City of Seattle Citizens Technology Advisory Board (CTAB) – Sept. 8th minutes
Topics covered: The group heard updates from Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller; a discussion on Pay By Phone Parking from Mary Catherine Snyder of SDOT; a discussion of Comcast Internet Essentials low income program from Kathy Putt of Comcast; reminder on the Comprehensive Plan; a Privacy Committee rAn eport from Beryl Fernandes; Amy Hirotaka on the Cable and Broadband Committee; Jose Vasquez on the Digital Inclusion Committee; and an E-Gov Committee report from Joneil Sampana.
This meeting was held: September 8, 2015; 6:00-8:05 p.m., Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2750
Audio recording of CTAB meetings are available at: http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/CTTAB/podcast/cttab.xml
Board Members: Nourisha Wells, Jose Vasquez, Beryl Fernandes, Joneil Sampana, Karia Wong, Amy Hirotaka, Iga Fikayo Keme, Dana Lewis
Public: Christopher Sheats, Lee Colleton, Lloyd Douglas, Dorene Cornwell, Henok Kidane (Open Seattle), Joseph Williams (Seattle Seniors), Dan Moulton, Dan Stiefel, Greta Hotopp, Sarah Trowbridge, Luke Swart (Open Seattle), Carlton Green (Open Seattle), Kathy Putt (Comcast), Annmarie, Darryl Banks
Staff: Michael Mattmiller, Bruce Blood, Vicky Yuki, Derrick Hall, Cass Magnuski, Mary Catherine Snyder (SDOT), Aurlee Gamboa (City Light)
30 In Attendance
Meeting was called to order by Nourisha Wells.
Nourisha Wells: We’ll do introductions, then agenda approval.If you’ve had a chance to look over the agenda, and there are copies of the agenda at the front–make sure you sign in. We will move to approve the agenda or make any changes. Is there a motion to approve the agenda?
Amy Hirotaka: I move to approve the agenda.
Nourisha Wells: We will now open the floor to discussion.
Beryl Fernandes: I want to add a motion on the TMF criteria.
Nourisha Wells: Okay. Any other discussion?
Christopher Sheats: I need two or three minutes to voice concern over SDOT’s tracking technology.
Nourisha Wells: You can do that during public comment or announcements. Any other comments on the agenda? Can we have a motion to approve the agenda and to accept the amendment?
Jose Vasquez: I so move.
Nourisha Wells: The agenda has been approved. A reminder: When you have a comment, a question, or an announcement, make sure you state your name for the minutes and also for the podcasts. So be sure to speak up so we can hear you. First up on the agenda is our update from Michael Mattmiller.
CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER MICHAEL MATTMILLER UPDATE
Michael Mattmiller: Good evening, everyone, and thanks for coming out this evening. I have a handful of updates for you, and I’m going to start off with some exciting news. A couple of weeks ago, the City of Seattle was awarded by Governing Institute their 2015 Citizen Engagement Award of the Year, specifically for our open data program. So thank you, not only to Bruce Blood for his efforts in that category, but I’m so thrilled that there is a number of folks here from Open Seattle this evening. When we think about recognition that we get for making data available. It’s only as good as those who actually use it to produce meaningful things that improve the quality of life for our Seattle residents. So, I really do applaud your commitment and dedication to leveraging that information, to helping give us feedback to make that program better, and for using your free time to help make Seattle a great place to use those specific technologies. Thank you very much.
In terms of other things going on, it’s a busy time for us in DoIT. We are making great progress with our next generation data center. Since the last time we spoke, we have engaged the facility to use as our backup site in Eastern Washington to provide redundancy as we move into our new consolidated data center environment.
We’re also making progress with our 0365 migration and still look to be on track to complete email migration by the end of the year.
And then we have a few other projects that we haven’t much talked about, the first being IT consolidation. Last we spoke, the Mayor had just announced his intention to consolidate IT professionals working across fifteen different executive branch departments into a new Seattle Information Technology Department. And we’ve been having a number of meetings with staff that are in scope for consolidation. We’ve been having great conversations about what consolidation means, the benefits we expect to derive, and timelines and plans. One hallmark of the consolidation approach that’s very important to me is that we hadn’t come to the employees of the City with a fully baked plan of how exactly how we’re going to run consolidation. Instead, we made this a transparent initiative. We’ve made this an engaging process. And we have so far outlined six transition teams that will be engaging staff across the City to help plan out the new department. Those transition teams include, for example, the HR transition team that are helping to develop the approach to workplace practices and helping us to understand how to run the consolidation process. The finance transition team is help to find things like charge-backs and other administrative practices. The culture and values team is coming together to help think about what is it we need to instill in this department to make sure it’s a place where IT professionals want to work and stay and build out. Those efforts are moving forward and we expect to send the legislation to affect consolidation in the Mayor’s budget, which will be translated to Council on September 28. The effective date for the new department in that legislation will be April 6, 2016.
A few other things going on: The Digital Equity Initiative. Since the last time we spoke, we were pleased to release our page one report outlining the six goals that were important to the community as we think about how to make sure that everyone in Seattle is getting access to leveraging the benefits of technology in our high tech society. The Phase One report outlined a number of action strategies for how we can achieve our goals. And so our next step is to begin digging into those action strategies, identify what we can most affect, given the resources available to us. And then to hopefully advocate for some additional resources. And we look forward to kicking off that work soon.
Vicky Yuki: We do have only four copies of the report left. I know some of you got copies in the mail, but if you would like some, we can order some more. Also, you can still get it online [linked at Seattle.gov/digital-equity].
