Topics covered included: Report by Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller, discussion on Council proposed Beacon Hill municipal broadband pilot project, vote to approve comments on the Comcast cable franchise renewal, Digital Inclusion Committee discussion of Technology Matching Fund criteria, Privacy Committee report, E-gov committee report, update on vacant position recruitment, and Board Officer elections (Amy Hirotaka elected as new Chair and Jose Vasquez as Vice-Chair).
This meeting was held: November 10, 2015; 6:00-8:00 p.m., Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2750
Podcasts available at: http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/CTTAB/podcast/cttab.xml
Board Members: Nourisha Wells, Beryl Fernandes, Joneil Sampana, Karia Wong, Amy Hirotaka, Iga Fikayo Keme, Ben Krokower, Jose Vasquez, Carmen Rahm
Public: Christopher Sheats (Seattle Privacy Coalition); Dashiell Milliman-Jarvis, Sabrina Roach, Dan Moulton, Dorene Cornwell, Dan Stiefel, Mary Taylor, Henok Kidane, Karen Toering, John LeFevre, Heather Lewis, John Tigue
Staff: Michael Mattmiller, Kendee Yamaguchi, David Keyes, Cass Magnuski,
25 In Attendance
Meeting was called to order by Nourisha Wells.
Agenda was approved.
Minutes from last month’s CTAB meeting was approved with two abstentions from Jose Vasquez and Beryl Fernandes, who were not in attendance.
Nourisha Wells: We will start by opening the floor to anyone who has announcements.
Jose Vasquez: I just got back from a trip to Washington, D.C. I went to the Latinos in Technology Innovation and Social Media Conference. I got to meet a lot of good people from all over the country who are working on digital access and digital equity, in particular. I made a lot of good contacts and got some good ideas. We might be bringing a Latino hackathon here next year to invite nonprofits to come out and present on what thier needs are, and then do a hackathon around that. That’s exciting.
Nourisha Wells: Any other announcements?
David Keyes: There is a BDPA, which is the Black Data Processing Associates, which is bigger than Data Processing Associates. For years, we had a really active chapter here, and then it kind of faded away for a while. There’s a new reinvigoration of BDPA that’s going on with some of the African American folks. Ann Robinson, who works for our Department of Neighborhoods (DON) and who was a former CTAB member years ago, is kicking it off. I’ll put this up on the board, but November 19 is the Seattle Chapter kickoff at the African American Museum. For folks that are really interested, it’s a great opportunity. The BDPA across the country does a combination of networking and support for folks that participate, and also does events to help youth and others with technology education. I’ll also email it around to the list.
Chief Technical Officer Report
Michael Mattmiller: A couple of fun things going on in the City at the moment: We have some really great work going on with IT consolidation. For those who aren’t usually with us, we’re in the process of consolidating 650 staff from across the executive branches of government into the new Seattle Information Technology Department, or Seattle IT, for short. The Mayor announced this initiative in May, and we’re pleased that legislation affecting the consolidation is currently before the Council. I had an opportunity, with the budget director, Ben Noble, to meet with a number of Councilmembers over the past two weeks to discuss the consolidation legislation. We answered a lot of questions. We learned about the priorities of the Council, and we do look forward to the passage of the consolidation legislation, hopefully, later this month. If the consolidation legislation is passed, the new Seattle IT department will become effective on April 6. We have met monthly with all entities of the IT staff in the City to talk about the status of consolidation. Some of the things that we’ll be talking about at the town hall meeting on Monday include our proposal for a new governing structure for IT in the City. [See the employee town hall meeting video].
As part of our governance structure, we look forward to continuing having CTAB in the mix. At the executive level, last year we addressed the Mayor’s subcabinet, which I have talked to some of you about. That’s the group setting strategic direction for our IT function in the City. We’re also proposing the creation of a new business steering committee, which would be comprised of representative finance administration leaders from across City departments to help validate IT performance against our SLAs and to also help evaluate requests for new IT projects in the City as part of our process. So we’re all very excited on those fronts.
Our next generation data center continues to make great progress. We have been working over the past two months to work on the technical design of our new shared services. Compute, backup, network, and some other things that go with that. We thank our many talented professionals from across the departments that contributed to that effort and we look forward to starting the migration to the data center in the March time frame.
Office 365: Similarly, we are moving forward. We now have more than 1,200 City employees who have migrated to the cloud. I am one of them. I love the improved experience over our former Exchange 2007 mail server, which predated the iPhone. And things are working a bit better. We think that our remaining 9,000 or so customers in the City will really appreciate that service. We anticipate completing our email migration in the January time frame.
We are also in the midst of a redesign of seattle.gov. We have draft designs coming together, a steering committee has been established, and I hope that we will be able to share some of the draft designs later this year. Jeff Beckstrom, as many of you know, is leading that effort.
We also received a couple of awards last week that I’m particularly proud of. For the third year running, the City of Seattle was named one of the Digital Cities Survey Leaders for the use of technology to engage the public. This year, we were fourth. We’ve got a little bit behind last year, when we were second. So we’ll all have to work together to catch up in 2016. We are also incredibly honored to be named by the National League of Cities as a digital inclusion leader for our Technology Matching Fund (TMF) programs. That is directly related to this group. I am incredibly proud of all the work that you put in to bring internet access and literacy to so many people in our community. David Keyes was in Nashville to receive the honor on our behalf. The award was also sponsored by Next Century Cities and Google Fiber. We did not win the fiber. But it was an honor nonetheless, and Vice President Biden was part of that award ceremony. So really, a huge honor. Congratulations to everyone here.
Those are some of the things going on right now that we’re putting time into. I will pause there for any questions.
Jose Vasquez: I just wanted to follow up on the question I asked, I think, two CTAB meetings ago. If we can get an update on the numbers that track diversity of employees in your department?
Michael Mattmiller: Yes, and I didn’t bring those. I apologize. I will pull those up and deliver them shortly.
