Civic Tech Roundup: November 23, 2016

Seattle happenings

  • Check out yesterday’s recap of the Code for America Summit, a collaborative effort from Seattle IT, Seattle Police Department, and the Mayor’s Innovation Team. We continue to explore how we can bring more user-centered design to the services we provide as a city and the technology we use to support them.
  • Startup Week Seattle was as energetic as ever. For the first time, we presented a civic & social impact track with 5 events – three with City involvement. Approximately 150 people attended our events on edtech, civic tech, and inclusive design. Special thanks again to all our speakers and congratulations to all the successful track organizers, which focused on everything from “real talk” on diversity in tech to the evolving AR/VR landscape. Check out this recap of the civic startups panel on StateScoop and explore all the events and companies at seattle.startupweek.co.
  • On November 9, Open Seattle launched a new meetup, OpenIDEO, focused on user-centered design and design thinking. You do not have to have technical skills to participate. For more on this meetup or to attend the next event on December 7, visit the new outpost’s Meetup page.
  • Love Seattle? Love tech? You have until November 30 to apply to be an organizer of Open Seattle.

National news

  • A new app called Nexar is crowdsourcing traffic data in San Francisco and New York. The app is free; the company has $14.5 million in backing, with a business model around monetizing crowdsourced data. The founders say this data has value for insurance companies now and the makers of autonomous vehicles later. (GovTech)
  • The City of San Rafael has implemented a just-launched tool called ProudCity Service Center that embeds directly into Facebook, allowing users to find information, make payments, submit service requests, and provide feedback all from a simple initial interface. (GovTech)
  • Is the future of open data open source? A new product from GIS company Boundless believes so, switching up the traditional gov-SaaS business model, around licensing for individual users, to a model more focused on providing central support for agencies that operate at scale. It’s worth keeping an eye on as the civic tech sector and government in general wrestle with the tradeoffs between open-source and proprietary software. (GovTech)

New tools

  • Escape Your Bubble, a Chrome extension that interrupts your Facebook news feed with clearly marked stories from “the other side” (you can choose whether you wish to better understand Republicans or Democrats) is just one of several civic-minded apps and offline efforts to emerge in the immediate aftermath of the election. In “Coders Think They Can Burst Your Filter Bubble With Tech,” Emily Dreyfuss lists them all. (Wired)
  • Pittsburgh’s new Burgh’s Eye View app is an open-source tool that displays geocoded open data about service requests, arrests, code violations, and more. (CityInspired)

Must-reads
Is civic tech partisan? Harvard Kennedy School’s David Eaves says it can’t be. Code for America Founder Jen Pahlka says it fundamentally isn’t. FedScoop asked both sides of the aisle. Everyone seems to agree that good government technology isn’t a partisan issue – but 18F has taken a stand in small ways on things like gender and racial equality, and the civic tech movement is fundamentally oriented around the notion that government should be accountable to people. It’s unclear whether those values will carry forward, and there’s an active debate among thought leaders as to where the work can and should go from here.

  • In “Looking Forward: How Civic Technology Can Bridge the Divide,” AppCityLife CEO Lisa Abeyta urges civic technologists to stay focused on tangible outcomes. She writes: “We must continue to develop and share the technology and tools that can deliver better self-service access to the information and services we need within our own communities, urban or rural, that empower us to make informed decisions, interact with our government, and improve our own economic mobility.” (Inc.)
  • 18F’s Noah Kunin says he’s staying to work for Trump.”My oath to this country was not to a particular office, or person, and certainly not to a political party. It was to the Constitution and to the people (emphasis added)” (Medium)
  • Civic tech, government tech, and urban tech are often used interchangeably, but to many in the fields, they are not the same thing. In a post-election essay, “How Civic Tech Should Respond to Our New Reality,” Personal Democracy Media/Personal Democracy Forum founder Andrew Rasiej urges the civic tech community to stay focused on equity, even when that is perceived as political. “If [civic tech] is to ever fulfill its promise,” he writes, “our field must become a champion for decency, equity, and openness, and to do everything it can to fight bigotry, racism, and hate. The fear of openly talking about these subjects at Summit makes me also fear that the civic tech community has not yet developed enough to know when to recognize the difference between partisanship and an existential threat.” (Civicist)