Michael Mattmiller: On the broadband front, since the last time we talked–in June, we talked about the results of the broadband study. As much as we would like to build out a municipal broadband system, we looked under the couch cushions and couldn’t find $360 million. But what we’ve been doing since the last time we spoke is we’ve had a number of conversations with our federal elected officials, our Members of Congress, and the delegation of our Senators to understand what their broadband priorities are and what types of funding opportunities might be available to us. We’ve also talked across the region with other cities about how they’re looking at the broadband challenge. And on Thursday of this week, I will be meeting with the Lake Washington Mayors Association. It’s all the mayors of the cities across the Sound area that touch Lake Washington, to talk about broadband and the challenges of how we might move forward. It is worth noting that in the year or so since the Mayor outlined his broadband strategy, we’ve gone from having about 20,000 homes with access to gigabit speed broadband to about 140,000 homes today. And on top of that, Century Link, on August 17, announced that they are starting to sell cable television service, in part because of building out to Seattle area homes. While 140,000 homes is not the full range of Seattle households–I think the number is 270,000–we are making progress towards competitive, affordable and equal gigabit broadband options.
And I’m very excited about a project Bruce Blood is going to be talking to you about a little bit later called our Interactive Broadband Map. One of the challenges we have with broadband right now is, while I think we can all agree that we’d like better service, faster service, cheaper service, we don’t have a lot of data specifically on what that looks like across Seattle neighborhoods. So, on Queen Anne, what is the current experience in terms of the cost, in terms of what our providers are delivering versus what they promise. And then how is it different in Rainier Beach and how is it different in Columbia City, and my new neighborhood, West Seattle. And so the Interactive Broadband Map that Bruce will talk to you about is going to hopefully give us some additional data to better target our efforts and understand our opportunities for success.
On the Privacy front, I’m very excited to see a lot of the work that we’ve been investing over the past few months come to fruition. And by that, I mean the Council passed by resolution a set of privacy principles back in March that give us an ethical framework to think about the public’s personal information and how we collect and use it here ion government. And since then, Ginger Armbruster, who many of you have met in her role as our privacy program manager, has been working with departments across the City with our external advisory group, on standing up a privacy program–designing a privacy program–that will help take those principles and turn them into something actionable, that we can educate City staff about how to think about data collection, how to think about data use, and how to think about getting ahead of projects before they are announced, to make sure that we have the right consideration around privacy, the right risk identification, and to put the right mitigation in place. For next steps on that account, we will be at a full Council briefing on October 5, to talk about the privacy program that we’ve developed and the timeline for implementation. I know a number of folks read the Crosscut article this morning on the e.cyclical system in SDOT and it’s a very interesting scenario for what we think about what we’re trying to affect with the privacy program, it’s exactly the type of thing where we would have liked to have been involved before the system was purchased. Not because it would have meant that we wouldn’t have purchased the system, but it would have been great to have had the conversation at that time about what the technology is, and what are the privacy risks and how do we mitigate it. SDOT didn’t do anything wrong in their procurement this cycle, they didn’t miss a step, it’s that when they procured it, we didn’t have a privacy program in place. We had developer privacy principles. But going forward, for example, one of the ways that we would make a purchase like this is we would have a gate as part of our technology procurement review process, something called MITI process here in the City, and there would have been questions about what are the potential privacy hacks, and this system would have triggered a more in depth review that Ginger Armbruster, or a member of her team, would have run to make sure that we properly considered the risks and mitigated any potential harms. In the case of the e.cyclical system, we learned about the system a couple of months ago and we immediately intervened, reached out to SDOT and said let’s have a conversation about what the system does, how it works, and make sure that we really thought about what information we’d collect, what privacy risks exist, and how do we mitigate them. Through a series of conversations with SDOT staff, through a series of conversations with the vendor, we identified a set of controls we would expect to be in place with a system like this to minimize the risks that the public’s information could be re-identified or used beyond simply understanding traffic flow. And we feel, based on the controls described to us by the vendor and the assurances we received, that there is minimal privacy risk to the public. Now, conversations are not sufficient and so we have talked to this vendor and we are requiring them to go out and get a third party audit to validate that the controls described to us are not only in place, but that they are operating effectively. And we are continuing to work with vendors to scope and perform that audit.
Beryl Fernandes: Just a story from the field: Somebody, I guess maybe ten years ago, had applied for SPU’s low income subsidy. Somebody came to their door wanting to install for them a free toilet. The plumber arrived with paperwork which showed this person’s very detailed financial information. That guy was horrified. This happened a couple of months ago. This was a person of color, lower income, and he said, “I couldn’t believe it! Why would the City give it to someone who was going to do the installation?” I don’t know if you are going to get to that granular level in your controls, but that would be something to consider.
Michael Mattmiller: It would be worth understanding more about it. To whatever extent that’s appropriate to share, I would love that scenario to work with.
Beryl Fernandes: Sure!
Michael Mattmiller: I would be happy to answer more questions in a minute. The one thing I will end with, is, for those at the table, I’ll pass them around the room here. I’m happy to share with you the City of Seattle Department of Information Technology 2014 Report. It took a little bit longer this year, as you might imagine with being new and getting used to the department. But also, it’s been a few years since we put out a report. But I want to make sure everyone here has a copy of the report so we can talk about what it is we’ve been doing within DoIT. As you can see, in the report, that a number of achievements that we’ve been talking about are really thanks in part to the great work that CTAB does, what you guided us to do, we do call that out here in several places. So thank you again for all of your efforts.
Jose Vasquez: Is there a section in here or online where we can see how the City of Seattle is doing as far as diversity in employment numbers? Because that’s something I personally would be interested in seeing in self-reflection of the City.
Michael Mattmiller: It is not in this report, but earlier this year, SDHR (Department of Human Resources) put out an equity study in terms of the City’s workforce. And the results were very interesting. The good news–and I don’t have the numbers in front of me, I’ll come back with them next month–is that DoIT is more diverse in it’s staffing than the technology industry here in Seattle. The downside to this is that the technology industry here in Seattle is not very diverse. So, while on one hand I can say it’s great that we’re better than the average, the average is really not sufficient. We recognize that as a lens we really need to look at, when we look at our staffing needs, we consider that through RSJI, and when we looked at the process of identifying who is in scope for IT consolidation in the City, we applied the RSJI lens to make sure that we created an organization not exclusionary based on race. We also found that within DoIT, there was pay equity across diversity lines in all areas except for IT professional CD band where we saw potential disparity that we need to spend more time on for diverse individuals. What that means is … well I’ll bring more information next month.
