December 13, 2016 Meeting – Seattle Community Technology Advisory Board
Topics covered included: Statement of Support of City’s Declaration of Sanctuary City status; Century Link presentation on status of fiber broadband and Prism rollout and customer service issues; discussion on elections; and reports from the Cable and Broadband Committee, E-Government Committee, Privacy Committee, and the Digital Inclusion Committee.
This meeting was held: December 13, 2016; 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: Amy Hirotaka, Jose Vasquez, Nourisha Wells, Heather Lewis, Karia Wong, Mark DeLoura via phone, Chris Alejano, Joneil Sampana
Public: Dorene Cornwell, Dan Moulton, Christopher Sheats, Dan Stiefel, Lloyd Young, Matt Torgeson, Charlotte Lunday, Kate Schneier of YMCA, Sue Anderson (Century Link), Mary Taylor (Century Link), Christy Uhrig (Century Link), Shannon Campain (Century Link), Yolanda Minniefield (Century Link), Sarah Abromowiz, Sidney Chin, Rob Osterman,
Staff: Jim Loter, Virginia Gleason, David Keyes, Derrick Hall, Cass Magnuski
29 In Attendance
Meeting was called to order by Amy Hirotaka.
November Minutes approved with one edit. Delivered to Virginia Gleason and David Keyes 12/14/2016.
Amy Hirotaka: The next item is the Century Link presentation. I know that we have a couple of people running late. So, we could bump up a couple of other things. While we have just a moment here, Virginia and David, today we’re going to be talking about the elections. We are not actually going to be doing them.
Virginia Gleason: Right. And we’re going to be talking about people who want to screen some of the applications, as well as whether we want to revive previous applications that were submitted but were not selected.
Amy Hirotaka: Right. Just wanted to be clear on that. Maybe we should first move up the statement of support for the City’s Declaration of Sanctuary Cities status. There are print outs of that right here. We circulated it earlier today. sorry for the really tight turnaround time. I think that it does require a vote from us, too. If anyone has any edits, they would be welcomed, too. And then with the edits, we could vote.
Jose Vasquez: Did everybody get a chance to read them?
Heather Lewis: Just put an ‘of’ between ‘amount’ and ‘concern.’
Amy Hirotaka: Thank you! I didn’t get any email feedback on it, either. So, I think that we can go ahead and vote on it with the ‘of’ added in between ‘amount’ and ‘concern’ in the first sentence. And then, hopefully, Virginia Gleason will be able to help us figure out if we PDF the letter and send it to Mayor and Council, or what happens next. But the first step is to approve it. Do I have a motion to approve this official CTAB statement supporting Seattle’s status as a Sanctuary City?
Jose Vasquez: Would it be helpful, since this was so last minute, to leave it open to discussion for at least 24 hours? Then do an online vote? Can we online vote?
Amy Hirotaka: I don’t think so. I just looked at our online bylaws. There would have to be notice and …
Heather Lewis: How many do we need for a quorum?
Amy Hirotaka: We need thirty percent, so that would be four of us. So do we have a motion?
Heather Lewis: I so move.
Amy Hirotaka: And do we have a second?
Nourisha Wells: Second.
Amy Hirotaka: All those in favor? Opposed? Abstentions? This statement passes. Do we have all the folks from Century Link now?
Mary Taylor: You do.
Amy Hirotaka: I’m guessing that you would like to begin, Welcome. You’re welcome to sit or stand if you have a PowerPoint that you’re using.
CENTURY LINK PRESENTATION: STATUS OF BROADBAND AND PRISM ROLLOUT; CUSTOMER SERVICE ISSUES
Mary Taylor: We actually have two separate files. We’ll start with the map. There are two on there. We’re switching up the order because I think it makes more logical sense since we’ve got newer CTAB board members from when we first started having discussions. To introduce myself again, I’m Mary Taylor. I’m the director of state and local government for Century Link. We appreciate you allowing us to come. We’ve been waiting to come and give you an update on our deployment and to answer some questions around what we’re doing in the City of Seattle. For those of you who are newer members, about three or four years ago, we reached out to CTAB. There was a big demand in the City for broadband or enhancement of broadband facilities. When Century Link acquired Qwest, we discovered that there were many ordinances in the City that were actually impeding us, not only from deploying new broadband equipment, but we couldn’t even repair existing equipment. So CTAB, along with some community members, stepped up and supported changes to those ordinances. We really haven’t come in and had a robust discussion about what that’s done since those ordinances have been repealed. So, that’s what we really wanted to do, to give you a brief overview of our deployment. Sue Anderson will speak to that.
One thing that Virginia Gleason indicated, before we move into that update, was that there were some questions where you wanted a brief overview of the federal Lifeline program. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the changes with the Lifeline program. I didn’t have grey hair when they first came out with it, so that just tells you how long it’s been around. But the FCC recently took an action to take what was historically a voice subsidy and turned that into support for broadband, given the change in peoples’ habit these days. So that went into effect. The customer actually has two options. You can either continue to take the discount on their voice services, if that’s what they want, or they can opt to change that over to a broadband subsidy. It’s $9.25 credit that they get. The broadband has to be a 10×1 connection in order for the subsidy to be applied that broadband connection. That went into effect on December 2. So, it’s fairly new. There are still a lot of things that are being resolved. There are a lot of requests for reconsideration of the order, and some details to be finalized with the FCC. But, for the voice program, you had to be an eligible telecommunications company, and the bar was pretty high. There were a lot of requirements for reporting that were pretty onerous, so you didn’t really have a lot of people that were participating in that program. When I say, ‘people,’ I mean companies. Just because they didn’t want to have to deal with a lot of the paperwork. Century Tel, later Century Link, has always been involved in the Lifeline program, and will continue to be.
The FCC, in looking at revamping the program, recognized that they didn’t have as much participation with as many companies involved in that program as they would like to see. So, what they’ve done is lowered the bar a little bit, trying to encourage companies that historically hadn’t in the voice program to try to opt in to offer that discount to their customers through the broadband program. It remains to be seen who actually participates or not. We certainly are going to do that. Really, what it does is the customer has the option of –again, it’s a $9.25 credit. They can choose voice, or if they’re in a qualified area, for broadband. The process right now is still in flux. Ultimately, what they want to do is have a national entity that will be doing all of the verification. There’s a set criteria that says when you do or don’t qualify. Right now, the individual companies are doing that verification. One of the things that they want to do is get a single point of contact nationally. I don’t expect that that will be in place until probably the end of 2017. They’re getting ready to let an RFP right now, but the goal is to have a national verification company, whoever they select, in place in 2017, and have five states on board, using that process. I think that might be ambitious. We’ll see. I think by doing that and taking away some of the requirements to have to certify the customers and keep those records, I do think that that will bring other companies into the program that might otherwise have not participated.
There are still some requests for reconsideration, some things that are still being vetted with the FCC. So, it’s not complete yet, but it is stood up, but not fully operational, I guess, for lack of a better term. But if somebody came to us today and wanted to pursue Lifeline right now, the process would still be the same. They’d fill out a paper application and they could choose. They could actually marry Lifeline discount up with the Internet Basics program. I know that was one of the questions, as well.
So, there will be more press on that. You will have to talk to other communications providers to see if they’re going to decide to participate in the program or not. But that’s kind of the high level of where things are right now. You’ll probably see a lot of activity coming from the FCC, and probably a lot of notices for reconsideration. The only thing that’s really changed — this is one key point — is that the wireless folks are opting to participate in the program because the broadband connection is 10×1. Their argument was that they have to offer, where before they were using flip phones, now they have to offer smart phones. And because of that pretty hefty expanse. what they did was they were able to negotiate with the FCC. So when somebody connects with a company for the broadband offer, they are locked in for a year. And the idea is so somebody who doesn’t connect to get the smart phone and bail off. For the voice product, if somebody were to come on and wanted to use the discount for voice, it’s a 60-day contract. So that’s something you’re going to hear, but there is a rationale as to why they put that contract in place. That does not exist today in the Lifeline world.