On the horizon

  • From 911 to 311 to crisis hotlines, governments operate a lot of call centers. But could any of those services be automated? What about gamified? In “The Future of 311 could be weird,” David Dudley writes, “The ultimate goal, many 311 experts say, is to allow cities to forge a frictionless and spookily immersive e-commerce kind of relationship with its residents, complete with the ability to predict their wants and needs.” Quoting Andrew Nicklin from the Johns Hopkins Center for Government Excellence: “In an ideal universe, your interaction with government would be so seamless you don’t even know it’s government.” That ideal may not be far away. (CityLab)

Upcoming events

Community events with a civic tech component:

  • Wednesday, November 30, 7-8:30 pm @ University of Washington Kane Hall: “My Politics as a Technologist,” featuring civic technology legends Terry Winograd and Alan Borning. Free. (RSVP)
  • Wednesday, December 7, 6:00-9:00 pm @ Impact Hub Seattle: OpenIDEO meetup about civic engagement and employment in the age of automation. Free. (RSVP)
  • Wednesday, December 14, 6:00-9:00 pm @ Socrata: “Designing Open Seattle’s Role in Civic Tech Post-Election.” Free. (RSVP)
  • Wednesday, January 25, 10:00-11:30 am @ Impact Hub Seattle: “Community Cross-Pollinators: Technology + Social Impact.” Free. (RSVP)

If you’d like to suggest events or content, please email us at civic.tech@seattle.gov.

Human-Centered Design, Homelessness, and Civic Tech at the 2016 Code for America Summit

In early November, several City employees attended the Code for America Summit in Oakland, California. There were three representatives from Seattle IT (CTO Michael Mattmiller, Director of Applications Tara Duckworth, and myself, Civic Technology Advocate Candace Faber). We were joined by four members of the Mayor’s Innovation Team (Tina Walha, Rodrigo Sanchez, Adam Petkun, and Hannah Hill), and Sergeant Dan Nelson from the Seattle Police Department, who worked closely with Seattle’s Code for America Fellowship team this past year.

After the Summit, we got together to trade insights and lessons learned. Here are our collective key takeaways:

  • Sustainability matters. There are a lot of people who want to solve problems with technology – building the tools is the fun part – but afterwards, the tools need to be transferred, marketed, supported, sustained, and monitored to see if they are really being used.

    “We need to set up just enough documentation, and just enough process, to ensure [civic tech tools] can be sustained.”

  • Tech can lower barriers and increase engagement. We learned about tools being used in other cities to engage with the public, from a crisis text line in Anchorage that operates over SMS to the CityVoice app that allows people to chime in through short telephone surveys.

    “The statistics showed that they were reaching new people [with the surveys]. In Morro Bay, 74 percent of respondents said it was their first time engaging with government. In San Francisco, it was 58 percent. That seems timely given the Mayor’s focus on equitable engagement.”

    “Other cities are using text messages to deliver services. It’s so low-cost, so easy, and so common as a way for people to receive information, compared to drafting letters and stuffing envelopes.”

  • Government and constituents experience things differently. There is a natural tension between how government and the public experience our work. In government, we think about policy, then process, then services. For the user, it goes in the opposite direction.

    “It’s on us [in government] to think not just about the policy, but what the constituent experiences.”

    government-services-design

 

Design Thinking & Homelessness
We also had an extended discussion about design thinking and user-centered design, particularly in the context of homelessness. These are the insights we’d like to share:

  • It’s not about housing, it’s about having a home. Bureaucrats can get lost in the day-to-day of what we have to accomplish and forget that the person on the other side isn’t looking for “a unit of affordable housing,” but a place to live that meets their needs. If we don’t achieve that, we haven’t solved homelessness, no matter how much housing we build.
  • The “user experience” is critical. When a person seeks assistance from the government, what message does the government send? Are they a welcome guest or an unwanted visitor? Right now, it’s hard to imagine justifying these customer service touches as a budget line item. As one of our attendees said, “We don’t measure user experience as part of performance. It would change a lot of things if we did.”