Chrisopher Sheats: Are you taking off soon? Will you not be here for the comments?
Michael Mattmiller: I do need to take off soon. I know, Christopher, that you mentioned concern with the E.Cyclical system. Would you like to share that?
Chrisopher Sheats: For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an unemployed masters student, studying information security. I intern with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). I’m on the board of directors of the Seattle Privacy Coalition, and I also educate lawyers, activists and journalists, so I’m a little knowledgeable about how serious this is. A few months ago, I raised concern at CTAB about the connected car seat technology and about technology’s capability because Seattle’s residents will not be informed if Seattle government and Seattle leaders are not informed. Today, Crosscut reporter David Kroman published an article entitled, “Seattle Installs New System to Track Individual Drivers,” which concerns a related parking identification tracking technology. There are a few problems that I have with Seattle’s interpretation of what it considers to be a surveillance system and how it’s unable to safeguard its residents from intrusive surveillance, even in light of its recently adopted privacy principles. Some of the facts of the system has Seattle government, including its Chief Technology Officer, doesn’t consider this to be a surveillance system despite the manufacturer calling it a tracking system. History proves that tracking systems easily become surveillance systems. Just look at our cellphone network. SDOT is free to pursue infrastructure improvements without approval from the City Council and even called this project ‘business as usual.’ The public was not brought into the conversation before the deployment of this tracking technology. A privacy assessment was not performed. The tracking system records when and where an identifier exists, including personal cars, personal cellphones. And markers such as speed and distance and behavior are analyzed. Seattle does not receive raw data, and so the claims that they do not store raw data, despite there being no audit for the system. Washington State Supreme Court (SIC) recently unanimously passed a bill restricting the use of Sting Rays and other surveillance devices that mimic cell towers because of the privacy implications. The tracking system was something that was already in place and it’s privacy invasive capabilities were later upgraded to include these wireless surveillance mechanisms. The data is collected 24/7, 365, including nearby homes and workplaces that are within reach of monitored intersections. The data is transmitted to a third party, but we do not know if the data is encrypted at rest before it is transmitted or if the transmission is encrypted. SDOT Public Information Officer Norm Mah was quoted in the article, saying the City receives no raw data from the readers, which they say means it cannot trace information back to individuals for individual devices. Mah compared it to a bar code on a baseball ticket. The system knows you’re there but not who you are. The data is fed into the readers. It’s scrubbed, meaning that it’s analyzed and aggregated into a lump of useful information absent of discrete data. The metaphor, itself, is wrong, and the explanation is not a true presentation of reality. We do not carry baseball tickets with us everywhere we go, 24/7, and they are not scanned every time we go through an intersection. The public knows that American businesses do not have the ability to keep collected data safe from governments, be it the American government or the Chinese government. It would appear that employees of Seattle forget their history. Do not forget that in 1943, census-related Japanese Americans data was released. Congress passed saying that they could release the census data so that they could detain Americans of Japanese descent. Seattle has no business collecting and tracking Seattle residents’ physical location data and handing it over to third parties, because they cannot control how it is used once it’s collected. Thank you.
Michael Mattmiller: Thank you, Chris. You make a number of really great points there. And you’re right. Going forward privacy impact assessments–thinking about privacy risks before systems go live–is critical to standing up our privacy program. Some of the things we’ve learned about the E.Cyclical system since they came to our attention, just to give you a quick sense of the high level data flow, when you pass by one of the E.Cyclical readers, it does capture your MAC address to understand at a point in time how a car is traveling through the system. Once it is read, your MAC address is encrypted and transmitted. It’s not stored locally. When it gets to E.Cyclical solution. the MAC is decrypted and immediately salted and hashed. So once that happens and it gets written out, your MAC does not live in a decrypted state at rest. It’s always either encrypted in transit or salted and hashed and then written out until the point where it can be determined how you’re crossing through.
Chrisopher Sheats: What cyphers is it using?
Michael Mattmiller: That is a good question. I apologize. I know it’s a Shaw 256 based cypher, but specifically, I am not sure. In terms of them being able to go back and identify, the vendor has expressed to us that they do not maintain the salt. So it is not possible for us to take the MAC address, then go back and look for that information at a later point in time. This is what has been communicated to us. Do I have the audit to say this has been observed and tested? That’s what we’re requiring the vendor to go back and do. So I will have that update for you as we go back and get those results.
Chrisopher Sheats: Well, you probably don’t know this, but I’m a member of the Washington State Address Confidentiality Program. Physical location is paramount to families in that program. This system that you equate is similar to Cisco’s network analysis system, where any WiFi device, be it a laptop or cellphone, is monitored in the WiFi network. And looking at this system, I can say. okay, here’s this device. There’s no name on on the device, it’s just a number. But I can physically go there and say, oh, that’s that person. And now that I know, every time I see that number, whether it’s a physical MAC address or not, I can know that it’s the number assigned to that person. This is not a system that’s designed to withstand.
Michael Mattmiller: Thank you.
Nourisha Wells: Any other questions?
Beryl Fernandes: I would just like to add that the issue I brought up relates to much broader issues of low income subsidies. And the Brookings Institution made a nation-wide on low income subsidies and it said they are not being used. They’re being under-utilized. Well the reason for that is the lack of trust in government’s ability to protect their data and themselves.