Nourisha Wells: Any other questions? Is there a time for the Town Hall meeting?
Michael Mattmiller: The Town Hall meetings are generally at 9:30 and 10:30. Those are closed door to City employees, however we do post the video online. We can make sure that David posts it. Jose, I’m sorry about the data. If I can interrupt the meeting later…
Jose Vasquez: You can email it out. I’m just interested in seeing it.
Michael Mattmiller: Sounds good.
Nourisha Wells: Next, we have on the agenda the Council Proposed Beacon Hill Gigabit Broadband Project. I’m not sure who is leading the conversation on that.
Jose Vasquez: I just figured that since it is upcoming for a vote by City Council, we should discuss it. Me, particularly, living in Beacon Hill. I’m personally interested in this. At least from a community standpoint, I’m trying to see what kind of feedback we can provide to the City to not just look at it as a business opportunity. Because I feel that the City is officially response was very down to the numbers. Is it feasible? Is it affordable? Is it doable? Whereas we should be seeing it through a digital equity lens where do we want to consider a high speed internet a basic necessity like the Police Department, the Fire Department? I don’t know if those type of things get assessed the same way or differently? That’s just the feedback that I would like to the City from the digital equity perspective. Talking on behalf of the Beacon Hill neighborhood, I don’t know if the City included the 98118 zip code?
Michael Mattmiller: It should.
Jose Vasquez: But this proposed project, does it include that? No? Okay.
Michael Mattmiller: It’s supposed to be the PacMed Building north to the top of the hill.
Sabrina: It really doesn’t specify which part. The study outlines what it would look like in north Beacon Hill, but the only detail in the green sheet was Beacon Hill and the north end. So one could infer that they mean the north end but it’s not in writing.
Jose Vasquez: While we have all this feedback, I would propose to the City personally. I don’t want to speak on behalf of everybody else. But when we look at the most diverse zip code that we have, the City should be intentional on how to increase access in those areas that are most at need. In something like this, one would wonder when the City is doing their assessment, instead of looking at it as ‘can we afford to do it?’ From a business perspective it should be ‘is it a necessity?’ Maybe we should look at it from that lens. I don’t know if anybody else has any input apart from this?
Ben Krokower: I would agree 100% with what Jose said. This pilot project is the logical next step directly from the Broadband Study. The exact thing they recommend doing. In addition to actually providing the service, which would be a boon for digital equity in that neighborhood–an historically underserved neighborhood–in addition to that, it’s also the pod that would allow the City learn a lot about what it takes to operate their own network. And it’s taken verbatim from this report. I understand that it comes down to numbers and acceptable risk, but I don’t see $5 million as much of a risk. And the possibilities and the benefits are enormous. So I would second what Jose said.
Nourisha Wells: I thought that that was the plan, to do a pilot.
Ben Krokower: I don’t know. There seems to be a large disconnect between what the study recommends, what it says, and the various interpretations from people about what we should do next about it. I didn’t see it as much of a dead end. I saw it like, ‘hey, this is an enormous, difficult thing to do, with tons of risk.’ Here’s how you can mitigate those risks so we can move forward. One of those things to help mitigate it and start down the path of offering quality broadband to the residents of Seattle is to create a pilot program. So, I think I would support doing it.
Jose Vasquez: Is this something that the board could see us issuing a support statement or some kind of official statement to provide to the Mayor and the Council?
Joneil Sampana: I don’t know about that. Let me add it. Again, I’m just trying to get educated on this process myself. It says ‘Council anticipates that such authority will not be granted until the executive presents Council the [unintelligible]. Who is this executive to present to the Council this concept of a spending plan? Is it DoIT? Is it us? Is it a consultant? Does anyone know?
Michael Mattmiller: That’s a great question. This is a a green sheet for DoIT budget, so it would be DoIT, presumably. Now, DoIT has no expertise and no funding to develop such a plan. So that’s a challenge.
Nourisha Wells: And DoIT would be the provider to do the build out.
Michael Mattmiller: We have not developed, and it’s not clear who would do that.
Nourisha Wells: So this is just a proposal that’s been out there and this is a proposal we want to explore?
Michael Mattmiller: This green sheet would set aside $5 million to fund a pilot, after DoIT comes forth with a plan. Is that the wording?
Jose Vasquez: So, if I understand it correctly, DoIT’s stance–actually, what is DoIT’s stance on this?
Michael Mattmiller: The executive stance? I had a talk with this group at some length about the municipal broadband. The internet is an essential utility of the 21st century. It is something that is essential to our daily lives. It is essential to being able to be part of our society. The challenge is when we studied the feasibility of delivering that sort of service, we learned what we all now know, is that it would cost an average of $660 million. Yes, it could be on the low end. Was it $480 million to $510 million. The challenge is that we don’t have that money. The report did point out that we could use some pilots. And that the pilots would not help us understand our ability to run the system or our ability to achieve a sufficient take rate to financially break even on a City-wide deployment. What the pilot would do is help to generate public interest in the pilot. While that is one potential outcome, the challenge is as we set aside $5 million, we burn through it. What happens, we turn off the system unless we have $660 million. So what Ben Noble, the City’s budget director, and I did is we put together a memo, which I think many of you have, saying in essence, of a strategy of how to get to $660 million, we don’t believe it prudent to invest in the pilot at this time. That is not saying that we don’t support community broadband. It’s not saying that there may not be opportunities in the future, but as written, we don’t see a path in this particular proposal. Does that help?