    “When you walk into a Doubletree, it smells like a warm cookie, and then they just give you a warm cookie. How would it change things if you just gave people a warm cookie when they walked in seeking services? It’s a small thing, but it communicates that people are valued.”

  • Government should question whether its practices help or harm. People are not always willing to accept government services, but we rarely ask why. Perhaps it’s not true that they “just don’t want help” – it might be that what we are offering doesn’t help at all.

    “When we do intake, we say to people, ‘Tell me about your life story’ – and they are retraumatized every single time.”

  • We need to design City employees’ work around the people they serve. The hours for a typical homelessness outreach program are Monday through Friday, 7 am to 5 pm – not the hours when an outreach worker is likely to be most helpful to a person in crisis.
  • We have competition. In the private sector, competition fuels service. Companies don’t want their customers to go to a competitor. In government, we think we have a monopoly, but we don’t. If what we’re providing isn’t good enough, it impacts people’s lives. We are competing, and we want to do better.

    “In government, we think we have a monopoly. But we don’t. Our competitor is the street.”

Want to know more?
Below is a video of Sergeant Dan Nelson’s presentation with Code for America Fellow Meredith Hitchcock from the Summit main stage. You can find full video content from the Summit on the 2016 Summit Mainstage channel on YouTube.

Center for Digital Government Names Seattle Digital Cities Survey Winner

cdg16-digcities-winner-image_300x250The Center for Digital Government (CDG) today announced the winners of the 2016 Digital Cities Survey. Now in its 15th anniversary year, the annual survey recognizes cities using technology to improve citizen services, enhance transparency and encourage citizen engagement.  Seattle held steady at fourth place, the ranking it also received last year.

Seattle Information Technology (Seattle IT) was recognized for its recent consolidation. The new department is made up of 650 staff members that once worked across 15 city agencies and aims to create efficiencies and capacity for tech projects.

Other accomplishments include: the launch of a mobile-responsive website, a customer relationship management system to improve communications with residents and a data analytics platform for the police department. Efforts to work with the city’s tech community include the hiring of a civic technology advocate to engage with those individuals, a Hack the Commute program that developed prototype apps to help solve transportation issues, and a partnership with Code for America on the development of a crisis intervention app to connect people in need with social services.

In addition, an in-house innovation team is working on data-driven solutions to challenges in Seattle. While an open data program has been in place since 2010, the city’s “open by preference” policy was signed in February and calls on department heads to name “open data champions” to spearhead the release of information.  And for monitoring IT performance, Seattle developed TechStat, which is modeled off programs like the New York City Police Department’s CompStat, to facilitate internal transparency and monitor metrics for operations and projects.

Civic Tech Roundup: November 9, 2016

It’s the biggest news day of the year. Here are the civic tech stories not to be missed, even – especially – as we prepare for the new presidency.

Seattle happenings

  • Eight people on staff at the City of Seattle attended the annual Code for America Summit in Oakland, where Seattle Police Department Sergeant Dan Nelson presented alongside Code for America Seattle Fellowship team member Meredith Hitchcock about their new app, RideAlong. The app was developed in collaboration with front-line officers to help law enforcement provide appropriate responses to people in crisis on our streets. Their presentation is now online. (YouTube)

National news

  • This is the year elections went real-time, with VoteCastr providing free data via Slate and a Vice newscast. They predicted that Clinton would win swing states early on – before noon, leading to a surge in stocks and the peso that was later reversed. Most traditional media embargo early results information in the name of fairness, until polls close. However, in states like Washington where we vote by mail and often long before November 8, returns from other states are less and less likely to sway the final voters. As I write this, it seems clear that Votecastr’s methodology was flawed, but there’s no doubt that conversations about data (not just the data themselves) are influencing our elections more than ever. (Recode, NYTimes)
  • The biggest civic tech event of the year is the Code for America Summit. This year, it tackled big structural issues in the field, including procurement and diversity. We’ll post a recap next week; in the meantime, you can check out the highlights on Twitter at #cfasummit.