Michael Mattmiller: It’s a very valid point and we very much recognize that. When we set up the privacy initiative last fall, building the public’s trust in how we collect and use data was very much a part of it. And I very much look forward to having the program operationalized, when we can ahead of these technology purchases and have a conversation about the right way to minimize risk. We’re also going to have increasing scenarios across the City where there’s a desire to improve City services, make more data-driven decisions, and in this case, be able to better manage traffic through downtown. So we’re going to continue having these conversations where there’s a tension between what is the right way to protect. So one-way data collection and also make sure that we ensure quality of life here in Seattle. They are not in conflict, those two things, but I really do look forward to the conversations that we’ll continue having about how we navigate that tension. I just realized that there are some people from SDOT here and yet I’m talking.
Nourisha Wells: I just noticed that I skipped over approving the minutes from last month. My apologies. So, we need to do that. May I have a motion to approve the minutes from last month?
AUGUST MINUTES APPROVED
Nourisha Wells: Announcements?
Bruce Blood: I guess that would be me, for one. As Michael, mentioned, we’re about three weeks from officially launching an application that we’re developing. Actually, M-Lab, part of the Open Technology Institute, is doing most of the development, although certainly, Open Seattle was very much involved in the early parts of it. It will allow anyone to measure their broadband speed on whatever device from wherever they are. Derrick, are you running that thing? You could actually open it up. http://seattle.gov/broadband/broadband-map . This has been a really interesting project because of working with a nonprofit to do the development–actually a couple of nonprofits to do the development. So this site is not yet live for testing because I happen to know there are a couple of bugs in here that we have to fix before opening it up. But, hopefully within the next couple of days or early next week at the very latest, because we need to get it tested, I’m going to ask you folks to go out and bang on it. Basically, I’ll probably just shoot it out to the CTAB list and for those of you who are not necessarily on the CTAB list, I’m email@example.com. I will be happy to shoot you the URL for testing. There will also be a Survey Monkey survey to track the results you get. All that should be available at the latest early next week. We’re really pretty excited about it. It actually works. Except for the fact that there’s a bug. The M-Lab folks have been wonderful to work with. They’re really sharp folks. So the way it’s working is that they are doing all the development for free for us. It hasn’t cost us anything except for the labor in the City to get it on our servers and for me to project manage it, more or less. And then they will take it and basically start handing it off in any number of other cities to work in the same way. This is the first time that I’m aware of that you’ve got actual third party pretty much verifiable speed testing of broadband. Now we’ll see if our providers have been telling us the truth.
Beryl Fernandes: We’ve had some people who live in apartment buildings where it varies a great deal from one floor to another, one side of the building to another. Is this going to capture that?
Bruce Blood: No, it will not, unfortunately. Once again, for privacy issues we have to anonymize it to the census block level. We can’t be exact because then you would be able to track people down.
Beryl Fernandes: So, what do you do? Take the average?
Bruce Blood: Right now we’re taking the mean. What we will do eventually is take the highest and lowest, take the extremes, and then in Phase Two, we’ll start plotting in. We’ll need to get this out by the end of the month.
Nourisha Wells: Do you have any questions for Bruce?
Comment: I noticed you had the demo site up earlier, broadbandtogether.com. It is further along on that site now?
Bruce Blood: Yes, that was the original site that John Tigue was working on. And he basically, became the point person and he got really busy paying the mortgage and things. But I don’t want to diminish that work because that was important. M-Lab took it from there.
Comment: Is it still open source?
Bruce Blood: You know, I haven’t asked them whether it’s going to be open source. I think it is, actually.
Comment: If someone wants to know what the metrics are to represent different areas…
Bruce Blood: I’ll ask. Don’t know why I haven’t asked before.
Dorene Cornwell: I have a question, sort of a follow up to Beryl’s questions. I’ve been collecting anecdotal stories about people’s issues with Century Link, and in my building it seems to be that they have to come to the building and do something to increase the speed. And so it happens on different floors at different times. And the speed, until they do it, is zero. I have these random conversation with other people who I think must live in multi-family buildings, although I sometimes hear about it second hand. So it’s all very nice that Century Link has got 100,000 households that have gigabit speeds, but there are some other households where it’s taking a week to schedule the physical visit, so the speed is zero.
Bruce Blood: And it’s not 120,000 households that have gigabit speed. You still have to pay for the gigabit speed. It’s 120,000 households where it’s available. And that’s what they say. I don’t know what the solution is to getting that granular except for maybe that there’s nothing that says for a person who wants to opt in, say, could run the test over a period of time, keep the results and then talk to the Cable Office.
Nourisha Wells: Any other questions? We will have Mary Catherine Snyder for the Pay by Phone Parking update.
PAY BY PHONE PARKING UPDATE
Mary Catherine Snyder: I’m in the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). I’m in the Parking Program, which is in the Transit and Mobility division. I’m here to talk about our Pay By Phone project that we’re still working on and trying to expand. Just wanted to provide a brief update about where we’re at and maybe see if you all had some feedback or ideas about how it’s going. I would just say generally that I have a suspicion that there’s not a lot of people on the staff that do either project management, technology, or data management that are really aware of the resource that you might offer as an advisory board or at your monthly meetings. So that might be something for us to work on.
And if we have time, I’m happy to talk about our broader efforts to share parking data and work with app developers to develop parking apps. So, I was here in April and at that point, we were just starting to think about how to grow Pay By Phone use. So, if you’ve been paying for parking on-street in Seattle since 2013, you can use an app called Pay By Phone by our vendor that we contracted with for that purpose. You sign up for an account and from a customer perspective, it’s pretty straightforward to pay for parking. It tends to be quicker than a pay station. You get a text message, you can extend your time, so there are some customer service benefits. And that’s really why we’re trying to push more use of the Pay By Phone app. I think over time, we’d also see a better management of our infrastructure on-street, because it’s pretty expensive to operate pay station kiosks on the street. So if we can encourage more and more people to use the phone app, then we can reduce our reliance on infrastructure like that. But right now, we’re promoting it as a payment option that we’re trying to emphasize.