Ben Krokower: What you said is exactly right. The study states that it is not meant to help with the finances. You’re not going to learn about paying for it. But when we talk about the four hundred and something to six hundred and something million, it’s this idea of risk. What the residents of Seattle are doing to invest in themselves and what kind of risk they’re willing to take on, based on what they want. Like if they want a stadium, well that’s a huge risk and they would issue a bunch of debt for it, and we want it enough, well that’s what we’ll do. We’ll vote on it, or we’ll support the politicians who support it. Same thing with broadband. That’s what the pilot, I think, is meant to show. Like, here’s this fantastic thing that could happen. We could actually do this. There’s some risk, of course, and maybe we’ll learn a little more about those risks, but we’ll also learn about running it, and we’ll also learn about the benefits. The public would be educated about that. I think that’s a great example about reading the same paragraphs and coming away with two very different interpretations of it. So when I read that, I think, great, let’s do a pilot. Let’s learn and let’s make all those stupid mistakes. You’re going to learn from building it and operating it. And the, if at that point we as a City decide this is worth it, or maybe we learn a good way of operating it, I would definitely support a statement. Considering there’s a vote coming up, either Friday or Monday is what I heard–I don’t know if anybody at the City has heard when the vote is coming up….
Michael Mattmiller: Either Friday or Monday. Ben, I don’t disagree with what you’ve said. I just want to modify one part of it, which I think is what’s stuck in my head. It’s a pilot on risk, specifically financial risk. The study did, point blank, say that we would not understand the likely take rate by doing the pilot. And when we think about the greatest risk of a City-wide bill, and having to have annual bond payments for the next 20 years, that’s the single biggest risk. If 43 percent of the City subscribes to the service at the rate of $75 a month, knowing that the average consumer in Seattle pays less than that for broadband today. I totally agree. I’d rather have gig than the ‘x’ speed that I can get at my house today, but am I willing to pay more for that, and when would I get it, and how to get it to those customers? That’s the big risk that the pilot’s not going to help us answer.
Ben Krokower: But there’s also the idea of using property taxes instead. I know that getting into using property taxes to raise the money means you’re suddenly competing with every other thing that’s trying to use property taxes to fund the great things we want. But, we could use property taxes. There could be a vote and there could be other ways of funding.
Beryl Fernandes: Has anyone suggested an income tax? We’ve suggested income taxes over the years, but specifically at this time….
Ben Krokower: Well, I think that everyone would be talking about it as if we could levy one. Right now, we’re barred from income tax by state law.
Beryl Fernandes: Well, we could overcome that, too.
Ben Krokower: And also with the property tax lids, you should go talk to Tim Eyman.
Jose Vasquez: Just real quick, since we’re running out of time. I don’t think it’s upon us to figure out how the City can afford this. I think they have enough smart people to come up with the ideas. But as a community board, this is something that we encourage–that the City should be strategic about this. Going back to my point, maybe we haven’t seen it from that specific lens, but more as is it necessary. Like I said, is the Police Department break even? Is the Fire Department break even? Is there enough support that we can submit a statement?
Amy Hirotaka: In the Municipal Broadband Committee, we do not have the bandwidth to do that. We’ve been working on this Comcast deal. If someone else wants to take it on, feel free. I’m going to be absolutely no way.
Christopher Sheats: I know this is a long shot, and I don’t even know if this is the venue for suggesting this, but Indiegogo is a kick starter and they were able to manage near $2 billion a year from simply kick starting. And I don’t know if that is an option that you guys might want to exploit for some portion of the income. Ask the community to donate some part of it.
Ronald: I didn’t know that we could make comments. As a member of Upgrade Seattle, we’ve been out promoting this idea as a pilot. And Seattle has to start somewhere. At some point, we are going to be well behind the curve in terms of what we provide our citizens. This committee works on a lot of digital equity issues primarily, and there’s nothing to say that if we did a pilot project, that we could not direct the City to find the answers to the questions that are unanswered right now, within that criterion. Because we’re actually talking about–correct me if I’m wrong–a five year period with three years of operational support. That $5 million is to build and operate for a certain number of years. I think it’s between two and three years. There’s nothing to stop this committee, if we are an advisory group, to say find the answers to the questions that the City should do within that time.’ There’s nothing to say that we can’t say that.
Ben Krokower: There actually exists something like what Christopher was talking about for fiber buildout. I’ll show it to you later.
Sabrina: The City of Baltimore is seriously considering this right now. Residents raised $20 thousand with their crowd funding effort on this. And I’m not sure if Colorado, where residents of cities, towns and counties, 44 of them, last week voted for local entities to pursue municipal broadband. I’m not sure if some of those 44 had some head start on it with some community funding effort. Someone could look into that.
Joneil Sampana: I just want to add: Look at the green sheet listing. There’s an additional $250 thousand appropriation to DoIT to develop a public Wifi strategy. Does that correspond with this?
Michael Mattmiller: No, that is a separate green sheet. When we talk about broadband and access, one of the things that we’re focused on in DoIT right now is there are 15 percent of households in the City that do not subscribe to internet access. And yet, we know that most of those homes have access to broadband. So we are trying to think about how to bring internet access closer to those households. And the most frictionless way to access the internet is Wifi. Our data tells us that those 15 percent of households without wired internet access probably have a Wifi capable device-a smart phone, a tablet, a laptop of some kind. We worked with Councilmember Harrell on this green sheet to envision what a Wifi strategy would look like. Not a study, but an actual strategy that would say if we can bring Wifi to these neighborhoods in the City, we can get that many more people online. And, by the way, we as a City are not the best ones to go out and maintain that infrastructure so what can we bring to the table to encourage our providers to deliver that Wifi service as a public benefit. If we as a City can help them, logistically make that happen, perhaps add some assets to the project. We are encouraged and hopeful with that. Could be funding we receive next year that we would be able to increase City-wide Wifi in 2016.
Beryl Fernandes: I saw that in the Comcast proposal. Wifi hotspots. And when I was a member of the Broadband Committee, I also took on the last mile options and focused on Wifi infrastructure as a possibility for meeting at least some of the needs that we have at much less cost than anything else. So I’m glad to see that we’re all talking about the same thing. I’d just like to see a little more coordination between the broadband and the Wifi approach. I think they go together pretty well. They’re not mutually exclusive.
Ronald: So when it comes to raising City bonds to finance
Michael Mattmiller: The funding source for this particular green sheet is general funds. So this would be cash revenue that comes into the City.