 

New tools

  • I hope you didn’t miss “Electionland,” the real-time map of voter issues from Google and Pitch Interactive, which grouped searches nationwide around key topics and showed where search spikes were the greatest. Read more about the project in Wired.
  • Last week’s biggest civic tech news drop was the launch of Code.gov, which open-sources federal government websites and other custom tools, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs’ vets.gov. It’s connected to the United States’ first-ever federal source code policy, which pushes the government to operate more on open-source and to publish at least 20 percent of custom code to the public. You can browse code, view repos, offer feedback on the API’s, and even contribute via  Code.gov’s GitHub.

 

Must-reads

  • “We don’t call that a revolving door, we call it being a citizen,” says DJ Patil, the United States’ first-ever Chief Data Scientist, about techies moving between the private and public sectors. Listen to the entire interview on Recode Decode.
  • In a panel discussion at this year’s Code for America Summit on “Working Together to Address Racial Disparities”, Kristian Lum from the Human Rights Data Analysis Group showed clearly how data-driven, predictive policing leads to disparate enforcement of drug laws in the Bay Area. This results in more arrests of people of color, even though we know that drug use is consistent across racial groups. “Technology has the potential to reinforce the biases that already exist in the data,” Lum says.  Worth a listen.
  • The Center for Data Enterprise published its Open Data Transition Report on October 24th, presenting a set of recommendations for the incoming U.S. President on how to build on the achievements of the last 8 years. The interactive site allows you to download the full report or explore the recommendations one-by-one. (Open Data Transition Report)

 

On the horizon

  • A new president. And, very likely, efforts by the sitting president to solidify the work this administration has done to open up data and modernize use of technology across the federal government through initiatives like the U.S. Digital Service and 18F. As Popular Science put it, “Modern technology is amazing and no one running for president understands it” – in contrast to our current commander-in-chief.  The faster technology moves and the more it becomes part of our lives, the more essential it will be to have a government that gets it. How will the next administration handle “cyber”? We still don’t know – but we do know that this current White House has a plan for passing along the Presidential Twitter account. One would hope the other elements of the national civic technology infrastructure have a solid succession plan as well. But it is worth noting, as always, that technology is just tools, and they can be used just as readily to perpetuate injustice as to address it.

 

Upcoming events 

Events with official City involvement: 

Community events with a civic tech component:

If you’d like to suggest events or content, please email us at civic.tech@seattle.gov.

Seattle, Airbnb agree to MOU for natural disaster, emergency response

Today, the City of Seattle and Airbnb announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will help the City identify and activate Airbnb hosts to offer free accommodations during a disaster or other emergency. The agreement also connects Airbnb with the Office of Emergency Management’s (OEM) AlertSeattle system, to disseminate public safety alerts to hosts and people visiting Seattle.

“Today we are announcing a new, innovative partnership that will help people during an emergency and make Seattle more resilient,” said Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas. “This collaboration between the City and Airbnb makes our emergency response stronger, and improves our ability to help those who are affected by storms, earthquakes, and other emergencies. We are especially grateful to the Airbnb hosts willing to open their space to their neighbors and visitors in a time of need.”

The MOU was signed between OEM (which is an affiliated office of the Seattle Police Department) and Airbnb. The agreement allows OEM to work directly with Airbnb Disaster Response to arrange for free accommodations for displaced people or emergency responders in need of housing. The program will rely on Airbnb hosts who have volunteered to participate.

“Opening doors to people who need a place to stay is in the spirit of the Airbnb community,” said Airbnb’s Head of Disaster Response and Relief, Kellie Bentz. “When Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, 1,400 Airbnb hosts in New York opened their doors for those left stranded. The generosity of our community inspired our team to build a worldwide disaster response initiative. This agreement with the Seattle Office of Emergency Management is an exciting next step forward in this commitment.”