Right now we have a drop plan that we’re working on getting funding for. Right now there’s a user fee. If you pay by phone, there’s a thirty five cent per transaction user fee, and we would like to eliminate that fee for the parker. So that would really put Pay By Phone and pay stations on an equal footing. There would be no penalty for using one versus the other. And then we would really like to get some funding to market the program. That’s really where we’re at.
We’re also talking about, if you’re familiar with the racial equity toolkit that the City has, we’re building that out for Pay By Phone. So it’s been really helpful to use DoIT’s technology access survey. Because there’s a lot of information about smart phone ownership. The challenge we have is we don’t track who parks. We don’t know a lot about parkers. So, we don’t really have a way to say, if we do this thing, it’s going to have certain regional disparities, because we just don’t know.
We’re hoping to be able to identify funding through our departmental process, that we could launch an expansion plan in December or early next year. So I was really here to provide an update and see if anybody had any comments or questions or ideas about how to understand technology access. It’s smart phone access but it’s also credit card access, because you need a credit card to sign up for Pay By Phone. It’s a similar discussion that people are having with other services, like Car To Go, or Uber, all of those are also credit card and app based.
Joneil Sampana: Based on your early marketing plans, do you feel that engagement with citizens has been positive for the last couple of cycles?
Mary Catherine Snyder: When we launched in the summer of 2013, we spent some resources on our marketing program. We had online media, online ads, we had postcards we put out in business districts, and I think that helped. We also had word of mouth and media announcements to get people to sign up. Just anecdotally, we know people that use Pay By Phone love it. People say, “I’ve used it and will never go back. I haven’t been to a pay station in years.” Almost 90 (SIC) percent of our transactions are by phone now, which for us is about 80,000 to 90,000 a month. So we’re trying to figure out whether we’re at some point where that’s the market in the City and we need to do more marketing. And we really think the user fee is a barrier to use. Especially if you’re buying a dollar’s worth of parking, the idea that you pay 35 cents more is really a problem. I’m hoping that removing that barrier helps. We’d like to get to 30 percent of transactions by phone by the end of next year, which is a big goal. So we’ll see if we can figure out how to do that.
Dan Moulton: Is there a Chinese wall between ticketing and your racial point, referencing Ferguson, Missouri?
Mary Catherine Snyder: I need a little help with that.
Dan Moulton: [unintelligible]…revenue generation.
Mary Catherine Snyder: This is the pay for parking part of it. Separately, the Seattle Police Department handles parking enforcement.
Dan Moulton: Is there a Chinese wall between them? Never the twain shall meet.
Mary Catherine Snyder: When you pay for your parking on-street, if you’re the parking officer, which is really a great job, you’re walking down the street and you see either a pay station receipt on the vehicle. You’d see some other way that they’ve paid for parking legally or that license plate shows up on the Pay By Phone database that parking enforcement has access to. All parking enforcement uses are license plate and whether they’ve paid by phone and how much time remaining. So there isn’t any other vehicle information if/until the officer goes to write a ticket.
Dan Moulton: My question is a futuristic question.
Dan Stiefel: Does he or she punch in a number? Or is it scanned?
Mary Catherine Snyder: It’s punched in. At this point, there’s no scanning.
Dan Stiefel: So, it looks like the car might be subject to a ticket before they punch in the license plate number.
Mary Catherine Snyder: Yes.
Lee Colleton: So, the Seattle Police do have license plate readers on some of their vehicles, including some of their parking enforcement vehicles. As for the futuristic point, they could put license plate readers on all of their vehicles and have a more perfect enforcement of parking regulations than they do today. But only the meter readers are actually checking for the sticker.
Dan Moulton: I don’t want to see people ending up in a cycle of debt. That’s my point.
Mary Catherine Snyder: Are there any more comments on the Pay By Phone program? I’m hoping that by the end of the year we have a plan that’s funded. We’re pursuing that. I can come back and talk about it more.
Karia Wong: Is there going to be any translation? Or language version of the app available?
Mary Catherine Snyder: The app is available in French, because they’re actually a Canadian company and they operate in Paris, and Spanish as well. We have over time translated our parking materials into various languages. We continue to try and do that when we can, especially on the public education side.
Karia Wong: But for the actual app, is it going to be localized in Chinese or Japanese or other languages for where we have our poorest residents?
Mary Catherine Snyder: Right now, French, Spanish and English are the only languages available to us. If that’s something we’d like to pursue, we’d have to work with them or see if there’s somebody else that can do it. Our pay stations are in Chinese and Spanish and English languages.
Lee Colleton: I have a concern about the third party provider that is storing this information. You said that SDOT does not view any analysis currently of who’s parking where. Does this third party provider store these records of people’s phone, their other identifying information, a record of where they’re parking? Do they sell that to other third parties? How are those privacy concerns presented to someone who is just trying to park, and they may have their credit card appear on the app?
Mary Catherine Snyder: Pay By Phone has transaction information that’s connected to your license plate and payment because they’re charging your credit card for that. When you accept the app, it states that they may not sell that data to anybody. They also meet the highest levels of PCI security, both for the app and they also have an IBR phone system. So that’s really important to us. On our end, we actually do get transaction data from Pay By Phone. What we use is location of purchase, and the amount, but we don’t have any vehicle identification information. So we don’t know who’s parking. We just know that a parking event occurred. We compile that data, along with similar data from the pay stations. We track parking occupancy based on that data. We track the time, location, and amount, but we don’t have any information about the parker.
Christopher Sheats: I just wanted to make a note that even the platinum level of PCI identification is still a check box that gets checked on. It’s not a preventative measure by any means.
Beryl Fernandes: When the language says they do not sell, does that mean they could gift it to somebody?
Bruce Blood: They can’t redistribute it in any way. I don’t know. I haven’t seen it. But I have seen similar language and that would be what we would ask in a contract.
Mary Catherine Snyder: Well, I really appreciate your time. If there are other projects or programs at SDOT that people are interested in hearing about, I’m happy to help connect people up. You guys are a really helpful resource, and it’s a very different view of how we do our projects.