Comment: Is there some kind of use policy that would be implemented by the board for people who are using …[unintelligible]
Michael Mattmiller: The green sheet is silent on use policy. Should the green sheet be passed and come to fruition,that would have to be examined.
Ben Krokower: I know we’re running out of time. I have a very short one sentence statement. Since the vote is going to be very soon and we do want to influence anybody’s vote, if we want to do it now, I have one sentence: CTAB supports the allocation of $5 million to the municipal broadband pilot project.
Amy Hirotaka: And then we could say that on Thursday, right?
Nourisha Wells: Friday. Friday or Monday.
Amy Hirotaka: And there is opportunity for public comment?
Nourisha Wells: Yes.
Jose Vasquez: I wasn’t going to go specifically for the $5 million, but just say ‘support.’
Ben Krokower: Support the green sheet.
Jose Vasquez: Support the City moving in this direction.
Ben Krokower: Would it be okay if I drafted just a one sentence thing, and maybe read it later?
Nourisha Wells: Yes. If there are no further comments, we will move on to the Cable and Broadband Committee vote to approve comments on the Comcast cable franchise renewal.
CABLE AND BROADBAND COMMITTEE UPDATE: CABLE AND FRANCHISE RENEWAL
Amy Hirotaka: Sorry, everyone, for the multiple documents. This has been a little bit of a fire drill for the Cable and Broadband Committee with my co-chair Ben right there. Everyone who worked on it, raise your hands so you can get some credit. [applause] There are a couple of typos, but this came out of conversations with stakeholders, working with these folks, talking to people in the community, talking to the Cable Office here, and this is what we came up with. One thing to keep in mind is that although the cable franchise update does not address Internet Essentials, we were told by the Cable Office that this is still an opportunity to go on the record about Internet Essentials if we want to, so we might as well, which is what we did. So that takes up the most real estate here. That is what we’re most interested in from a digital equity perspective. That said, we did have recommendations for the cable channel line-up, which included more cultural language programming that could be added to the limited basic tier, because diverse programming is often at the higher level tiers, which are, price-wise, inaccessible to a lot folks in the communities. And customers qualifying for the low-income discount should have access to all the possibilities on Comcast’s network. The Internet Essentials stuff–and hopefully everyone around the table has had a chance to glance at this–including Seattle as a pilot for extending Internet Essentials to seniors, like they do in San Francisco, improving ease of enrollment. This is a huge problem that we hear about over and over again. Century Link has the Lifeline eligibility criteria, and our recommendation is that Comcast match that. Improved customer service: This is something that’s been talked about a long time. And the 3b, which is having Comcast not do the customer outreach, and instead themselves outsourcing it to another organization or City department. Then we have the free Wifi hotspot idea, and we have the FCC’s definitions of broadband to match that. The final item is about phone customer service, which we’ve heard has been a problem. We don’t have a lot of data on this, but it seems reasonable to ask for better customer service interactions for cable customers. And this is actually what they’re seeking comments on, things like customer service. Dan, do you have anything to add?
Dan Stiefel: You seem to have covered most of it there. One thing we discovered that I had no idea about was that people living in low income areas and low income housing, they want to have TV. They want to have internet. A lot of times, the buildings are multi-dwelling units. We talked to some people who run them and it’s very problematic getting these buildings set up for that. And also, one big problem is Comcast. They have a great sales department, but sales departments really don’t want to sell low income packages. If you call them, they don’t even list that as one of the options. So a lot of these people in these low income places, if they have access they will sign up for more than they can afford. And then they end up in debt. They can’t complete their payments and are now in debt. The people that we talked to that have to manage all this, they said that this is a huge problem. It’s really unfair that low income and disadvantaged people–we have the low income discount for the cable package, and we have Internet Essentials. So, between Comcast and the City, how can we help get this directed to the people who need it, instead of people having to fumble around sales departments? That’s not fair. They’re not trained for that. So, we suggest some options. One field in there is just if Comcast could provide some free Wifi to common areas of low income housing in low income neighborhoods, if they would be willing to provide that, then these people who have a device could get internet or streaming. It’s another way to solve the problem. That’s one thing I wanted to speak to. I thought that was particularly salient from what we heard when we were canvassing about.
Beryl Fernandes: The one thing I don’t see is what’s in it for Comcast o take on Wifi at this point. I can see the concept of having Wifi in these areas but that would be a place where I would think the municipality would jump in.
Dan Stiefel: Comcast’s gross is $700 million a year on the franchise. And they do give back to the City in many ways. Everybody’s heard of Technology Matching Fund (TMF). So this would be just one more thing where perhaps they would be willing to establish some Wifi hotspots in established areas of public housing, places that the City could establish. And they would just give that back to the community to help with the digital divide.
Dan Moulton: Just a point of information: from your studies going out and talking to low income people and your comment that sales people will oversell and the person will become in debt, beginning in January of next year, your credit rating will be changed in the way it’s figured out. It will change. It’s not just by getting a credit card. So if you go into that on a utility bill or a Comcast bill, it will tank your credit rating. This is going into effect next year. So your point, there’s an added saliency to the point that you made. I just wanted to get that FYI out there.
Amy Hirotaka: I think that the overall theme here is that Comcast across its sales staff and its customer support staff do not talk about the low income options including Internet Essentials and the limited basic TV package and the discount that you can get on the limited basic, based on your income eligibility. So I hope that that made it through in this document, because that seems particularly pervasive in the way that Comcast interacts with their customers.
Christopher Sheats: I just have one technical comment on what Comcast can do. So you have the Xfinity thing where they automatically hijack the router and turn it into their own Wifi hotspot for anyone else who uses Xfinity to use that if they’re around it. So they already have the infrastructure in place technically.
Beryl Fernandes: On item number one, where we’re talking about ‘reflect Seattle’s diverse population on channels in programming to better reflect cultures and languages,’ my concern there is that Seattle is actually a very white City, so we’ve got a very small percentage of the population So, if we go with that, we’re likely to lose the intent of what we’re trying to get to.