The agreement also calls for OEM to work with Airbnb to provide emergency-related information for hosts and guests through the AlertSeattle system, increases awareness of local hazards and emergency procedures for guests and hosts, and creates opportunities for hosts to join disaster preparedness trainings provided by the City. Full text of the MOU can be found here.

The post Seattle, Airbnb agree to MOU for natural disaster, emergency response appeared first on Mayor Murray.

Civic Tech Roundup: October 26, 2016

Seattle happenings

  • WeCount’s new sock boxes take the online platform for matching community needs to resources out into the community via drop-boxes for socks–a common need for people experiencing homelessness.
  • This past Sunday, the Municipal League released a personalized ballot guide that will show you all the candidates and measures on your ballot, along with which organizations have endorsed what and whom. Enter any address in King County. If you don’t live here and just want to check it out, try using our address at the Seattle Municipal Tower: 700 5th Ave, Seattle, 98104.
  • King 5 just covered the launch of the Seattle Trails App developed by the Seattle Trails Alliance, which we wrote about last week. An Android version is coming soon!
  • ICYMI: The City of Seattle launched a new Public Records Request Center last week, making it easier than ever to request public records, understand the process, and see what records are most commonly requested.
  • It’s not too late to catch the final evenings of 9e2, which reprises the groundbreaking Bell Labs “9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering” held 50 years ago in New York. There’s an exhibition on the third floor of King Street Station, evening events there, in Georgetown, and at Benaroya Hall, and a full day of events this Saturday culminating in a closing party. The event is sponsored by several of our local tech companies.

National news

  • “Two of the largest cloud-based companies in the government technology market, GovDelivery and Granicus, have merged into a single firm,” writes GovTech magazine. That’s a big deal for the sector. GovDelivery is behind such apps as IRS2Go (did you even know the IRS had an official app?); Granicus works primarily with legislative data.
  • The Sunlight Foundation, which will soon be closing its doors, hosted its final TransparencyCamp in Cleveland, Ohio. Fortunately, they have published an open-source guide to hosting your own TransparencyCamp on GitHub and invite others to “fork” their unconference for any issue that needs an open-source approach to be solved.
  • The Intercept published a lengthy piece called “Open Data Projects Are Fueling the Fight Against Police Misconduct” that offers an overview of local and national efforts to collect, curate, and publish police data. It highlights a number of civic technology applications developed for the specific purpose of police accountability.

New tools

  • BIMI (Because I missed it last time): On October 6, the White House announced the launch of 29 new digital tools and the expansion of the Opportunity Project to facilitate collaboration between government, developers, and communities. One highlight you can use right away is the Department of Labor’s OpenSkills API. Learn more about the project–or get involved!–at dataatwork.org.
  • Activist group DemandProgress released a new tool called EveryCRSReport.com that opens up the publicly funded research provided by the Congressional Research Service to Congress. According to the Sunlight Foundation, the searchable database contains more than 8,200 reports on everything from climate change to public trust in law enforcement.
  • Nurx, an app that allows users to access birth control more easily, is now available in Washington State.

Must-reads

  • FastCoexist calls the open data/smart cities movement “the most boringly named revolution in history.” (Fair.) Naming examples from Mexico to Sweden, author Alexander Starrit cites the many ways technology, data, and openness have improved the governance of cities in ways that are both invisible (better trash pickup, greener parks) and explicitly visible (the value and distribution of government contracts and foreign aid). But the utopian language – “how to build the perfect city” and “once we measure everything” highlights the fact that the revolution will be digitized, and the tension between what’s left of people’s desire for privacy with the need to be seen in order to be served by the digital systems.
  • In Wired, Ted Alcorn, suggests that open data is key to reducing gun violence. As an example, the article cites work done in Chicago to identify the source of illegal guns – many of which were coming from nearby suburbs, prompting other mayors to take action. This is a great case in point for government officials who worry about being held accountable for problems that show up in the data but are beyond their local control. By revealing precisely where the problems are, data empower others to take action, too.
  • President Obama had a mic-drop moment during his speech at the Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh earlier this month, which has been quoted all over the tech press: “Government will never run the way Silicon Valley runs because, by definition, democracy is messy. This is a big, diverse country with a lot of interests and a lot of disparate points of view. And part of government’s job, by the way, is dealing with problems that nobody else wants to deal with.” He goes on to point out that, while government has to worry about unintended externalities and affordability in a way that companies don’t, he sees tremendous value in bringing data and technology to the work of government.