Nourisha Wells: Thank you. Next up we have Kathy Putt from Comcast.
COMCAST INTERNET ESSENTIALS LOW INCOME PROGRAM
Kathy Putt: [Hands out brochures and swag.] Is it safe to assume that everyone knows what Internet Essentials is or should I explain? I’m Kathy Putt and I do local government relations for Comcast. And I’ve been there for 15 years so I’m sort of surprised that I haven’t been here before. Thank you for having me. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Internet Essentials, it’s a program we launched four years ago where we provide discount internet to low income families. It’s a program I like to remind people that was Bruce Harrell’s idea. He pitched it to me and we floated it up and we ended up launching it at a national level. So I always try to give him credit when I can. We are now halfway into our fourth year in the program. We launched it back in 2011 and in the last four years nationally, we’ve connected about 1.8 million Americans or 450,000 families. In Washington, we’ve connected about 14,000 with Internet Essentials, and in Seattle we’ve connected about 1,700 families. That’s about a 27 percent penetration rate of eligible families. So, in my mind, that’s pretty good, but there’s still room to grow. Over the years, I’m happy to say that we’ve enhanced the program a number of times. We’ve created a dedicated call center. We’ve created partnerships, both at the national and local levels. We’ve increased internet speeds multiple times. We’ve produced an online application. If you happen to be at the library and want to submit application online. And last year we announced this amnesty program for families who have a debt with us that is older than a year. I should say that one of the limiting factors on Internet Essentials is that it is for families without internet and you have to live in our footprint, obviously. And if you have a past due balance with us, normally you would have to pay up before being eligible for the program. However, as I said, last year we announced an amnesty program where if you have a debt owed to us for more than a year, then we will go ahead and forgive that if that’s what is keeping you out of Internet Essentials.
Just last month we announced our 2015-2016 enhancements. I think that’s really what you wanted to hear about tonight. The first one I’m excited to announce is the doubling of speeds. We’re going — it does sound so low, but it is for our starter customers–we’re going from five to ten megabits per second, which is not only faster but allows for more devices to be connected in the home. We also added a wireless router to the package. This was probably the most requested enhancement of anyone who has ever inquired. We’re really excited about the different enhancements and add ons that will allow multiple devices to be connected. At the same time, it will allow multiple family members to be connected within the home at the same time. How many people have multiple kids all trying to do homework at the same time? And then also it will allow people to connect to their home internet service versus using their data on their phones. So we think that will be a good thing.
Also, we have expanded the auto-approve schools. This is where if you attend a public school where 50 percent of the families are on free or reduced lunch, every family attending that school, regardless of income, is now eligible for the program. That’s a huge enhancement. We’re really excited about that and that actually eliminates the school lunch verification process and it adds 315 more schools to the auto-enroll list, for a total of 576 in the state. In Seattle, there are 46 schools that meet that criteria. And as a result of the enhanced auto-approval, we’ve added 17 more schools to that list. That just eliminates any redundancy for work by the school administration, and it just allows all families, regardless of income, who go to those schools to participate.
Originally, somebody had asked how we were trying to get the word out about these enhancements. We have historically, and continue to work with the schools and our community partners to help get the word out. Seattle School District has been a great partner of ours. They do have a non-solicitation policy, which was a challenge initially. Because we’re Comcast, we couldn’t send out materials to students with a Comcast logo on it because we’re corporate. But we did find a work-around where we crafted a brochure without the Comcast logo, and instead we listed some of our national nonprofit partners, like the Urban League. And there are multiple partners. We ended up crafting a non-branded brochure, and they allowed us to distribute it. Since that time, for the last three years, we’ve distributed materials twice a year. And every time we distribute brochures, we see the numbers go up. So, it’s proven to be a really positive thing. It’s back to school time, so we always try and hit it in the fall and in the spring.
The district has had a number of turnovers in administration, so I’m working with the new administration to get yet another distribution going.
In addition to the schools and our community partners, we have also been working closely with Seattle Goodwill in their back to school backpack giveaway program. They had a big event at their Seattle facility as well as at seven other facilities in the vicinity, including Marysville, Everett, Burien, Bellingham, Spokane–a whole bunch of other locations. So they handed out backpacks in all their facilities, and we made sure that all those backpacks had Internet Essentials materials included in them. And they probably had some pens and mints in them, too.
One of the other enhancements that we announced was the introduction of Internet Essentials to low income senior citizens. We’re starting with a pilot program in just a couple areas so we can test out how the program will work with that demographic. It’s a totally different demographic than low income families. Right now we are testing it. The first pilot was announced August 4. It’s in Palm Beach, Florida. It’s really way too early to provide any preliminary results, unfortunately. We did just announce that the second pilot program will be located in the Bay Area. We’re hoping that as soon as we establish some best practices, we’ll be able to apply those as we launch it in additional areas. Hopefully, it will come to Seattle. People have asked about it. Councilmember Licata has asked me about it several times. Hopefully, we’ll learn how to best hit that demographic, how to teach them best how to use it. It’s a totally different segment, so hopefully that will be coming soon. I don’t know when at this point in time.
I’m happy to answer any questions or concerns.
Beryl Fernandes: Do you have designated staff in Comcast who will answer questions for families who don’t know what to do and where to go? And I ask that question because a large family that lives in Yesler Terrace, definitely low income, who had cancelled their internet subscription because they couldn’t afford it anymore. It was another company, not Comcast. Most of those kids are in school and they absolutely need it. So I suggested they call the Cable Office here, and call you people. I also suggested them trying to contact Century Link and Comcast to see if they could get some kind of deal going.
Kathy Putt: We do have a dedicated call center. We also have a web site. Not that they have internet, but if they happen to go to the library and they go online, assuming they know how to navigate–that’s the problem, a lot of times they don’t know how to navigate. If you call Comcast locally, they would probably route you to one of the three or four people who do my job.