Karia Wong: I just looked up the statistic at the City’s web site. If I remember correctly, there was a number for different languages spoken at home. The number was actually pretty big. Twenty to 30 percent.
Amy Hirotaka: Twenty to 30 percent of people who speak a language other than English at home?
Beryl Fernandes: Well, it’s also … listening to what John Giamberso said last week about his diversity report, I’m just not sure that we should be doing it in proportion to what the demographic characteristics are out there. If we want to perpetuate that characteristic, then sure, we should do that. But if what we’re trying to do is to encourage more diverse programming and viewers and all that, then we want to go beyond.
Amy Hirotaka: I fully agree. I wonder if we could strike the word, ‘statistically?’
Beryl Fernandes: I’m not worried about the words. I think you’ll take care of that. Can I get another word in? I’m sorry and I know you’ve done a tremendous amount of work here. On item number 3b, where we talk about outsourcing the outreach, and it says, ‘to establish City departments’ can you say jusst ‘outsource’ and let somebody decide to whom? I like the idea. If you’re going to outsource to nonprofits, rather than City departments, better. I’m not sure we are in a position to say what’s the best.
Dan Stiefel: I think the intention there was ‘either City departments or nonprofits.’ Either or both. City departments are probably not funded or are incapable of it, and there are nonprofits like Solid Ground, Interconnection, Centerstone. Centerstone already does a program like this with the energy program. This is kind of creative, really, it’s not being done except for Centerstone. Wave gave us the idea. We met with Wave and they said, ‘we’re not set up to do it.’ They said they don’t have a program now, but we’re thinking of setting one up. They said ‘we’re not set up to deal with this sector in terms of applications and support, registration, outreach. Our whole model is oriented to a different sector. They said, we’d be willing to work within a partnership with some other organizations. We had two meetings. This was four or five months ago. So that’s where the idea sprang from, and it certainly would probably take the City to broker such a thing, but we’re just throwing it out there.
Beryl Fernandes: I understand that. The distinction I’m trying to make is between City departments and nonprofits. And I advocate the nonprofits who already deal with that traffic. That’s what I’m saying. Rather than a City department, which already has plenty on it’s plate.
Dorene Cornwell: One of the things that came up in the discussion is that in 98118, people speak 100 different languages. Each household might want five Spanish channels or some Chinese or Vietnamese channels. Part of my thinking was, if it’s not possible now, move in a direction that would make it possible so that you can customize your package. Because people who get their language services from Dish and Roku, and others–and some of them are better deals–but if Comcast wants to be competitive in Seattle, they need to make space and have some kind of configurability and that’s a nuanced way to present it, but if it didn’t make it into the report, that’s something you can address, but that seems like it’s important to speak to. There’s some kind of an east African network that is just for emigres, and I don’t remember the details and how much they want public access, but they’re recognizing that there are communities who want access.
Joneil Sampana: I’ve got a question to clarify item 3bi. I truly believe in public/private partnerships, but can you explain or give example of the City as a broker. I’m not sure the City actually does that. If it does, can you give an example?
Dan Stiefel: The City votes on franchise, so they’re the regulatory agency. It seems to me that the City would make the connection. If you have the cable companies and the nonprofits trying to get together on their own, it’s going to be kind of slap-dash. I think it takes a coordinating agency to help put the two together. And maybe you have an issue of scale, too. You might start out with something like a test pilot, but then if it really works, if it really does take the burden off providers, it makes sense to stream to nonprofits, who could use the funding and they’re set up. They have good relationships with the low income. They can deal appropriately. Then it can be scaled up. That would take some real coordination. Somebody has to be managing it. It just seems like the City would be the party. I don’t know.
Dan Moulton: In addition to that point, if the nonprofit were to take this on, in their fundraising, etc., I would want to see that kind of a partnership going on. May I talk to you later about other cities that do digital stewardship, and that could be a model to help. And that’s worked in other cities. I have no comment on all of your fine work and what you will be presenting in a couple of days. Let’s just maybe talk later.
Amy Hirotaka: The other thing is next year we have the Wave franchise update. So we have an opportunity to come up with a better model.
Dan Moulton: I really like what you’ve done and I have nothing destructive to say about your presentation. I would just like to talk to you about some of the things that I have run into with people that I have worked with on this.
Dashiell Milliman-Jarvis: Joneil, I think one example that we could point to is something that CTAB does as a City body in terms of the Technology Matching Fund (TMF), which is funds that come from franchise fees and we put them to nonprofits to provide a service to the community. That’s not the best model, but it’s an example of a City body acting as an intermediary between funds collected from a private entity and being put toward a nonprofit to provide a service. Probably, it would be more useful to have DoIT or DSHS or some other City department to provide an RFP to whoever is likely to be interested, and running the outreach.
Joneil Sampana: I understand. The word, ‘broker,’ has a strong connotation.
Beryl Fernandes: I have a comment and a suggestion on the second page, Customer Service, item E, under both A and B. Here it’s suggesting … I agree that we should ask for better customer service and all that. The trouble I’m having is with the implication–it’s pretty explicit, actually–that is the international call centers with their foreign accents that are major or significant cause of the problem. I’ve used Comcast customer service for many years with mixed results, much as anybody else, and with as much criticism and frustration. But I have to say that’s I’ve had as good and as poor customer service from people right here in the United States as I’ve had with international. And I am pretty attuned to many voices and languages and so I don’t know whether it’s easier for me, but even putting it down here sends a message that I’m not sure we want, as a board to be projecting. So we definitely should ask for better service. What I do, and I mentioned this to John Giamberso, I ask for a level 2 technician. I said this to Tony Perez and he smiled and said he hadn’t heard that. But that’s what I do, and it works.
Amy Hirotaka: This is something that we talked about a lot, and I agree.