 On the horizon

  • Will virtual reality perpetuate racism? In “Confronting the Assumption of Whiteness in Digital Spaces,” Kara Melton argues that invisible layers of whiteness–wrongly perceived as being neutral–shape how new technologies are built. This is not so different, I would add, from how film photography idealized a (white) skin tone from the 1940’s on, and did not change until demand rose from the makers of furniture and chocolate whose tones were similar to darker human skin. Ultimately, technology helped to solve this problem on film, but then it showed up again in webcams and digital photography, as summarized in this video from Vox. Will the same thing happen in our new digital spaces? Or, as Melton asks, will we be able to address it now?
  • In an op-ed in TechCrunch, European thought leader Giuseppe Porcaro challenges us to think about apps for democracy in the post-www era. Could technology generate a new populism? Some say the 24/7 news cycle already has; Porcaro points to the fact that there are already real-world political parties springing up around the concept of no-filter digital deliberation (beyond the DAO). He notes: “The Five Stars Movement became the second largest group in Parliament in Italy after the national elections in 2013. The Pirate Party in Germany is promoting the concept of ‘liquid democracy,’ with some success, as a hybrid system whereby an electorate vests voting power in delegates rather than in representatives.” Provocative? Crazy? Perhaps. But check out companies like iCitizen, which enable real-time tracking of elected officials and issue-based polling, as well as Seattle-based companies like consider.it (which powered the DAO discussion above) and Swurveys (which is being used by local campaigns this election season). We’ll be talking more about the future of political technology during Startup Week Seattle in November–stay posted.

Upcoming events 

Events with official City involvement: 

Community events with a civic tech component:

If you’d like to suggest events or content, please email us at civic.tech@seattle.gov.

Happy Cyber Security Awareness Month

October is National Cyber Security Month. How will you celebrate?

Seattle IT put together some simple, proactive steps to protect personal, medical, financial, and other sensitive information online.

Take these steps to prevent misuse, abuse, and unauthorized disclosure of your information.

• Regularly review and set security and privacy settings for online accounts to your comfort level. Be aware how much you are sharing and with whom. Be sure to do the same for accounts of children and vulnerable family members.

• Keep application, system, and firmware up to date on all PCs, smartphones, and tablets. Software patches and updates often include bug fixes and enhancements to protect against viruses and vulnerabilities.

• Install anti-virus/malware software on all devices, and keep it updated.

• Enforce the use of strong passwords, passphrases, or PINs to access all accounts, devices, and access points. Many devices and online accounts offer additional authentication options (such as Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook, and others) where, in addition to your password, a second authentication step can be used as an added layer of security (such as sending an access code via text message, a biometric check such as fingerprint, or a hardware token).

Cyber Security Awareness Month proclamation

City Launches Public Records Request Center

As part of the City of Seattle’s ongoing commitment to transparency and to make the process of obtaining public records as easy as possible, the City is launching the Public Records Request Center. This online public portal offers constituents one system for submitting and tracking public disclosure requests, downloading records, monitoring the status of their previously submitted requests, communicating with public disclosure officers, and making payments. It also identifies commonly requested records, and directs constituents to records that are readily available on Seattle.gov.

“Since the beginning of my administration I have pushed for an innovative, accountable City government that delivers on its public commitments smartly and transparently, while harnessing the power of technology,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “The Public Records Request Center delivers on this commitment, ensuring the City has a consistent and efficient process and making public records more accessible to the entire community we serve.”