Vicky Yuki: Just to clarify, and I’m glad you brought this up, that it is in the area where your footprint is. Yesler is part of WAVE. So, there are certain limitations. We’re hoping that some of those can be addressed.
Kathy Putt: I would just point out that Century Link also has its version of this program. And over the last few years, FCC has been urging all broadband providers to adopt this type of program. Except for WAVE, I think all the other major providers have some version of this type of program. We are probably the largest and most out in front on it. But I know Century Link has a program.
Beryl Fernandes: So, if they’re with WAVE, is there any place they can go to get it reinstalled?
Vicky Yuki: There are basically three providers in Seattle that offer $10/mo. internet as a low income program, and they are Century Link, Comcast, and Everyone On’s basic internet program, which used the T-Mobile network. So those are the three options currently in Seattle that we are actively talking about.
Karia Wong: I’m just wondering how many do have access to the auto-approved school list?
Kathy Putt: I have access to it. I don’t know why I wouldn’t be able to share it.
Karia Wong: The reason I ask is because we work with a lot of families. If we know the school is on the list, we can just mention it to them. Is that an option? We work with Vietnamese and Chinese families in Seattle area.
Kathy Putt: If you’re going to help us get the word out, I’m happy to provide that list to you. And just so you know, we do provide our brochure in about 10 languages. Our standard is English on one side and Spanish on the back, but they’re available in many different languages.
Karia Wong: I guess the challenging part, as we have discussed earlier, is the navigation. For people who don’t have experience, it will be hard for them to get it done by themselves.
Kathy Putt: Okay. Let me just get your contact information.
Question: David Cohen announced in Florida a similar program for seniors. When will it come to Seattle?
Kathy Putt: I don’t know when it will come to Seattle. The pilot started a month ago. We just announced a second pilot in the Bay Area. I think we’ll probably see how those play out, and then launch additional sites as we move forward. If and when Seattle gets added to the list, I will certainly let everyone know. Because I know everyone is excited about it.
Dan Stiefel: About a year ago, I was trying to help a low income person sign up. So I called Comcast to try to get some questions answered and they forwarded me to a machine. And they never called back. I called and left a message twice, and I never ever received a call back. Now, I don’t know if that’s still the way it’s working? Did you address that as far as responses?
Nourisha Wells: Do you have the actual number?
Kathy Putt: I don’t know the number. It’s probably in the brochure. 1-888-972-5982
Dan Stiefel: Is that the low income program?
Kathy Putt: That’s the Internet Essentials number.
Dan Stiefel: Do you know if it ever gets picked up by an answering machine?
Kathy Putt: It should get picked up.
Dan Stiefel: A year ago, that wasn’t the case.
Kathy Putt: That’s not good. It’s a live call center today. I’ll give you my card. If you call and get an answering machine, let me know because we need to address that.
Jose Vasquez: Two quick questions. First, do you have plans to expand the program to all children?
Kathy Putt: We have no plans to do that.
Jose Vasquez: Many families, unfortunately, don’t have children but are low income. This would be very helpful to them. Talking about Digital Equity, if I remember correctly, the FCC put out a statement that the bare minimum of internet speeds is 25mbps. Is Comcast trying to achieve that goal through this program, or are you just going to keep it at 10? I know you’re saying that you doubled it from five to 10.
Kathy Putt: This is still an introductory service. It is lower than our lowest tier. In the last four years, we’ve raised speeds twice. I actually was thinking that we have to be climbing towards that 25. So I don’t have a definitive answer. I’d be shocked if we didn’t continue to increase it to get to that level. Especially as people consume more and more bandwidth. The need is there.
Karia Wong: I just have a comment. I echo the comment. For the past two years, I have never successfully helped people to sign up for internet basics at Comcast.
Kathy Putt: I’m going to give you my card.
Karia Wong: Every time I call, it’s voicemail.
Kathy Putt: I’m sorry to hear that. That’s not good.
Nourisha Wells: Do you have to leave?
Kathy Putt: No. I can stay.
Nourisha Wells: Okay, if you don’t mind sticking around, we have to move through the rest of the agenda, but we’ll have a break in the next few minutes, and you guys can come up and ask any questions you might have.
Beryl Fernandes: Can we make sure that her name and contact information gets into the minutes:
Cass Magnuski: Can I have one of those?
Kathy Putt, Director, Franchising and Government Affairs, North Puget Sound.
Comcast Cable, P.O. Box 97007, Redmond, WA 98073
Nourisha Wells: Thank you, Kathy. We’ll move on to the Comprehensive Plan. There is a Council meeting next Tuesday at 2:00 to discuss some proposed changes and amendments to the Comprehensive Plan, and so we wanted to allot space on our agenda today to talk about anything that we want to present. And I just read the announcement of the hearing and they’re going to specifically talk about three areas. None of them are actually related to our topic, and so I don’t know if we want to still have the conversation and then look for the chance where we can present that input. So I’ll put that question out there. Are there specific things that we definitely want to give input on? And then, do we have that conversation now or table it for another meeting?
Beryl Fernandes: What are the three areas?
Nourisha Wells: The three areas are the periodic updates that are made to the plan under the Washington State Growth Management Act; they’re look at amendments to the future land use map; to adjust the boundary of the urban center and change some single family and multi-family areas to commercial mixed use areas; and then the last one is to look at amending the Comprehensive Plan related to affordable housing.
So input? Do we want to table the conversation for another meeting when the Council meeting is going to be more relevant to our subjects? Or do you want to go ahead and have the conversation now?
Greta Hotopp: [unintelligible]
Nourisha Wells: It’s got the commercial mixed use, so it’s combining the two for some areas. It doesn’t necessarily say where, but it’s definitely going to be related to the urban center neighborhood, the urban village thing that they have going on.
Greta Hotopp: That doesn’t include things like where the cables will be laid?
Nourisha Wells: I imagine it could. It doesn’t specifically say. So if there’s anything under that area that we would want to address, then it could come up. But I’m not sure.