Hopefully, that gets you what you’re looking for. As a program matures, they may start to put some of these programs together and we may come back and talk to you about it. They’ve got the updated qualifying criteria. We’ve got it listed on our web site. I could certainly send it to you, Virginia, if folks are interested and want to see what that is. It does vary slightly by state, because of the state programs also can add different programs to it. Washington State did not have a Lifeline program any longer. The legislature did away with it a couple of years ago. It’s pretty cut and dried. You’re not going to see what’s there today is going to be there, even when they get the third-party administrator out. If you want me to come back, once it matures, we’re happy to do that. I’m happy to answer any questions once I get the qualifying material. So, with that, I’m going to turn it over to Sue Anderson, our vice president for Washington State operations. I’ll let you explain your role instead of me doing it.
Sue Anderson: Thank you for having us here tonight. We certainly appreciate it, as Mary said. My name is Sue Anderson. I’m the vice president of operations for the State of Washington. So, anything that really touches our network–you see our Century Link vehicles out and about–all of those folks report in to my organization. And I said it would be good to take just a couple of minutes to give an update. We were here a couple of years ago, talking and asking for your assistance to help us with some rule changes. At that time, we were really having a hard time fixing our equipment and deploying new equipment. particularly in the right-of-way. With your assistance and those in the community, we’ve had some great changes with the City and some of the ordinances and rules that have now allowed us the opportunity to get in and repair our equipment and deploy new. SDOT established a new rule that really helped us get there, and we’ve also done a lot of work with Seattle City Light. They helped provide some new standards for all of the telecommunications providers, which has been very helpful for us.
Still, a couple of things that we need to do: DPD is working on a rule that will allow telecommunications equipment to go on private easement. That’s still in play. And the other thing that we’re really finding very challenging is we have so many apartment and condos in the City, and we’re not able to get high speeds to these. They may have fiber running right in front of these buildings, but the wiring inside of those buildings does not support high speed. So, as a City, we really have a challenge with how do we get into these buildings, how do we either upgrade the wiring, look for new technology, look for wireless solutions. I know Michael Mattmiller spread a lot of passion around. How do we take care of this specific community, because it’s such a big part of our City right now. There is definitely more to come on that, but that’s a collective problem that we’re trying to solve in the City.
But with the rule changes that have been implemented, we have been able to invest millions and millions of dollars here in the City to deploy our fiber network. The picture that you’re looking at up there on the screen was back in August of 2015, when we deployed our Prism TV product. We had just about 100,000 people that could subscribe to gigabit service at their home on this map. And the thing that I really appreciate about the opportunities and the changes that were made is it really gave us an opportunity to go very quickly to pass over 100,000 households in less than a year. We were deploying over our aerial networks, so the changes that were made with Seattle City Light really made a huge improvement in opportunity for us to deploy very quickly. If you go to the next map, please Derrick?
This is the present view of gigabit deployment within the City. You’ll see quite an improvement. We’re up to over 155,000 households that can get gigabit speed at their homes. And we also had the opportunity to deploy our Prism TV product to these folks, as well, because it’s running over our fiber network. So, we’re just excited to be able to show this map. And the opportunities and the rule making changes have allowed us to really bring speed to the City. There are not a lot of cities out there where residential customers can buy gigabit speed. We know that we live in such an amazing technology City here with all of the big technology companies. Just even the CTAB board is really reflective of how important technology is in our City. So, we’re super excited to show this deployment. And we’re continuing to invest more into our network and get further and further into neighborhoods.
Like I said, this deployment is primarily over our aerial network. The next portion is looking at the buried environment, where we have a lot of copper facilities. And there is a lot of new technology that’s coming out that is allowing us to use our existing copper facilities, and continuing to put new electronics on the end of it that allow us to render higher speeds to our customers without having to dig up the roads. We’re looking at a lot of those technologies, and you’ll probably see a few more of those. Vectoring is one that we’re talking about right now. Some of you may be familiar with it, but it’s basically putting electronics in our cabinet boxes that allow us to push higher speeds over the copper network to peoples’ homes and businesses, as well.
Mary Taylor: I think that’s what make the DPD rule making so important. We’ve actually settled on language. It’s just been on hold. But the Directors’ Rule, once we got that passed with SDOT–the primary concern was putting new cabinets out in the right-of-way was the appearance to the community. So we came up with some mitigation requirements to wrap cabinets and so forth. But ultimately, that rule really contemplates being able to first go look towards private easements, so you could put it on a customer’s property, landscape it, and it’s out of the right-of-way. So that’s why the DPD rule is kind of at odds with the direction the City has given. Again, we’re going to revisit and push that because we’d rather have a cabinet on a private easement so that it’s not impactful of the right-of-way. You will probably be hearing right after the first of the year of us pushing again on DPD because vectoring and new technologies are going to require equipment. For areas like Magnolia, that was an area you were concerned about, you’re not going to be able to deploy those faster speeds without being able to deploy this rule.
Sue Anderson: Any questions on the map?
Mary Taylor: One other point. This was residential. This bill was really focused on single family homes, residential homes. That was the whole intent and purpose of this particular bill. We do have a different program that deals with multi-tenant buildings, because they are one-offs. You have to go in and talk to the landlords. You have to get permission. You have to make sure the wiring will support it. So, we are still continuing to do that. It just takes some time. The other thing that this does is this bill is geared towards residential customers. It also facilitates our ability to serve business customers. Focus here is residential but every time you run fiber further out into your network, it also benefits business customers. But we have a whole different program for how we deal with business customers. These are ready to go today. If somebody calls us, they say they want 40 mbps, 100 mbps, we can light them up like that. On Prism TV, all of those 155,000 households can get it. Immediately they’re enabled.
David Keyes: Of those 155,000, how many of those are single family versus multi?
Mary Taylor: They’re all single family. There is a smattering of MDUs in there, but it’s really insignificant, David.
Sue Anderson: Any more questions on this section?
Jose Vasquez: Would you be willing to share a map of the current multi-families? Not right now.
Mary Taylor: The problem that you’ve got is that you can’t tell until you go in and look at the wiring. So we can’t….
Jim Loter: But who are you already providing?
Mary Taylor: We can tell you the number of households, but to hand you a map would open public record to our competitors. That makes it difficult. We could certainly sit down and have a discussion about it.
Jose Vasquez: We’re just looking to get a better sense of what has been done.
Sue Anderson: Sure. Generally, anything that’s been built in the last five years has been lit with fiber. So, it’s gigabit enabled. Unless we have some sort of marketing agreement that has kept us out of the building, we put fiber into anything new in the last five years. So you have to think about all the new downtown, Belltown, Capitol Hill areas that have all the new MDUs generally most of those have fiber in them.
Mary Taylor: The other thing that we’re doing is we have reached out proactively to Seattle Housing Authority to ensure that anything that they’re building new, that we’re in the building and have access. I met with our engineers to make sure that we’re communicating with them. We’ve talked past each other for a while. We’ve also reached out to them for other low income housing opportunities, and said, you know, we’ve got fiber right here, can we look at the wiring? So, we’re trying to open that type of dialog. It just takes time, because everything gets done one off. But every new building, they have a contact. They reach out to us to make sure that we’re in that building.
Jim Loter: Can you speak for those who don’t know, you mentioned the marketing agreement. Can you speak to the FCC’s position on exclusive access and what you meant by marketing agreement versus exclusive access agreement, and how that works?
Sue Anderson: Well, let me talk marketing agreement. There are certain buildings where different providers have come in and have provided a bulk marketing agreement. Basically, they have negotiated with the building that they will be the exclusive provider, and everyone has to purchase from that company, whether it’s Wave or Century Link or Comcast. Fewer and fewer of those buildings–most of the buildings nowadays let multiple providers in, and they court multiple providers. And then it’s up to us to market to the consumers in those buildings. That’s what I mean by agreements, and how we’re not in some buildings because we didn’t win that bulk agreement.
Jim Loter: Okay. Sure. The contractual agreement to provide exclusive access in a building is not under current law. Is that correct?
Mary Taylor: There are some prohibitions, and I don’t know the fine point on i, Jim, because I know that there are buildings where you are getting door fees. It’s just a matter of them not promoting the other services. But I know that we’ve gotten into buildings, and I think that a lot of those are more legacy and are falling away. Most building owners now, I think, are coming to the realization that it benefits their residents to have multiple choices.
Jim Loter: I just knew that there was kind of a nuance distinguishing exclusive access in the marketing stuff.
Mary Taylor: I’ll get you an explanation, but they are theoretically prohibited. But in practice, they are in place. And I can’t explain how they navigate that.