Beryl Fernandes: Ben and I have had this discussion before, so I’m not sure we want togo into it again.
Dan Stiefel: The difference between the international call centers and the ones here is they’re not on Comcast’s network. So they can’t connect to your router and your computer at home and see how your router is set, see if the router is working, measure the wiring going to the router. They don’t have any of that capability. The only they can do is send a message to–it’s not a user problem. All they can do is order a truck or send a message to reboot the router, which you can do. So there really is a very substantive difference for tech support between the international offices and the United States ones. They tend to transfer around a lot. You get over there and you can’t get back to the United States, because they get paid on a call basis. So you can get transferred three times, say in Manila, and you’re spending hours. So we’re just hoping that there can be an escalation so tht it’s not just about how quick do they answer the phone, which is the metric that they’re regulated on, but how long does it take them to solve the problem. And as they’ve shortened the pick up time, they’ve lengthened the call resolution time. So that’s what this is trying to address.
Amy Hirotaka: Since we only have one minute left, I think we can address some of Beryl’s concerns in the way that it’s worded, certainly. But I do think that the switch to the call time based metric has been problematic and that is certainly linked to them having call centers not here in the U.S. If we need to explicitly call out the non-U.S.,, I don’t know. So maybe that’s something that we should word smith a little bit, because I completely understand where you’re coming from. So, in the interest of time, what we did for the FCC document, which again was being voted on right when we submitted it, I can go through a number of things that we’re planning to address and then we can do a vote that’s basically a motion that says, ‘with these changes we vote to approve this document. Does that sound okay to everybody? So the first thing we’re going to do is strike ‘statistically.’ Karia did look up the numbers and it is over 20 percent of homes that don’t speak English at home. And Seattle’s, what, 69 percent white? Something like that. I think that there would be more channels if it was statistically represented, but I don’t know. City departments in 3b, so where it says [unintelligible] customer support for low income and senior populations to establish City departments and nonprofit service organizations, I say we change it to ‘or.’ Is that okay?
Beryl Fernandes: That’s fine. I just want to see it go to a nonprofit organization instead of a City department.
Amy Hirotaka: Okay and then 3bi, where it says ‘the City serving as a broker,’ change ‘broker’ to ‘steward.’ And then, improve customer phone troubleshooting, I think in a couple places we are going to have to leave where it says ‘non-U.S.’ I think that part of the problem is probably 1b2 which is ‘all tech calls cannot be solved by the first non-U.S. based intervention.’ That one, I agree, could be seen as pretty blatantly calling out the fact that you’re using someone overseas. How would you feel about striking that one? Does anyone else feel as strongly as Beryl does about this?
Michael Mattmiller: If I could make a suggestion, that we put this on the activity that you want to correct and less on the location.
Nourisha Wells: So, the problem was not the time that it takes to answer, but the time that it takes to solve the problem.
Dan Steifel: Right. There is a great disparity between the tools they have in one location and the tools they have in another.
Michael Mattmiller: Make sure that all technicians have the ability [unintelligible].
Comment: On that point, I was thinking that the issue is probably a secure network. And they can’t export the security to non-U.S. call centers. We’re not going to be able to fix that. If you took non-U.S. and overseas and turned it into ‘out of network.’ Define the terminology as ‘in network’ and ‘out of network,’ you don’t have to say U.S. Out of network call centers can’t effectively do these things. You don’t have to get into why. As Michael was saying, it’s all about accelerating the response time.
Michael Mattmiller: If I could suggest another change for point number five. The FCC definition of broadband, 25 megabits down, for megabits up. Thank you for all your hard work.
Amy Hirotaka: So as far as the customer service improvements, that’s going to take a little doing. It’s not just something we can talk through right now. So I’m not sure how we should vote on that.
Nourisha Wells: This would have to be submitted when?
Amy Hirotaka: By Thursday.
Nourisha Wells: Will you guys be getting together or are you going to do it through email to wordsmith it?
Amy Hirotaka: Email.
Nourisha Wells: I guess I should ask how does everyone feel about it. If we read the information that they have given in the feedback, that they will take that into consideration and still come up with something that we all feel comfortable with.
Beryl Fernandes: I feel confident that Amy has heard what we’ve said and I fully trust that she will be able to come up with language that is acceptable.
Nourisha Wells: I agree. Anyone object to that? So, can I have a motion to accept that?
Joneil Sampana: I move to accept it, including the changes.
Jose Vasquez: Second.
Nourisha Wells: Next, we are going to move to the Tech Matching Fund criteria and turn it over to Jose.
Jose Vasquez: Can I start with the Digital Inclusion and move to that?
Nourisha Wells: Yes.
DIGITAL INCLUSION COMMITTEE UPDATE
Jose Vasquez: Does everybody have a copy of this? First, I’m planning on having the next Digital Inclusion Committee next Tuesday, November 17, at the Beacon Hill Library and that’s going to be a new member introduction to the Technology Matching Fund Committee, so if you or anybody you know might be interested in joining the Technology Matching Fund review committee, definitely show up next Tuesday, 6:00 p.m., at the Beacon Hill Library. I’m trying to coordinate with Donna to see if she can make it and give an overview of what the Technology Matching Fund is, the history behind it, and the purpose behind it. My purpose for starting it so early is that I want to engage as many people as possible early on, so that when the actual process starts in January or February, we can hit the ground running and be ready to give up some good funds to some good projects. I’m also working with David around maybe having one of our Digital Inclusion Committee meetings as a networking event for potential applicants to get to know each other and enable the possibility of collaboration, sharing resources, or just learning from each other what their ideas are. I think that through this committee we should be a template to help encourage as much collaboration and leveraging of resources as possible. At a nonprofit, sometimes when we’re applying for these types of grants–I know it’s not intentional–but at times it makes us compete against each other, and I feel like we should at least enable some type of collaboration. So that’s the intent behind that. I’m looking forward to that. I’ll update the board once we have more details on that. But then that ties in with the actual updating of the Technology Matching Fund criteria, which we’ve discussed here before and we’ve had discussions among the Digital Inclusion Committee. So we have some wordage update, and I hope this reflects what we have been talking about around providing more opportunities for community involvement, at least in the input, in the leadership and the actual implementation of the projects. I believe that the feedback was that some of these funds aren’t really — the purpose of these funds is to address Digital Equity and public access, but at times it misses actually building capacity among these under-represented communities, so we want to be more intentional about that. So maybe updating the way this is worded, we can be more intentional about that. Also through the work we’ve been doing, introducing new members early on, providing more opportunities, we can be more intentional about it. We’re proposed to update in the community participation section to say “provides opportunities for community involvement in the project implementation.’ Because currently it’s understood that community involved was as volunteers. Say an organization or a group applies to this fund and they do a survey,that can count as community involvement. Where this is more of a natural project implementation. So, in the staffing, in the leadership, of the project or along those lines. As was point four, plans for project were designed by input by project participants, and that they have an opportunity for a significant role in carrying out the project. So not just including them to get their feedback, but including the local community members in the actual implementation. Any questions?