Public Records Request CenterOver the last several years, the City has taken major steps to improve and streamline management of the public disclosure process. In early 2016, the City initiated the first phase of the project, launching the Public Records Request Center specifically for records held by the Seattle Police Department, as nearly 70 percent of the approximately 8,800 annual requests for City records are for records held by SPD.

The City’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services managed the second phase of the implementation on behalf of all other departments and offices, with a soft launch on Sept. 28. This new system is a cornerstone of our efforts to make Public Records Act compliance a sustainable line of business for City agencies while also creating a more efficient and consistent experience for our customers.

Many public records are readily available on Seattle.gov. Some records are not automatically posted online for many reasons, including that they may not be of widespread interest, they are simply too large or they contain confidential information. To assist customers with their search for records, we’ve collected commonly requested record types with links to where they can be obtained online when available. The City also posts a wealth of information on data.seattle.gov.

The post City Launches Public Records Request Center appeared first on Mayor Murray.

City encourages residents to prepare for weekend weather

With high-winds and rain predicted for Seattle and much of the Pacific Northwest this weekend, it is recommended that residents take extra precautions at home and when out. Residenst should defer traveling during the storm, avoid and report downed power lines and trees, and be cautious near areas experiencing flooding.

Latest modeling shows a chance for heavy winds to arrive in the Seattle area as early as 5 PM on Saturday, October 15 and lasting throughout the evening. For the most current weather updates please visit the National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Office, Impact Briefing for Seattle. For up to date information impacting the City of Seattle please visit or Alert.Seattle.gov.

Storm Safety Information
• Please call 911 to report downed lines, do not touch or attempt to remove lines that have fallen during the storm.

• If you lose power at home, please call (206) 684-3000 to report the outage or call the Power Outage Hotline at (206) 684-7400 to hear a recorded message with power restoration updates.

• Because of the timing of tomorrow’s storm, there may be challenges with travel throughout the city tomorrow evening and Sunday morning.

• For individuals using life-sustaining and medical equipment, please contact and register with your utility company. For more information call (206) 684-3020.

• Remember to treat intersections that are impacted by power outages as four-way stops.

• Check the Metro and Sound Transit websites for any impacts to your transit routes.

• Maintain gutters, downspouts, rain barrels, private culverts by keeping them clean, flowing and directed away from properties and hillsides.

• Keep storm drains free of leaves and other debris to prevent streets from flooding. Be sure to stay out of the road when raking.

• All Seattle Parks and Recreation grass athletic fields, including West Seattle Stadium, will be closed through the weekend. Most importantly, please remember to safe and use extreme caution outdoors. Parks officials encourage residents to avoid Seattle parks entirely this weekend due to the high-winds.

• Seattle Parks has cancelled programs and activities in parks across the system. For the most up-to-date information please visit seattle.gov/parks

• Generally, we want to remind you that if you do lose power, keep grills, camping stoves and generators outside. Fuel burning appliances are sources of carbon monoxide, a dangerous and poisonous gas.

• Have an emergency preparedness kit ready to help you get through until power is restored

• Storms can create a storm surge impacting high-tide. For information pertaining to tides visit NOAA.

• A temporary, emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness will be open at the Seattle Center Fisher Pavilion – near 2nd & Thomas, south of Key Arena. The co-ed adult shelter will open on Saturday and Sunday from 7 PM to 7AM. This shelter can accommodate 100 people.

• King County Shelter for adult males has expanded capacity to serve 50 additional men Friday through Tuesday, 10/14 – 10/18. The King County Shelter is located at the King County Administration Building at 500 4th Avenue in Seattle. The shelter opens at 7 PM.

• The City Hall Co-ed shelter at 600 4th Ave in Seattle will expand capacity Friday through Tuesday 10/14 – 10/18 with an emphasis on accommodating women seeking shelter. The shelter is open from 7PM to 6AM.

• Sign up and use AlertSeattle at alert.seattle.gov for up-to-date information from the City of Seattle

• The City will have additional staff and crews available throughout the evening and weekend to respond to emergencies as they arise. The Seattle Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center will be activated throughout the weekend.