Heather Lewis: You mentioned that the $9.25 discount can be applied to the Internet Basics program. Do you know what the monthly cost is to activate the account?
Mary Taylor: On the Internet Basics? It depends on what speed. There are several different speeds, but we’ll talk about the entry level speed. It’s at $9.95, and the first year, the modem is free. So, theoretically, it’s $.50 plus tax. Your two through five level goes from $14.95, and there’s the modem fee, which is about $9.95. So, it’s about $10. And again, that’s for the 1.5, which is what the program was designed for, but if you’re in one of these fiber areas, those customers, because of the lowest speed we offer is 40 mbps, they’re getting 40 mbps for that price.
Dorene Cornwell: A couple of questions: Does your sales arm have information so that they won’t try to sell me 40 gigabit internet if there is no gigabit anywhere feasibly near my building, which I think is actually the case. And also, my building has lots of people who will apply for Lifeline, and so I just want to know that they won’t be trying to sell 40 gigabit speed where there is no 40 gigabit speed.
Mary Taylor: They literally go through after we deploy one of these areas, and we literally go through and inventory everything. When we deploy a fiber area, we actually go in by address and we inventory every single address. Could there be an address that doesn’t make it in? It’s human input, but that’s the process. They literally go and string the fiber, put the electronics in, and go into every single address and say, you are now qualified for a gig.
Jose Vasquez: Just a quick comment because that did happen to me. I got an advertisement that I was eligible for a gig. I called and set up an appointment and somebody actually came out and spent a whole day looking at the wiring in my building. And then they ended up sending somebody out to tell me, no, you’re not eligible.
Mary Taylor: The buildings, themselves, that’s an exception because we usually don’t get called out. On a multi-tenant building, we generally do not inventory any of those.
Jose Vasquez: I’m sorry, it was the whole street.
Mary Taylor: Yes. You and I talked about that, but there were areas in that street that were eligible. So the inventory at the time was accurate. Now, what we do when we deploy in new areas, when we go in and forget there’s a multi-tenant building, we don’t qualify that address with gig. so, that’s the exception that we ran into.
Karia Wong: This is Karia. I have a question about the application process for the Internet Basics. People are to receive a call to confirm their application. There have been challenges for people who do not speak English. So, I’m wondering whether there has been any resolution for that?
Mary Taylor: Karia, regarding the resolution for that, I’m going to meet with you. The way that the application comes through is that we have to do the verification first in order to attribute that somebody is qualified So you can’t place the order. You can’t set up an appointment because we don’t know if the customer is going to be qualified. So that necessitates a call back to the customer. If the customer doesn’t answer, then we have a follow-up letter that says, ‘Your order is on hold. Please call us. We can finalize your order and get you set up on this program.’ There is no way for us to delineate when we have somebody’s application if they don’t speak English as their primary or secondary language. What we’re working on, based on the conversation I had with you is we worked with our Internet Basics team. And they are going to reiterate at the time that the clients place the order that there is a training to specifically, while you’ve got assistance on that line, is to say you need to understand that you’re going to get a phone call. If you don’t respond, you’re going to get a letter. And you have to respond or we will not be able to connect the service. They’re going to reemphasize that, and the idea for your clientele, Kari, is that you will have an interpreter or somebody that’s assisting those folks, and it has to be crystal clear. We’re looking to you, or whoever is placing the order to help those folks understand the process. So that will be emphasized twice.
Karia Wong: I’m thinking about the larger group. There is a very high percentage of immigrants who don’t speak English.
Mary Taylor: They need to call and then we put them on with an interpreter. We’ve got folks here that work with the customer call centers and that run our customer services organizations. But they process when somebody calls. If they need an interpreter, we have an interpreter service. But again, when somebody places that order, what we’re going to be communicating to whoever is on the line with us is [unintelligible].
Karia Wong: My question is how are you going to share that information?
Mary Taylor: I’m going to meet with Karia to go over all of this. We are assisting customers across the nation with this program. We’ve got to go through the verification process. And, Karia, I don’t know how this process is going to work once the FCC gets their own independent verification process in place. So, I think that may be something that you might want to take up and discuss, or see how the FCC’s verification process is going to work. Maybe they have figured out some process that will simplify it. But the bottom line is you cannot set up an appointment with a customer to install service or place an order if you don’t know that they qualify. Because you will ether do one of two things. You will set them up and they will be paying full freight, which is not good for the customer, or you’re going to set up expectations. So the process has to be that we have to communicate with the customer.
Dorene Cornwell: I have a follow-up question to that. Besides Karia’s agency, are you connecting with other agencies that serve immigrant populations? Or are you also connecting with agencies such as the Deaf Blind Service Center, where this guy, he uses his phone line for a fact. I know this because he lives on my floor and I have interacted with his phone system a number of times. He is not going to call you back. I don’t think he even uses video phone, because he’s very low vision. He and I trying to read tiny print is an exercise in close vision and magnifiers. It’s kind of humorous. I know that’s a small segment of your customer base, but it’s a comparatively large segment of the Lifeline customer base.
Mary Taylor: The process that I just explained, where we’re going to make sure that we verify explicitly, is going to happen on every phone call when somebody calls and places an order. It’s not unique to Karia’s group.
Dorene Cornwell: I know you just have to figure out how to do it for deaf/blind people.
Sue Anderson: With that, I’d like to introduce our new leadership rep here with us today. So, Shannon Campain is our senior vice president and general manager for our consumer market. And Christy Uhrig is our vice president of consumer sales and care. She recently joined Century Link and are in charge of our customer care center. They bring a lot of depth with them. Previously from DirecTV, and they really know what customer service should look like and feel like. So, Shannon, why don’t I give you a few minutes to give us some updates.
Shannon Campain: Thank you for having us, and making it as cold as possible. It’s a nice change of weather. As sue had mentioned, we recently joined the company. This is our twelfth week. We started around the time that our last meeting occurred. So we weren’t quite up to speed on the changes we are going to make, but I think you’ll be pleased. I know I’m pleased at the fast progress that we’ve made. So, as far as my background, just to share a little bit with you guys: I had a very distinct consumer sales and retention background. I was with DirecTV for 16 years. As part of that experience, one of the things that I managed was partnerships, relationships, and retention marketing. So I’m proud to say that since 2006, I managed retention. We had the number one satisfaction rating. We really focused on execution and had some principles that I think we’ll bring forward into Century Link. In my last year of employment with DirecTV, AT&T was our owner. And as part of that ownership transition, I moved into managing all of sales and retention for residential for AT&T, which gave me a combined total of 25,000 employees and well over 200 call centers, mostly on-shore and some off-shore. Prior to my employment with the pay TV areas and the like, I was part of Nissan North America. I was there for seven years, and that’s when Nissan was still based in Los Angeles. for my last two years there, I worked on product strategy. I’m very familiar with, and I think that you’ll find, is I really strive for finding a balance with value propositions. Taking away the pain points. Trying to make the ease of the customer experience as great as possible. The complexity of this business, just in the very short time we’ve been here, we have talked about the map, and couple of examples, Jose, that you brought up, I made myself a couple of notes on some opportunities with marketing. It takes a lot to stand up a service that s supposed to be seamless. Internet is supposed to be a commodity, and I emphasize ‘supposed to be.’ Because the complexity of the technology certainly challenges us to refrain from exposing all of that complexity to the consumer. The challenge that I walked into during September was, ‘Hey, let me tell you what’s going on in Washington, and in Seattle, specifically. And it was stunning to think that we were putting customers through that experience. I think what I had to keep grounding myself in is that we were putting our customers through that experience with the intent of a better outcome. So, the whole idea was to remove complexity, and instead what we did was the engagement unfortunately pushed us into a more complicated model. So, it’s really great for me to be here because I feel I’ve brought a lot of different experience with the largest video service, with DirecTV, and we’re able to bring a lot of that experience. Before we dive into that, I’ll introduce you to Christy Uhrig, who is actually our vice president in charge of all our consumer contact centers.