Christopher Sheats: Can you please repeat the time and place of the meeting?
Jose Vasquez: Tuesday, November 17, 6:00 p.m., Beacon Hill Library. Any other questions?
Beryl Fernandes: Just one comment: You mentioned getting a more diverse panel for reviewing, and I think that’s great. And you also talked about starting the process early. I would just emphasize that need for that outreach in identifying people in each of the communities as soon as possible.
Jose Vasquez: That’s why I plan on doing this early on and personally being intentional about recruiting a diverse review panel.
Beryl Fernandes: And maybe David or his staff can help identify people for us, because as volunteers, we only have so much time.
David Keyes: I do have some time for inclusion of other members in the TMF review committee. If it goes according to the same schedule for 2016, then it would be announced in January with workshops roughly the second week in February, and then the applications due the second week in March. And then the review process to start with CTAB members.
Joneil Sampana: Love the edits, on the evaluation portion, I’ve always wanted the evaluation side of the house to be more descriptive of how to demonstrate the success. So, if nothing else, I’d like to add the impact of the project relative to community problems solving, civic engagement, community building or employment. This is a more evolutionary idea, but for the Technology Matching Fund, I’d love to suggest that a portion be reserved for a slightly different type of matching fund. For lack of a better term, I’d call this a civic innovation matching fund. Similar to the goals of TMF, but these would be projects that use the civic digital assets that we currently have in the City of Seattle, like open data, using that type of digital assets to encourage civic and digital engagement in the underserved communities. I think that could be slightly different than setting up a computer center for folks. It’s still in the same spirit, but at a different maturity level, for lack of a better term. I hope that with the spirit of this fund, we can go long towards taking into account some of those things that we already see happening in the community.
Nourisha Wells: I think being able to identify what those types of projects look like and then reach out to them to apply.
Jose Vasquez: I was going to mention that I like what you’re saying, but at the same time I don’t want to specifically narrow the scope of who can apply. I would encourage us staying as open as possible. But, possibly through the orientation of the review committee process, that’s where we can maybe identify which focus, or areas do we want to strategically invest in this coming year.
Joneil Sampana: I’m not saying put a limit on it. Two years ago, there were two buckets of money. I think one was for civic engagement; the other was for digital literacy. And the applications were so overlapping–what made it this bucket or that bucket? So, what I’m trying to do here is clarify. There’s a line. You can apply for this kind of project, or that kind of project, but we’re including everybody.
David Keyes: The reason we brought them back together again was because we were seeing civic projects that clearly involved a training element, so that’s where that overlap was. So that to some degree, the distinction was a tough one to do. And so a project that creates civic tech or employs civic tech in order to include underserved or less digital literate residents required to be effective due to that training aspect.
Beryl Fernandes: My concern about that, Joneil, is that we’re likely to get techies applying for that one bucket of funds and generally they’re not coming from the community. They’re not coming from disadvantaged groups. They’re coming from privileged groups and we’ve already had examples of that, where they are using open data and doing information. In places where it’s 30 percent Latino, and they’re all low income neighborhoods in which they’re doing the work, but there’s no low income people on the team itself. That would concern me.
Joneil Sampana: I was hoping this would actually address that. People from the community, because they see people using these tools for underserved communities, [unintelligible].
Beryl Fernandes: That would be lovely. That would be ideal. So if we specify that we want this–and it would be a training opportunity for them to learn how to use the tools and then be able to help themselves, empowerment, that would be beautiful.
Joneil Sampana: And the tie in would be employment.
Beryl Fernandes: Yes, but make it really clear. I’ve seen this happen over the years. I ran a matching fund for sustainability a long time ago and we had people coming who were great grant writers and they knew the technical aspects, but it didn’t involve the community. It was doing it for them. And so they got the jobs. They got the money.
Joneil Sampana: Well, the spirit of this came from the college entrance program run this summer, where we had students from the university, underserved students, that went through this visualization that led to two jobs, one at Microsoft, and Live Stories. And if we can create a pipeline through this type of funding, that would be my suggestion. It’s just a suggestion but we’d have to work on it.
Karia Wong: I just need a little bit of clarification. The last line, ‘plans for the project will be [unintelligible] with input from the public by participants,’ which with I would agree. But then they have an opportunity for citizens in carrying out the project. So I kind of wonder what kind of significant growth you are expecting. Because for instance, I put myself into the grant recipients. I’m creating a project, trying to raise or increase their literacy to a complete literacy level for parents who are starting to use a computer. Yes, I can get their input. What kind of challenges that they have. But in terms of carrying it, how can it be [unintelligible]. Because they are participants in the project. Certainly, we can ask for feedback, but I just want to clarify what you are expecting.
Jose Vasquez: I was thinking of that more as in that application process, identifying the sustainability of the project. So for that example, if the parents go through a training program, maybe they can become the instructors. That’s a good example. Providing an opportunity for the project participants to take on a leadership role.