Dorene Cornwell: When I think about one framework and change, I think how did this flow, so I can get at it in an open data way without having to fund my business or buy up a whole bunch of real estate. Which I’m unlikely to do, but just think about it in an open data perspective.
Nourisha Wells: I don’t know if you guys are aware, but there is an open data web site, http://2035.seattle.gov . That’s an interactive collaboration on the Comprehensive Plan where you can go and share your thoughts and comments. They have some of the key proposal components. You can weigh in on it. It requires you to give your information, but you can do it anonymously or you can have your information included. So there are some interactive things available for that. So board members, are we going to have this conversation or are we going to table it for later?
Joneil Sampana: For upcoming meetings from this commission, do we happen to know what the sequence is going to be?
Nourisha Wells: I’m not sure. I just saw the announcement of what was going to be covered.
Beryl Fernandes: [unintelligible]
Nourisha Wells: It’s actually going to be presented to the full Council.
Beryl Fernandes: If it’s going to the full Council, then I would say that unless we have a really well-defined set of issues, then I would say table it.
Nourisha Wells: Okay. So with that, we’ll go ahead and take a quick break.
PRIVACY COMMITTEE UPDATE
Beryl Fernandes: Last month, I reported that we’d finished the third in the series of workshops that made up the collaborathon. Since that time, we’ve been having meetings out in the community, as I have been for the last year, but the five commissions that deal with under-represented groups at the City Boards and Commissions, and they invited me to come and talk to them. And probably 25 to 30 showed up. It was really good, really engaged people. They were very pleased that we were taking this approach with marginalized populations. That is their business, and to see us come in with this was very exciting. They are going to help us in whatever way we would like them to and they would like to. And have individual meetings, offshoots of that one, with the Mayor’s Office for Seniors, and several other small meetings like that. Those are very targeted. So that’s what’s going on there.
On the symposium, I’ll give you a better update next month. There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of challenges with nailing down a date, so I’ll wait until next month to do that. So I’ll just end there.
Nourisha Wells: Any questions for Beryl? Next we’ll have Amy Hirotaka with Cable and Broadband.
CABLE AND BROADBAND COMMITTEE UPDATE
Amy Hirotaka: As we discussed last meeting, I went ahead and submitted the FCC comments on the Lifeline update. I just got an email from David Keyes that those have been put up on the web site with a blog post. So people can check it out there. I was unable to attend the last Broadband and Cable meeting, so Sarah Trowbridge led in my absence. But I have some high level take-aways, and then she and Dan can give any specifics needed. There’s a pre-briefing on the Comcast franchise renewal that will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 16, for the Public Safety Technology and Civil Rights Committee. This would be something that would be good for us or members to attend. The actual public comment meeting is on November 18. So we should come up with a position statement before then. This is something that the Broadband Committee is talking about, so the progression of events would be that we would come up with a position statement, share it with the group here, and then we could approve it. And then we would work with Councilmember Harrell’s staff to make sure that it gets addressed.
Also,l my understanding is that folks will be working with the Digital Inclusion Committee and Jose Vasquez on the Digital Equity Initiative. Because there are some shared concerns and overlap between the two groups, especially in regards to outreach and low income internet.
Sarah, do you want to add anything?
Sarah Trowbridge: Just specifically, that pre-briefing on the Comcast franchise renewal negotiations on potential public benefits that are getting negotiated, we can come up with a position statement that we can share with City Council.
Nourisha Wells: Can you share those dates again?
Amy Hirotaka: The pre-briefing is on September 16, and the public comment meeting is on November 18.
Nourisha Wells: So we’ll need to review at the October meeting. Any questions for Amy or Sarah? Next we’ll have the Digital Inclusion Committee update with Jose.
DIGITAL INCLUSION UPDATE
Jose Vasquez: I’m glad I got extra time because I might need it. First I want to follow up on what Nourisha said. I’m also hearing conversations here. The broadband providers talking about opening up access to their Lifeline program to more people, but then a comment I just now heard was that they don’t have the staff capabilities of doing that. I think that’s what we’re going to start talking about at our Digital Inclusion meetings to see if there’s a potential fund it from multiple nonprofits to be able to provide that capacity and share more of the resources. I know people that work directly with low income communities. I think there’s a lot of opportunity here, so I’m excited about that.
I want to give a brief update. We did a site visit to one of last year’s Technology Matching Fund grantees, the Boys and Girls Club up in Shoreline. They got close to $20,000 to create two fully equipped computer labs with 23 computer stations. In the past year, over 500 youth have used the computers to do homework after school, and partnered with Google to do some coding curriculum. I got to see the kids interact and play. They were creating games from the coding they learned. It’s pretty cool because it’s drag and drop. This was elementary kids learning about programming and very basic coding, which I’ve never seen. Somebody told me that there are schools that charge hundreds of dollars to provide this type of curriculum. The grant that they got enabled them to provide this for free to the kids that use their services. So that was great to see the actual impact of TMF. With that, I want to open the invitation. If you want to get involved in next year’s TMF review committee, you are all invited. We’re having our next Digital Inclusion Committee meeting Tuesday, September 22, at 6:00 p.m. at the Beacon Hill Library. We’re going to start preparing for next year. I really want to get committee members involved in being more engaged prior to the application process, so that we can get to know ourselves, and through our communities, recruit organizations that could really benefit from this program. I think it’s a really cool thing we do here at CTAB.
Joneil and Beryl have been talking about updating the TMF criteria to make it … maybe I’ll let you talk a little about it–the reason behind–making it a stronger emphasis on targeting under-represented communities, as well as focusing that criteria into a more measurable way. The things that we have talked about, as far as–some of these aren’t necessarily updating the TMF guidelines or criteria, but maybe recommendations for City staff. And I talked with them about a couple of these things and these are some things that we can start implementing and we can work towards. For example, adding some working