Christy Uhrig: Good evening. Thank you very much for the opportunity to come and speak with you. In terms of my background, it has also been in the consumer space. I have a long history with DirecTV and most recently with AT&T. And in my tenure, I have had the opportunity to work in different areas of the business. I started as a rep on the phones and think that that is the hallmark of my career. When you have that frontline customer facing point of view, that is something that you carry with you, because you’re the one getting yelled at. You’re the one wondering why did they make this policy. Why can’t they make the systems work? So that is something that has always been a halo over all of the decisions that I make and what I do. Since then, I’ve worked in a number of different areas through the organization. Most recently, I was leading a couple of our sales channels, but I’ve worked in marketing, IT, project management, etc. Throughout all of that time, what really is the cornerstone of my experience is the ability to execute on transformational change. So, I was always the one that was called to take on this group, because they were under-performing. Or go fix his area, because we’re not meeting the expectations of our customers. So, it’s something that I’ve been able to consistently do time and time again. And coming to Century Link, where there is certainly a renewed focus on growing and building the consumer business, I think that I’m well-suited to help take the organization to that next level, really putting the focus back on the customer and balancing what’s right for the business, which is also right for our employees, and growing in our markets, but also keeping that customer happy. Thank you.
Amy Hirotaka: I think Dan had a question for you.
Dan Moulton: Basically, I wrote it out and will give it to you. These are complaints that I received from low income people. It’s interesting that we have customer service people here. The first one was a Century Link Lifelong application. It appears that the customer that it was purposely delayed, causing the person to lose their telephone due to economic reasons. The second one, you lost the retention of a 15-year customer. It appears to be through poor information management of your financial customer accounts, where you kept giving him the wrong bill. The customer paid their arrears and asked to cut off, and you continued to bill him for services not rendered, and sent the low-income person to collections. So, I’ll give that to you.
Mary Taylor: Do we have names and phone numbers on here so that we can reach out to these folks?
Dan Moulton: I’ll have to ask.
Mary Taylor: I’ll give you my card and if you could get me their names, and I’ll hold onto this, but we need their phone number and permission to reach out and we’re happy to have a conversation.
Dan Moulton: At this point, they’re composing their letters to the FCC.
Mary Taylor: And that’s fine. We appreciate the input. Every one of these things that we get, we dive into and pull apart. And these ladies are experienced. They are the very reason that the company is refocusing and is why these ladies are here, and why the company has started from the top down with management on the consumer business side. And we’ll go through their presentation, and I’m the first to admit — and with Karia — we’ve had conversations. We have stumbled. But we are refocusing and we’re committed to it. That’s why you see the organization changing the way it is. If you don’t take care of your customers, you’re not going to have a business for very long.
Dan Moulton: Thank you. I can do a sidebar with you because I understand what the customer service person told them on the lifeline, and on the other, as I said, it seems to be a management issue where people are having the wrong information, and perhaps it’s a computer issue. But I won’t take up time in this meeting. So if you would like to talk in a sidebar.
Amy Hirotaka: Do we also have a presentation to run through?
Mary Taylor: Yes.
Amy Hirotaka: Okay. So, we’re running a little low on time. Let’s get through the presentation and we’ll open it up for questions. We’re already almost over time, so I appreciate your sticking around and let’s get to the presentation.
Shannon Campain: Okay, we can try to get a little expeditious here, but you guys can certainly pace us, because we have the time that you guys need. So, if you want to keep going. This, you see us so you don’t have to see our picture. Let’s talk a little bit about philosophies around the customer service end. It’s certainly important to know and maybe something you guys care about is during my tenure at DirecTV, I didn’t only manage retention, and as Christy mentioned, we wear many hats. And so part of my responsibilities were also direct sales. So you can imagine that a lot of the conversations I had with my direct sales team is where retention really started, which, to me, was always with the sale. It’s how did you set the expectation. How did you manage them coming on board? As part of that philosophy, we really got together as a company and said we need to stand up some very distinct charters around customer experience. The way that DirecTV approached that is me in my capacity as the sales and marketing leader, we had a customer service leader who really managed the care function, and then we had our field senior vice president. And the three of us teamed together and put the principles forward, and stood up customer service several years ago at DirecTV. In contract, the environment that we’re dealing with in Century Link, what I see is a lot of passion and a lot of concern for what we’re doing with the customer. But a little bit of divisiveness on how to accomplish the goals. So, one of the first things that you’ll see — and Christy is going to talk to us about the way that she has really approached the customer experience from a contact center perspective is in an effort to try to address every situation, every scenario, every permutation of a problem that can come across. Instead of having a really cohesive approach to customer experience, what we found was the prior leadership was really standing up a lot of different groups. And the way that that would manifest itself as a customer is I would call in, I would have a situation, ‘Oh, I can’t help you. I’ve got to transfer you here because I think that’s the group that does it.’ And then you find out, ‘Well, I only have a little piece of it, so now I have to transfer you to one more place.’ We’re all consumers. In some form, we are all consumers. So, the apathy that sets in and is just almost unavoidable, because you know as a frontline agent, that probably half of the calls you’re going to take that day aren’t really intended for you. And you’re going to transfer to someone else. So the game really becomes, where does it belong? So, really good intentions but really poor execution. Right? So, that little thing I told you about at the beginning, there is no way to avoid the complexities of what this business is because the technology just layers itself and even some of the explanations Sue was sharing with you on how we do build-outs, it’s almost unavoidable. But the problem is that we’ve overtaxed the frontline to try to deal with that and try to get through that. And they can’t do it and still make it seamless to the customer. It’s too much of an expectation, and it’s very unfair for a management team to put a frontline agent in that situation. This is really our philosophy. It starts with how we create high performance customer-centric culture. I say it with full transparency, because it’s not decisions that I made, but it’s decisions we’re trying to correct. The intent was there. It was how do we create higher performance and more customization around how we serve our customers, and the very significant differences in the problems that they’re bringing to us because the technologies are so different. However, we really stumbled with that because what ended up happening is we created so many niches, then there was no more universal aspect for how to control and manage customer treatment. And that’s really something that we’re changing. The operational excellence, again, I would say that the approach and the intent was so different in how we were executing that you couldn’t avoid the differences in how we would articulate it to the customer. It’s almost like agent roulette. It just depends on which niche you were in and how much experience you had with that problem as to how well you could deal with it. And, oh, by the way, to complicate matters further, we really put an inordinate amount of pressure on the supervisors that were there with the original intention to help their teams. We put them into situations where they’re spending 25 to 30 percent of their time on administrative tasks to try to avoid all of that complexity and hide it from their agents. But in fact, what they did was just remove themselves from engaging with their agents, which means that the agent further struggled. You can see where these principles really start to take heed into this environment that we’re dealing with now. So, ultimately, one of our goals in customer service is to be an employer of choice. That means that you can’t put a frontline agent in a situation where all they’re doing every day is transferring half of their calls, struggling with answering the other half that they take, and feeling accomplished at the end of the shift. It’s not distinct opportunities to say that I want to treat my customers well, and oh by the way, I want to do it well operationally. they go hand in hand. I can’t treat the customer well if I didn’t prepare my frontline, and I can’t prepare my frontline if I didn’t have the focus on operational excellence to make that happen. lastly, I would say, is really being the voice of the customer internally, and that seems to be something that was largely missing. When I compare my experiences with DirecTV and AT&T, in particular, as I mentioned, 14 years ago we started at DirecTV getting our relationships with all of the large, major telco fighters, including Verizon, Qwest and Bell South at the time. So, I have a lot of experience with how different companies do these things. And one of the things that I can tell you is that the varying degree of how you make your voice heard for the customer in large companies–and you guys probably know this being here in the tech area–really will determine how committed your company is to the customer. If you think about these different pockets and these facets of all of these different people very passionate to make a sound customer experience happen. But there are lots of different voices, you know. You kind of heard it right now when you were calling in. All you hear is a lot of different voices, but we heard your voice come through distinctly because you were overcoming that background noise. What I found in Century Link is when I walked in, there was a lot of background noise and a lot of competing voices. So we’ve tried to really centralize this and create this element of continuous incremental improvement.
Amy Hirotaka: We’re going to have to wrap up within the next 10 minutes, and I really do want to give folks the time to ask questions. I really appreciate your time and this is all super interesting, but I would like you to get to the heart of it, which is what is going to happen to make things better.