Karia Wong: The grant is just for one year, right? And most of the time, based on my experience working with immigrants and their families, if they can get a job, they will take the job. Even though they said they want to volunteer. But when it comes to a choice between making money and volunteering, they take the work. Because volunteering was only based on a promise they made a year ago. It’s just not practical for me.
Jose Vasquez: I get what you’re saying and I agree. I just think we’re seeing it from a different perspective. But that’s a good point to bring up.
Karia Wong: In reality, there were many times that we tried to apply for grants with volunteering matches. By the time we’re getting ready to submit, we need that confirmation. Most of the time, they can’t because they have other commitments and responsibilities.
Jose Vasquez: And that’s what I’m hoping this address. Where asking for volunteer commitments, actually carving out funding for those community members to be paid for their contributions. I hear what you’re saying.
Karia Wong: For me, it’s kind of confusing. Part one, where we gather the matching, the volunteers at the same time are getting paid for what they do, I’m not sure how many people will get this.
Ben Krokower: I’ll say I support this change and I also think to address what you’re talking about. I don’t think it’s necessarily either/or–oh we’ll put this change in we’re not going to get anybody that’s actually compensated. If there’s a project that case the community members in the actual communication, compensate them, pay them, include them in the implementation, those people get scored higher. That’s their project that we value, all things being equal, slightly higher than one that would bring in a third party consultant, say, to do the training. To me it makes sense to make that change.
Jose Vasquez: We don’t have to approve this right now.
Karia Wong: The first item, I’m trying to figure out how to address the applicants.
Jose Vasquez: We’re going to take it back to our committee, because I think it should be clear what our intentions are.
Karia Wong: I totally agree with the intention of the change of wording. At the same time, I think it would be better if you could clarify the wording.
Nourisha Wells: One more comment, then we have to move on.
Dan Moulton: You mentioned the networking. Does the TMF have a program similar to the Department of Neighborhoods (DON) fund? Where people go and learn how to apply and is that what you want. Is there a place for people to talk off line? I think there’s a place for volunteers to teach people how to write the grants. I just don’t know what you’ve used in the past for the TMF.
Jose Vasquez: I wouldn’t know the exact answer, but yes.
Dan Moulton: So you do have people from the City of Seattle who go out into the community and teach them how to write grants?
Jose Vasquez: Yes. But specifically, because I don’t want to assume that the City is willing to provide more resources to this. I would definitely encourage that, but I don’t know.
Beryl Fernades: That’s a very good point Dan brings up, about actually helping certain communities to write the grants and it’s basically coaching. It’s hand-holding. And I had to do that.
Nourisha Wells: Sorry, but we have to move on. You guys can definitely talk online. Thank you. We’re going to take a quick two-minute break because we’re behind.
Nourisha Wells: We’re going to have our Privacy Committee update from Beryl.
PRIVACY COMMITTEE UPDATE
Beryl Fernandes: As I briefed to you month after month over this past year of all the activities that are going on with the Privacy Committee, the outreach that we were doing, the collaborathon, which is a series of three workshops that we held at Douglass Truth Library, all of this to culminate in a Privacy Symposium. We initially thought we’d have the Privacy Symposium before the end of this year. That’s not going to happen. It’s going to happen in 2016 instead. And two things are going to happen. I’m not going to be on the board, so I will be doing the Privacy Symposium as a community member. It will have changed from being a City project to being a community project. And as some of you know, the third quarter of last year after Michael Mattmiller had a chance to come in and get his feet wet with privacy, he decided on a Privacy Initiative and a Privacy Committee, and developed a plan for what he would do. And, of course, that’s his prerogative. He also said that the staff were stretched thin and so he would not be able to offer any support to us if we went ahead with what we had been planning to do, which were the collaborathons and the Privacy Symposium. And so, after talking with the chair and with other volunteers, I said, what would you guys like to do. Because we had the choice of dropping it or turning it over to somebody else. And they said, no, let’s go for it. If you are willing to continue to lead this project, let’s go. So, that’s what we’ve done. We’ve marched full steam ahead. About two weeks ago, the Seattle Community Police Commission asked me to come in and give them a presentation on what we have been doing on this project. It was a really good meeting. They were very receptive to what we’re doing and they want to participate on the Privacy Symposium. So it’s coming. What’s very interesting is to watch this intersect at this point in time. Because they’re at a point where they have to make some decisions on body cameras and who gets impacted. So we will be fleshing all of that out. So even though I will be off the board, I would love to have involvement of anyone who wants it. The way I’m going to do it, as I have before, is to make a list of the tasks that need to be done, and those who want to sign up for those tasks are welcome, and this is going outside, as well. Mostly the people who are interested in this are nonprofit organizations that already serve the marginalized and vulnerable communities. And they are gung ho, and really excited about what we’re doing. So, that’s where we are. And yes, we do have a sponsor. We’ve had three different volunteer offers for sponsorship. It’s coming together pretty nicely.
Nourisha Wells: With the Privacy Committee, if we agree at the retreat to continue to participate in this committee, would our partial responsibility be helping to plan this symposium? Is that what you would want the Privacy Committee to participate in?
Beryl Fernandes: I think at this point, the majority of the planning has been done. At that point, we will have a list of tasks that they can sign up for, just as a lot of other organizations will be doing.
Nourisha Wells: Okay.
Beryl Fernandes: And I would love to come back and brief you any time.
Nourisha Wells: Awesome. Next up, we have Joneil with E-Gov.
E-GOV COMMITTEE UPDATE
Joneil Sampana: I just want to hand out the minutes. We had a meeting on the fourth. Check out the minutes and we’ll have another meeting on the [unintelligible].
Nourisha Wells: All right. Ben is going to give us his two sentence statement from earlier.
Ben Krokower: That’s one more sentence than I probably have. “CTAB supports the creation of a municipal broadband pilot project. City Council green sheet 144-1-a-1 would advocate funding such