Additional preparedness information can be found at: Take Winter by Storm – www.takewinterbystorm.org or What to do to make it through – http://makeitthrough.org/

The post City encourages residents to prepare for weekend weather appeared first on Mayor Murray.

Civic Tech Roundup: October 12, 2016

Seattle happenings

  • Yesterday, the Seattle Trails Alliance released a new app for iOS called Seattle Trails. The app, which got its start at the AT&T Mobile Parks & Rec Hackathon back in March, shows precise locations of trails in Seattle Parks as well as what kind of trail they are–gravel, bridge, paved, trail–and allows users to give feedback directly in the app. The app was developed by volunteers led by Eric Mentele, Theodore Abshire, and David Wolgemuth, with support from Seattle Parks Trails Manager Chukundi Salisbury. Thanks to volunteer Craig Morrison, an Android version is also in development. Ironically, on my way to the event yesterday, I followed Google Maps rather than the Seattle Trails app and found myself at a private “trailhead” I would have had to spend hours bushwhacking to get up to the real trailhead for the St. Mark’s Greenbelt. Next time, I’ll use the app! You can download it here.
  • Rebekah Bastian, VP of Product at Zillow, wrote an op-ed in the Huffington Post, “How Tech Communities Can Create Social Change.” She shares the steps she took to learn about homelessness before designing a solution and then highlights the Community Pillar program that emerged, through which 20,000 landlords and property managers have signed up to rent to people who might not otherwise find housing in the Seattle market. “We in the tech community have a unique opportunity to use our skills, resources and passion to create change,” she writes. “And with that opportunity comes responsibility – responsibility to better the communities that are supporting our growth.”
  • In “Seattle’s Virtual Road to Transcendence,” Seattle Weekly explores how our city’s VR/AR developers are breaking ground by going beyond traditional gaming to applications of virtual and augmented reality with potential to “radically transform psychology, medicine, therapy, education, policy-making, social and environmental justice, storytelling, and, ultimately, the limits of human consciousness and perception.”
  • Last weekend, at Zoohackathon at the Woodland Park Zoo, hackers took on various challenges related to wildlife trafficking, including product identification, fundraising for conservation organizations, gaming to raise public awareness of the issue, and, for the winning app, using crowdsourced data to identify the reasons for loss of orangutan habitat. As part of the event, hackers got to meet several of the Zoo’s “animal ambassadors,” experience a night tour, and attend Brew at the Zoo. This was the first global Zoohackathon, with six cities around the world participating. Check out the pre-event story on NPR and summaries in GeekWire and the Zoo’s blog.

 

National news

 

New tools

 

Must-reads

  • Civic technology is breaking out of the GovTech world: TechCrunch published “Creating a New Architecture of Government through Tech and Innovation,” a summary of more than 50 interviews conducted by Harvard’s Hollie Gilman and Georgetown’s Jessica Gover. They conclude: “Building a twenty-first-century government requires a governance structure that enables an internal ecosystem of innovation that invests in technology, better use of data, and partnerships that can measure and deliver results.” Their full report, “The Architecture of Innovation: Institutionalizing Innovation in Federal Policymaking” (launched at the Oct 6 event mentioned above), is well worth a read.
  • The Center for Open Data Enterprise published a new report based on a series of roundtables organized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy earlier this year. The report addresses key issues in open data, including privacy, data quality, sharing research data, and public-private collaboration. Read the full report or check out this summary in the Huffington Post.
  • This is a must-listen rather than a must-read. In “Blame Game,” episode 8 of the Revisionist History podcast, Malcolm Gladwell breaks down the Toyota “sudden acceleration” scandal that resulted in the recall of 10 million vehicles due to mistrust of the cars’ technology. Spoiler alert: The technology was not to blame. The story has insights for consumers as well as policymakers struggling to understand how technology works and how to ensure it serves the public interest.

 

On the horizon

 

Upcoming events 

Events with official City involvement: 

Community events with a civic tech component:

If you’d like to suggest events or content, please email us at civic.tech@seattle.gov.