Shannon Campain: Christy, do you want to talk? Because really what I think it boils down to are the pretty significant changes we’ve made in these short 12 weeks around how we’re organizing ourselves. You’ve already heard the advocacy. Hopefully, it’s ringing loud and clear for you between Christy and I. And that is being heard loudly, not just in our field offices, but also in our corporate office. I can tell you that the advocacy is there. The championship is there. Now it comes down to the hard work, the heavy lifting, and reorganization. So, Christy, do you want to touch on how you’ve made that happen?
Christy Uhrig: These folks are not where the unique group is stood up, right? There are a number of changes that were put into place to address and mitigate specifically the customer concerns that we were hearing here in this market. Number one is a dedicated team of agents. So anytime a person calls, it’s going to get routed to this group. They received additional specialized training. Any time there is an order placed, we have a subject matter expert go over to the rep, go though a 23 point checklist on the order, because, as Shannon mentioned, the systems and processes are rather complex. So we need to make sure all of those pieces are accounted for. And on that, we have seen our escalation volume decrease about 11 percent in our solutions group, and about four percent in our retention group. That is a significant measure of success in our eyes. And the next step is to take this program that has essentially been incubated for this market and roll it out to the rest of our agent base, as a best practice. And then be able to introduce the customers here back into our general population. Because we’ve been able to shore up all our processes. And I think one important nuance that exists there, but I just want to highlight for you, is remember the experience I was describing before? Traditionally, what would happen is if we tried to do anything specialized in tech was there, but the way that it would get executed was through a series of transfers. And what the team has been able to do is identify as the call is coming in what market that call is coming from and what is the destination. So, they connect right away, and they treat it more like a universal agent so that there isn’t all of these transfers that need to occur. We’ll be trying to create more simplicity and really ease the pain points, I would say.
Shannon Campain: Would you like to highlight ….
Christy Uhrig: In the short term, those are some of the key ones. There are a number of changes that we’re working towards in terms of system changes that will improve processes. There is a map of incremental changes and improvements we will be making.
Shannon Campain: Yes, I would say if we’re going to take away anything–and we’ll wrap it up, Amy, so you can ask questions about this–if we’re going to take away anything from the experiences at Century Link and what we’ve been able to change during our few weeks of tenure, it is the recognition that the frontline has to do more than just represent the product to the customer. They have to be the voice for the customer. So, they’ve found their voice, and what we’ve been able to do with that is to get them the tools they need from a training perspective. And also, one thing that Christy has been able to do with her team is to balance that ratio of supervisors and agents so that you have more supervision on the floor. So they can just grab somebody instead of let me put you on hold, let me transfer you, let me find someone else, I’ve got to ease my way through all of these different opportunities on how to handle your articular issue as a customer. We’re feeling really good about the progress we’ve had. We’ve definitely seen the call volume decline, the escalations decline. We think that you guys have seen that as well, from the total number of escalations that you were seeing and we’re feeling so good about what we have been able to stand up in a short time. As Christy mentioned, we’re really using it as a beacon and we’re using it as a flagship sp that we can create that model across the other markets.
Amy Hirotaka: So, I think I saw that Lloyd Douglas has a question, Dan has a question, and then, Karia, you’ve already asked a couple of questions. If we have time, we’ll get to you. I just want to open it up to everybody else, as well. So let’s start with Lloyd.
Lloyd Douglas: Two questions: One, can you supply your own modem?
Sue Anderson: You can supply your own modem in some instances. If you’re renting our Prism TV product, you have to use our modem. But if you’re just buying to your HSI premise, some of the modems out there do work.
Lloyd Douglas: And the other question: Customer service-wise, how close are you going to get to the Nordstrom model?
Shannon Campain: A face to face interaction is very different than any call center experience you have. But what I will tell you, Lloyd, is that best practices would tell you that not only do you want to have customized solutions, but you want to have hand-offs that make that customer know. That’s a challenge that Nordstrom doesn’t have. Because when you walk into Nordstrom, you present yourself. Right? And you have a transaction for whatever you purchase, whether you have a receipt or you don’t. But you have some sort of interaction where you can visualize and you can articulate. The challenge that you have in a call center is that it’s almost like an anonymous transaction. All I have is what you’ve told me and any information that I have on your history. So what we are doing to get closer to what you would probably call the Nordstrom model, is as part of our frontline readiness propositions, we’ve stood up a team now, under my management, to say we need to make sure now that we have the right toolsets, which includes things like call flows and job aids. And that seems very tactical, but the reality is it helps an agent understand how to ask the right questions when they’re doing discovery, so that they can cross-reference the information and help you quickly, instead of telling your story, oh I can’t help you, let me transfer you somewhere else. Does that make sense? The nuances and differences of the in-person interaction. Or was there something else you were think about Nordstrom?
Lloyd Douglas: The on phone person could actually get something done?
Shannon Campain: Tell me a little bit more about what you’re thinking. I’m not quite following that.
Lloyd Douglas: If the frontline person is your main contact. Make that a good experience and make the rep have a good enough handle on the problem, that he or she is empowered to tell management to get out of the way and get things done.
Shannon Campain: Let me be clear. I don’t think today, Lloyd, I’d love to tell you that my biggest problem is that I’ve got too many managers in the way of the frontline from achieving success. Here is what the reality is. When people think about empowerment they think that management is preventing an agent from making good decisions. But empowerment really comes through tool sets. That’s why when I say we have a call flow, we have an improved fact repository system where agents can use information to make decisions. Today, they’re empowered to make decisions. The problem is that they don’t know what decision to make on your behalf that’s in your best interest. So half of the time, they’re having to transfer you somewhere else. Our approach to getting to the Nordstrom model as you would call it, is to empower them with information so that they can make good decisions on the customer’s behalf. Today, they don’t have the information readily available, because they don’t know even how to filter through it. Remember the day when you would go, ‘I need to find out some information.’ I’d go to the encyclopedia. I’d go get Funk and Wagnalls. That as my go-to. Then it evolved into now I have the internet. That’s great to have the internet, but if you don’t have a search engine to help you filter through the information, you can’t get better at finding what you need to know. And that’s kind of what the experience was like for a frontline agent at Century Link. We gave them a lot of information. And then we removed people like the supervisors that would be their search engine to help them figure out where to look to solve the problem. Now what we’re doing, and what Christy described in this market specifically, is empowering them beyond just saying you have the power to make decisions but we’re filtering the information and we’re saying this is how you can resolve the situation. And if you need more help, go grab your supervisor so they can give you other creative solutions. So, we’re not trying to put management in the way.
Amy Hirotaka: We should move on to Dan’s question, and then I think we’re going to try to wrap this up.
Dan Stiefel: Mary, I’m Dan Stiefel. We talked six months ago. For those of you who don’t know, I’m the vice chair of the Broadband Committee, and I switched over from Comcast to Century Link six months ago. I got caught up in the Prism billing snafu. And Mary, I have to say, you worked very hard. She spent a week looking into it. We talked several times. She worked out a work-around to make my bill correct, and I’m very appreciative of that. But I want to ask a little bit about progress on that. We were told that there was a system put in to help customers. Because when I had that problem, I made 11 calls before Tony Perez put me in touch with you. And then we got something solved. So, we were told that you were putting in a special routing system so that customers who had Prism issues would get to the people that were empowered with Prism capabilities and information. I’ve had a little bit of feedback on that, and wanted to ask you. Last month, my bill was showing $129, when it should have been $76. So I called in to find out about it. And I had to make three calls over two days. Finally, on the second day, after an hour and a half on the phone, I got a Prism person that you’re referring to. But my first two calls didn’t. And tonight, I called in again to check on this next month’s bill and I got someone who wasn’t familiar with it. And his quote was, ‘Bill for Prism or something else.’ And so, I want to ask, it doesn’t seem like that system is kicking in yet. I want to have you speak to that.
Mary Taylor: I can answer based on our experience and what you and I talked about and then I’ll let these ladies talk. The program that we’ve stood up is what Shannon and Christy were talking about with the subject matter experts to help the customers verify the orders. What I would like to do, Dan, is that program has been in place. I have tested it myself. I’ve placed calls from here and other Prism-enabled areas, and I’ve gotten to the right call center. I’d like to go back into your records and see if we can trace where it broke down. Because it shouldn’t work that way. I have actually tested it and the calls get routed to the dedicated group. And Phoenix is where they’re based.
Dan Stiefel: This guy was from Phoenix.
Mary Taylor: Okay. That’s the type of feedback that we can always use. Because we’re building it from the ground up. So I’ve got your information and I want to see what we can find as far as notes on your account. We track when you call.
