and be extra careful not to open unknown or unexpected documents and web links received via email.”

Seattle City Light has long been aware of the threat posed by hacking. We have several strong cyber policies in place to protect City Light information and assets, such as:

  • Security measures: Firewalls, antivirus software and other security tools detect and block many types of cyber-attacks.
  • Password requirements: When setting up a password on a Seattle City Light computer, our employees can’t just “set it and forget it.” We’re required, by city and federal security standards, to periodically reset our passwords and keep them strong.
  • Information Security Awareness training: Our first line of defense is, of course, our City Light employees, who are trained to recognize and avoid phishy websites and emails, and to secure sensitive information in approved mechanisms like password-protected zip files.

These are just a few of the security measures Seattle City Light and the City of Seattle have in place to make sure that our, and our ratepayers’, Seattle City Light assets and information are kept out of hackers’ hands.

Seattle Chosen as Part of “What Works”

The City of Seattle is a leader in utilizing Open Data.  Websites like  data.seattle.gov  and performance.seattle.gov have demonstrated the City’s commitment and effective use of open data resources.

Performance Seattle home page.

Now, Bloomberg Charities just chose Seattle as one of the first eight cities to participate in the “What Works Cities” program.

In the next three years, Bloomberg Charities will give 100 cities part of a $42 million initiative aimed at helping cities develop data-driven projects that improve their communities.

Seattle will focus on integrating data and evidence into their contracts to achieve better results.

To learn more and apply to be a What Works City, visit www.WhatWorksCities.org

Tech Talk 2015-07-30 10:59:45

2014 was a year of accomplishment and transition for the Seattle Department of Information Technology.

The Annual Report also shows what DoIt has learned about internet access and use in Seattle

Seattle Channel took home many Emmy Awards. DoIT laid the groundwork for Seattle’s national leadership on our municipal Privacy Principles and Toolkits. We also transferred just over 55% of the City’s 102,000 Web pages into our Content Management System (CMS) and ramped up the migration to the cloud in Office 365.

You can read about these accomplishments and more in the City of Seattle Department of Information Technology 2014 Annual Report.

The projects, metrics and analytics that were either started or completed in 2014 you can find them: our digital cities survey, the technology access and adoption report, infrastructure enhancements, WMBE purchasing, uptime statistics and much more.

2014 was a year where DoIT moved forward with major projects that will take years for completion, while, at the same time, accomplishing some very distinguished goals within the calendar year. The City of Seattle Department of Information Technology 2014 Annual Report  is an user-friendly accounting of DoIt’s accomplishments, metrics and outlook for the future.

Shaping Seattle Lets You Swipe Through The Construction

Construction. Sometimes it seems like it’s happening everywhere in the City of Seattle.

A wide road view of active Seattle development projects that require Design Review

Now, with a new online map, you can easily keep up with every project on your desktop, laptop or mobile device.

Mayor Ed Murray announced Shaping Seattle: Buildings, a new interactive tool from the Department of Planning and Development. It’s an interactive, online map that provides locations and detailed information of active Seattle development projects that require Design Review.

An aerial view of projects in the South Lake Union area of Seattle.

Shaping Seattle: Buildings offers both road (blue) and aerial views (above).

The interactive map gives you many detailed options and opportunities to comment online and in person.

The app gives users the ability to:

  • View proposed building design and project status
  • Download project documents
  • Comment on the project
  • View upcoming public meetings about the project

You can click on any project and it brings up more detail including the timeline and any upcoming public meetings.

The app was designed using a mobile first approach and uses location awareness. The app was developed with flexibility to scale and add new map layers and additional data sets. It was developed by the IT team of Ken Schell, Julie Gephart, Reiko Feinstein and Tara Zaremba in collaboration with key business staff. From concept through implementation, the team delivered in just under 4 months.