Dan Stiefel: I just mentioned it because I happened to fall into that. What are they going to do about the Prism problem? Billing and integration in the long term? Are there any predictions about when that will be integrated?
Christy Uhrig: I mentioned earlier that between now and the end of next year there are a number of initiatives. System changes, unfortunately, take a long time to get into place. So, we’re shoring that up with our agents now. The next step is to work on logic and information that will give the customer’s detailed information and our confirmation letters on what they’re going to see on their first several bills. The third step that we’re taking is in May, we will have implemented a tool that the agents can use to quote that information to the customer. Part of the variations and issues is we know what the base package price is, but depending on when the customer’s account starts and bill cycle date, there are different degrees of probation, both from the base package any closing offers that are given, as well as taxation and surcharges. All of those different variables make it very challenging to estimate or calculate manually, and that is why we need the toolset developed to do that.
Dan Stiefel: It’s my understanding, originally talking to Mary Taylor, you essentially grew and bought up systems across the country. You’ve got disparate database systems. Prism is on one of them, and your other ones are on other ones. So you’re pulling back TV, phone, and Prism from three databases, and trying to put them into a customer’s single bill. It seems to me, as I’m an IT guy, that until they get integrated, you’re never going to get them to talk the language, a very complicated language of offers, and be able to communicate all of these small things that have to do with promotions. Is there a plan?
Christy Uhrig: May is the quoting tool, and then the full system integration when accounts will be created in one billing system is November.
Dan Stiefel: November? May for the next step and then November.
Mary Taylor: There is even more in between that of different things that are being implemented. They’re all being done incrementally and each one of those things is intended to help improve the customer experience. But let’s be real. It’s not going to be perfect until we’re all the way through that process. And the City is working on its own billing integration and know the challenges around that, especially when you’re bringing in multiple systems. But standing up the special call center was job number one. Getting those reps trained and double iterations of training, to make sure that folks understand, themselves, how these billing systems work, and how it deals with the bill period. Every one of those steps is all driven towards trying to improve the customer experience. But, you’re right, Dan, until you get them all in one system, even for the reps, say this tool is going to be great because they can at least set the expectation. The customer knows the first bill might look wonky, the second one is going to have some of the pro-ration charges. But by month three, this is what it’s going to look like. If you can inform a customer at the front end, that’s a much better customer experience than somebody manually trying to guess what it’s going to be.
Amy Hirotaka: We have a question from Heather Lewis, and then we’re going to wrap up.
Heather Lewis: Thank you all for coming tonight We appreciate your time. And the systems through which you intend to address some of these issues. For any of us who are interested in seeing the rest of your presentation, will it be available either by email or is there another way that we could see it?
David Keyes: If we have it here, we can post it and embed it in the minutes after the meeting.
Mary Taylor: Yes. It’s on a thumb drive, but I can send it to you, David, or to Virginia Gleason, and then you can post it. I just need that thumb drive back for tomorrow.
Amy Hirotaka: Just to wrap up, I wanted to say that what I’ve been hearing from folks on the Broadband Committee and City-wide is that it seems like there has been this piecemeal approach to addressing certain customer issues. So, I’m happy to hear that there’s going to be a more systemic approach to it. But I do think that we’re looking forward to the toolkit being put in place and hearing from you again.
Mary Taylor: We are, too.
Amy Hirotaka: Everybody, we’re going to take a five-minute break, if we could, and be back at 7:21.
Amy Hirotaka: All right, folks, if you’re having side conversations, could you take them out in the hallway. You won’t see this on the agenda because we left it out, but I’m going to open the floor to public comment. We’re going to keep it really short, so I’m going to keep everybody to under a minute.
David Keyes: Just for the record, people who arrived after the initial introductions.
Amy Hirotaka: Sure. If you arrived after we initially did introductions, could you please introduce yourselves? All right. Public comment. I’m opening up the floor for hopefully short public comment.
Dorene Cornwell: This is just another one of those topics to throw out there. At the Broadband subcommittee meeting, we were talking about the sets of services or how much money or requirements that come with the designation ‘cable service,’ and how, as different services evolve, what we’re sending over the wires, could suddenly decide it’s not a cable service. There are things like the PEG services, and things that support education and government and libraries that can go away if you change these requirements. What I’m wanting to know is what work is out there about preserving that functionality, even if a legal requirement goes away, or how are libraries evolving. I’m thinking about it for one specific point, which is I noticed when SHA sent out a letter about the baseline internet things. One of the things they talked about was a data cap. I went, well, I download a lot of books from BARD, which is the national library service for the blind. That could eat up my data cap kind of fast. I don’t think that should count against my data cap. I’m just throwing it out there that as more comes online and there’s this library function out there, what does or doesn’t count against a data cap.
Jim Loter: I might be able to address some of that, but I missed the first part of your question about libraries and how that plays into it. I think you really asked two questions. One was about the trend in seeing traditional cable service, the service that generates revenue for the City declining either through consumers choosing to not purchase the product, or the service providers changing the way the product is classified. Right? And then the second part was about data caps.
Dorene Cornwell: The second part is about data caps and library functions like in general, but in particular because I download books from BARD, and other audio files that are fairly large.
Jim Loter: On the first front, I can say we are tracking the revenue that’s coming in from the cable franchise and from the PEG fees. Tony Perez generally provides a good overview, and I’m kind of channeling him now I don’t know the details. All I know is that I visualize the line and it’s going down. We are exploring alternative sources of revenue to keep the services that are funded by the cable franchise and the PEG fees right now sustainable and viable for the future. So there is a number of different things that we’re exploring. But I think that we are facing the reality that if things continue on the current trajectory, who knows? It’s a matter of years. It’s possibly a matter of a decade before the service can’t sustain how we’re using it. There could also be drastic and abrupt changes at the FCC that may cause a more precipitous decline in those revenues. So, we’re looking at options such as creating a nonprofit organization that’s able to receive funding in the form of donations or grants to support this activity. We are looking at other sources of grant revenue, including things like the Community Reinvestment Act, that financial institutions can partake of, and that recently has been reinterpreted to be able to include funding digitally. Digital Inclusion programs, for example. So, there are a couple of things that we’re doing, but we definitely are concerned. And Tony Perez has spoken at various venues and has received national attention on this topic. If he were here today, he could speak more articulately about the problem. On the solution end, I can just tell you that we’re looking at alternative sources, because we want to maintain the Technology Matching Fund, and the Community Technology unit, and the Seattle Channel, and basically my entire division. I want a job. That’s kind of what it comes down to. David Keyes wants a job. We all want to stay doing the services and providing the services that we’re doing today. I can’t be more specific than that because we haven’t found the benevolent donor, or the truck of money hasn’t crashed into Seattle Municipal Tower yet.
Unfortunately, on the data caps, I can’t really speak to–and there’s a term that the providers are using for the services that they are exempting from counting on the data caps. Right now, as far as I know, that exemption exists mostly in commercial agreements between service providers and content providers. And not to support social services, libraries, school, education, those kinds of things. There is active lobbying that I know of that’s happening to the FCC to require carriers who are setting data caps to exempt certain types of traffic from counting towards those caps. I can do some digging and find some information and share it with this group. So that if you want to get more involved in that, you can.
Amy Hirotaka: I think that’s going to be a continuing interest, certainly with this board. It’s time to move on. I think we have one more minute. Thank you, Jim.
Karia Wong: I just have a comment. We need to call back to Century Link internet basic application. Because it’s actually causing a lot of challenges for people to get the service, because of the call back. What happens is the applicant actually needs to await a call from Century Link to confirm their order. If they miss the call, there’s no way they can call back right now, and there is no way to chase or follow up on the application. We end up making the call with the client to follow up and most of the time the application was not approved so they have to resubmit the application again. They have to go through the whole process a few times and then they get the service, if they are fortunate enough to get through it. Otherwise, they will have to keep coming back to us. Imagine that there is a large population of immigrants in Seattle. So it’s happening everywhere.
Amy Hirotaka: And Mary Taylor did say that she was going to meet with you on it, but it doesn’t sound like she has any solution.
Karia Wong: She has no solution right now. I believe that we have to push for a solution for that. Because this is not working. What if the person does not have a phone number? What can they do?
David Keyes: Do you call back with an interpreter?
Karia Wong: No. The last time I talked to Adam, we can request a Chinese interpreter on the phone. But it’s not guaranteed that they will have an interpreter when they call back. They said they can’t guarantee that they will have someone, an interpreter to be able to call back. So you don’t know when to call back. You can’t wait for the call because you don’t know what to expect. Even though we told them you should expect a call from Century Link.
Dan Moulton: I was on a team that provided a solution early on in technical support at Microsoft when Bill Gates was still there, for telecommunications for the deaf. This might apply to you. They set up an entire policy and process for when people received a call, etc. to get that to a specific group and to be able to handle a call and if necessary to do a call back. Instead of having to go through the State of Washington through TTY, they trained their own on TTY. And ty did it for both pre-sales and technical support. It was one of the few times that Microsoft would call you back and you didn’t have to pay for the call. But this may be a model that may be able to help you and them. In other words, it’s this ability to set up and arrange the call back in a manner that the customer can be helped.
Karia Wong: I think it’s not about just the call back. Just the whole calling back thing. Most of my clients, when they pick up the phone, they say, ‘Hey, how are you?’, and they just hang up. Because they don’t speak the language, and they were afraid that it was their fault.
Dan Moulton: Correct. But if on the application form the were indicating another language, that interpreter would do the call back.
Amy Hirotaka: And I think that what Dan is pointing at is there needs to be a process in place that works for the customers. There’s a model that he’s presenting…. We can talk about it in the Broadband Committee meeting, too. Let’s go ahead and move on. I’m going to hand it over to Virginia Gleason, who is going to talk about new board members and board member elections.
Virginia Gleason: A couple of things. One is trying to find out who from the board–and we’ll also extend this out to some of the board members who aren’t here by email–wants to participate in helping screen potential new board members. Nourisha is going to be rotating off the board, so there will be the one at-large position, and then there is the education position that is still open. And so there are two positions that need to be filled. So, Heather Lewis, you said you are interested in helping with the screen process, which would include reviewing the applications and whatever materials are there, as well as having either an in-person telephone conversation, or …
Amy Hirotaka: Yes, we do interviews.
Virginia Gleason: Interviews, okay. So, Heather Lewis, and is there anyone else?
Chris Alejano: Yes, I would be willing to help.
Amy Hirotaka: And, Jose and I did it last year, so we could help prep people and get involved as needed.
Virginia Gleason: Okay. And then, David Keyes, you were going to make some contacts about the education position?
David Keyes: Yes, I’m trying to track down who is interested at Seattle Schools. Hopefully, I’ll figure out who the chief technology officer is there, and who they want to connect.
Virginia Gleason: And then, the other question that I talked to David Keyes about last week, since this is my first time getting new board members in, a number of people have expressed interest, and there are also applications from people who wanted to be on the board previously, who were not selected. Or do you want to put out some kind of advertisement, whether it’s on the CTAB web site, or out through other sources to recruit board members. So, I don’t know what your preference is.
Amy Hirotaka: I know that we had a lot of good applicants last time. So, I think at the very least we could ping all of them and ask if they would like to be reconsidered. That would be great.
Jose Vasquez: I do like the idea of opening it broader. Maybe we can create some short message that we as a board and committee members can send out.
Nourisha Wells: When I first found out about the position, I saw it on an email.
Virginia Gleason: Well, I’ll work with David Keyes to put something together for the two of you to look at. And then, if you approve it, we’ll figure out the right places to send it.
Dan Moulton: I tried to encourage some minorities, but there are some minorities that are represented here who suffer inequality.
Amy Hirotaka: Thank you, Dan. I appreciate it.
Dan Stiefel: I don’t know how the process works, but I know with the technology advisory board, sometimes we get some technical things that come by. I was wondering if there is an criteria for having certain members to do this work, because computers are in everything, involved in every process. Digital divide, everything. Is there any way we can have these particular skills on the board. Do you approach it that way? Is there criteria, or do you do you just try to pick the best people that show up?
Amy Hirotaka: We don’t have actual criteria. We do strive for balance and skills. What we do is people tell us what they’re most interested in. We don’t have any sort of test for whether this is a technical person or not. I hear your suggestion that we have more technical people on CTAB.
Dan Stiefel: We certainly don’t need to have all technical people. That wouldn’t serve us well. But, to have somebody in each of the main categories–hardware, networking, telephony or whatever, and figure out which ones are important, it seems like it would be good to have a resident expert in some of the main areas.
Amy Hirotaka: Noted. Thank you. Dan, please keep it short, if you could.
Dan Moulton: Not as much emphasis on more diversity, in this case, on the technology, not just software development, but advanced manufacturing technology, etc. And we might also bring in some money from partnerships.
Amy Hirotaka: Good point. Thank you. From the board, is there any feedback?
Jose Vasquez: If I remember correctly, at one point, we mentioned the possibility of expanding the size of the board. I don’t know if that is still an interest.
Amy Hirotaka: I was unclear on what the process for that would be.
David Keyes: Technically, to expand the board would require an update in the code that establishes the number of positions. it would require the Mayor and legislation from City Council. If you wanted to make a recommendation on that, the first piece of that would be, like you’ve done on other kinds of things, get a formal recommendation from the board and a short memo on why that would be. You would seek the approval of Michael Mattmiller, the chief technology officer, who would then recommend that to the Mayor and Council.
Amy Hirotaka: I remember that Councilmember Harrell was actually the one that brought it up.
David Keyes: Yes, he asked that question of the board, and whether he had the recommendation.
Heather Lewis: Do you recall any proposed benefits to expanding the size of the board?
Amy Hirotaka: Well, I think it used to be 15. Now we’re at 10. And I do think that having more man and woman power is good. When we look around the table, we’re sort of dwindling in attendance. i don’t know if that would help that because that doesn’t make us more accountable by having more people. But I do think that our committees are suffering, at least a couple of them, from a lack of engagement. And having more CTAB members who are going then to be either on these committees or co-chairing these committees, it would also allow us to have a better, like if we had more slots to fill, we could have more diversity, meaning both racial and ethnic diversity and diversity of talent and knowledge. So, I actually don’t see much of a downside to it, except for the time that it would take to propose it, and then testify for the legislation, and all those things that happen. I don’t think, with the legislative calendar, that we could get it done for this next round.
Jose Vasquez: But it would be something to keep in mind while we figure out our work plans for next year, when we do our strategic planning. Just keep it in mind. There’s a possibility to extend the board so let’s keep those conversations going.
Charlotte Lunday: In the same vein, do you recall the reasons why it went from 15 to 10?
Amy Hirotaka: I think it was budget reasons which doesn’t wash with volunteers.
David Keyes: It was introduced in the time of recession, when the City was cutting staff.
Amy Hirotaka: And then, Virginia Gleason, did you have anything to tell us about elections?
Virginia Gleason: David, maybe you can help me, but the process is the two elected positions, the chair and the vice chair, and all of the board members are eligible if they are interested. I don’t know if you want to wait until next month’s meeting to throw your hat in, or some other way. You can spend as much time as wanted in next month’s agenda. If people might want to talk about why they want a particular position, we’re happy to set it up. However, we would like to go about doing the election for the chair and vice chair.
Amy Hirotaka: I think I would like to solicit feedback from the other folks who aren’t at the meeting. I know that last time, Nourisha led it and it was pretty simple. No one had thrown themselves in beforehand. We did a secret vote that was dropped into a bowl or a hat or something like that. But if folks want something more formal, more time to prepare a statement, or anything like that, I think that’s fine.
David Keyes: People at the meeting have been able to give a campaign speech.
Virginia Gleason: So, if you want, we can send an email out to include the board members that aren’t here, and get some feedback and then figure out how you want to do it for next month.
Amy Hirotaka: Fantastic. Thank you. And I will do that. Moving on to the committee updates. First up is Cable and Broadband. Karia, do you have anything to add to what we talked about thus far?
CABLE AND BROADBAND COMMITTEE UPDATE
Karia Wong: I’m not sure if Mary mentioned about the rate for the Internet Basics program. I got a number from her, which is about 5,200 households signed up for the Internet Basics program. The majority of them are in King County. That makes me curious because I know there are a lot more people that are eligible for this program. At my office, we help at least 10 to 20 new applications per month. When you do the math, I think they need to spread the word to more markets so that more people will be able to benefit from this program. And also, the application process is difficult for people to try to get service.
David Keyes: That number, was that a county-wide number?
Karia Wong: No, state-wide.
David Keyes: State-wide. 5,200 statewide?
Karia Wong: State-wide. and the majority are in King County. She does not have the breakdown number. The other conversation that I had with her was the application process. Instead of making phone calls, can the applicants have an application letter. Because I believe that communication breaks down, so that’s why the applications were not going anywhere. I believe that’s something that we still need to push on. In addition to that, in our committee, we also have discussed developing a database to keep track of all the guests who come into the CTAB meetings. So whenever a topic related to that particular person arises, we can ask them to join our meeting, to engage those people. We are working on that database, but we still need a discussion on what kind of information that we need to collect from people who attend the meeting.
Joneil Sampana: These would be citizens who attend the meeting?
Karia Wong: Yes. We’re still trying to figure out the logistics to use if we want to make it work. Because from the past, we know that there are a lot of people who have knowledge and experience in a particular area, and they might be interested to join the discussion. When we have scheduled that meeting for the future, we would like to engage those people.
Amy Hirotaka: Thank you. Okay, E-Gov Committee.
E-GOV COMMITTEE UPDATE
Heather Lewis: January is strategic planning month at the E-Gov Committee. Some of you may have seen an email that went out about that. We’ll be sending out a survey requesting community input on interesting work streams. That will be available on the social media channels and we’ll send it out to our core email list. If anybody else is interested in proposing a work stream for E-Gov, please let Joneil Sampana or me know. On the CTAB web site, currently it says that our January meeting will be hosted at Rainier Beach Public Library. This is incorrect. It will be hosted at Douglass Truth Library on Yesler. And that will be corrected within the week. That is all. It will be January 18, from 6:30 to 7:30.
Amy Hirotaka: Thank you. Okay, Digital Inclusion Committee?
DIGITAL INCLUSION COMMITTEE
Chris Alejano: We met on the 29th of November, and talked about a couple of things. First, the Technology Matching Fund, where we just continued the conversation around wanting to pull in additional data and feedback from grantees through personal conversations. I had a really good conversation with Meredith from Big Brains Superheroes, which I thought was a really good model for us to follow, in terms of reaching out to other grantees. Maybe even looking at some of the final reports to see if we can glean any additional information or feedback that could inform the 2017 process, or other priorities and things like that. One other point regarding Tech Matching Fund was that we were thinking about the possibility of being able to find business partners that could match awards that are granted from TMF. I know there is definitely capacity on our side to figure out who actually be doing that sort of thing, but David Keyes has been in conversations with Key Bank, for example, and tried to see what their interest would be in terms of either financially supporting a match, or perhaps doing some in-kind volunteer support. One of our thoughts was that we just need to have someone to jump into the pool with us and may pilot that as a way to entice other businesses or corporations to join in on supporting these local efforts that are happening with our grantees. So, more to be done on that. As we think about how either the committee or the board can be sort of like a broker between our Tech Matching Fund grantees and those businesses and folks that we know are out there and voicing support, but don’t know how to get engaged exactly. We also talked about trying to invite a TMF grantee to an upcoming board meeting. So maybe we can touch base with Virginia Gleason, and maybe Delia Burke, to figure out who that might be. We also talked about trying to set up a series of site visits to grantees for any board member or other folks in the room that would be interested. And things that I think would help us get more in touch with some of the work that’s happening in the community. Let them know that we’ve got their backs and wanting to support them if we can. We also talked about. apart from TMF, trying to establish a digital literacy coalition as part of trying to push efforts that are part and parcel of the digital equity plan. One thing that I know Mark brought up that has been on his to do list was to try to create an asset map of different organizations in the Seattle area that are trying to do that work. Whether that’s for youth or adult, or for elderly populations, just so we get a sense of where this is happening, and then perhaps figure out ways that we can create pathways for folks to access those providers. I think there is more to be discussed about what the coalition membership would be and the purpose, but it seemed in the vein of wanting to create more engagement among members as well as folks that are out there in the community doing this work would be a good idea to pull together another group that could do what we do. Whereas I think in our committee meetings, we’re so small. We have such great ideas, but it’s the capacity, the man and woman power, that’s a whole other ball of wax.
Amy Hirotaka: Thanks, Chris. Christopher Sheats, Privacy Committee.
Christopher Sheats: Briefly, we didn’t look at the surveillance ordinance because we didn’t have the material from the ACLU. So, we have pushed that back to next month. next month’s meeting will be at the Montlake Library on January 9, and we’ll have a proposal for the board by then.
Amy Hirotaka: We’ll have to put something on the agenda for that for January then.
Christopher Sheats: Yes. When I send it, I’ll request about 15 minutes. We discussed the array of things, which is technology that is being developed in Chicago. And Michael Mattmiller and Seattle are looking at. It’s a network of sensors.
Amy Hirotaka: Great. Thank you.
Chris Alejano: I’d add that the next meeting for Digital Inclusion. The CTAB meeting is set for the 10th of January, and we meet as a committee on the 17th. We’ve been meeting at Porch Office, Eliab’s shop.
David Keyes: And you’re also trying to do a gathering to start to talk with Delia Burke and I about taking some of the recommendations for TMF to start to discuss what the 2017 TMF looks like, and the changes that we made this past year.
Amy Hirotaka: I think a lot of us would like to be in on that discussion.
David Keyes: So that’s something we would put on the agenda for January here. I’ll share the information out.
Amy Hirotaka: As we wrap up, I just want to take a moment to thank Nourisha Wells for her service. She was chair right before me, and she was kind enough to help on-board me and I tried to download all the knowledge I could from her. She’s been an amazing CTAB member, so [applause] we will miss you so much.
Nourisha Wells: I’m going to miss you guys.
Heather Lewis: One minute for David Doyle. He has an update. This is in his words. Future of Privacy Forum will not be able to make the January 10 CTAB meeting, as scheduled, due to a conflict. It will be instead the February CTAB meeting. Sixteen departments of the City of Seattle will be releasing new open data sets in the coming week or so as part of their 2016 commitments under the open data policy. Another reminder that the Let It Snow community workshop will be held on Thursday, December 15, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at 900 E. Pine Street. David is working hard to get a full draft of the 2017 open data plan out by the end of this week, so that’s 12/16 for review. Currently, David is thinking that he will release the draft as an open data set on data.seattle.gov so that he can track comments and download that way, plus drive awareness of the data.seattle.gov site. He will email CTAB once the draft is ready, as well as let the public know via Twitter, Facebook, and perhaps Tech Talk.
Amy Hirotaka: One small piece of business. The February meeting is set for Valentines Day, February 14th, I think Jose and I posted that we were okay with it. I can email everybody to make sure that everyone’s okay with it as well.
Amy Hirotaka: Do we have follow up items that we should announce?
David Keyes: One quick announcement. There’s a swarm organizing around digital inclusion that was originally going to happen in December that we just got wind of. They’ve moved it to February. They’re also looking for input on what the design would be for that. So, if anybody’s interested, they can contact me.
Dan Moulton: There’s a piece of information relevant to today’s meeting. The federal government has an internet backbone for government services, especially in disaster and response. It’s been delayed, that backbone. Today was the app fest, different groups trying to ask about applications to design for government services. There has been a delay on that backbone because of a lawsuit, and AT&T announced that it had asked to be heard during the lawsuit as an interested party. So AT&T is part of the delay. Those public services should be available for public safety. These people had nothing to do with that, so I didn’t bring it up at that time. But I have this update for the E-Gov Committee or anybody to look at. But this is a major backbone of internet and connectivity for government services as well as community agencies and volunteer agencies to help citizens. So it’s been a major blow and delay. It’s a $40 billion contract.
Amy Hirotaka: Thank you.
Jose Vasquez: Continue pursuing the Century Link call back process. That’s ongoing. Email about the elections process for next meeting. Building a database of CTAB guests, potentially to get them to be participating in committees. Look at possible models for doing it. And private partnerships for TMF grantees. Did I miss anything?
Dorene Cornwell: Were you going email out the Century Link PowerPoint?
David Keyes: Yes. I’ll work with Virginia Gleason.
Amy Hirotaka: Thank you, everyone. Meeting is adjourned at 8:03.