August 11, 2015 CTAB Meeting Minutes
City of Seattle Citizens Technology Advisory Board (CTAB)
The group heard updates on the Cable and Broadband Committee by Sarah Trowbridge and a discussion of comments to the FCC regarding Lifeline for Broadband; a reminder and request to review the municipal broadband report from Joneil Sampana; a request for help in development of suggestions for the Comprehensive Plan before the September 16 Planning Commission meeting; a report on the Privacy Committee from Beryl Fernandes; and an update from Joneil Sampana on the E-Gov Committee.
This meeting was held: August 11, 2015; 6:00-7:30, 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, Sarah Trowbridge, Amy Hirotaka, Ben Krokower, Carmen Rahm, and Iga Fikayo Keme (new Get Engaged member)
Public: Dorene Cornwell, Henok Kidane (Open Seattle), Kevin O’Boyle, Kevin Volkman (A.R.T.), Dan Moulton, Steve Stiefel, Nancy Sherman, Lloyd Douglas, Heather Lewis (UW-Comotion), Karin Volkman (A.R.T.)
Staff: Kendee Yamaguchi, Derrick Hall, Cass Magnuski
20 In Attendance
Meeting was called to order by Nourisha Wells.
Nourisha Wells: Let’s do a little bit of house cleaning. When you are making an announcement, asking a question, or making a comment, be sure to say your name so it can be included in the minutes. You’ll notice, if you have been checking the minutes online that some things are missing because we don’t hear. So you have to speak up. Also, today, there is this nifty little sign that we will be holding up to remind you to project so you are picked up for the podcast.
First order of business is to approve the agenda. We do have some discussion for that, so I open it up for a motion.
Carmen Rahm: My only motion for the agenda is to remove the break since we’ve got over 30 or 40 minutes of content missing, and because Jose is missing also. We want to bring the meeting down to an hour and 20 or 30 minutes.
Comment: I second that motion.
Nourisha Wells: The agenda has been amended to remove the networking break.
Just to give you an update, Michael Mattmiller will not be here to give his presentation today. He’s in DC, but we do have some things to share. And, as Carmen mentioned, Jose Vasquez is not going to be here, so I don’t think there is a backup for the Digital Inclusion update.
Can we approve the agenda as amended?
Ben Krokower: I move we approve the agenda as amended.
Beryl Fernandes: I second.
Nourisha Wells: The agenda has been approved. Now let’s approve the minutes from last month. From the people who were here last month, do we have a motion to approve?
Beryl Fernandes: There is one fairly minor, but I think, significant correction. There was the low income broadband proposal that was submitted. I was all effusive about Dashiell saying thank you for the work you did. Later on, I realized that Nancy Sherman was really the one behind that initiative. She started it and she just put in a huge amount of work and Dashiell told me that. He said he came in at the end. He was being very gracious about it. In order to be accurate and to recognize this community volunteer who put so much time and energy into it…I don’t know how you handle that. Do you amend it now.
Cass Magnuski: I would think that this comment should go into the next minutes–the minutes from today– since it didn’t really happen last month.
Nourisha Wells: Do we have a motion to approve the minutes from last month?
Beryl Fernandes: I move that we accept the minutes from last month.
Joneil Sampana: I second.
MOTION CARRIES WITH ABSTENTIONS FROM THOSE NOT PRESENT AT JULY MEETING
Nourisha Wells: Michael is not going to be here, but we do have an announcement about digital equity.
Derrick Hall: Phase one is complete. I think many of you know that. And the report will be out next week. It will be online but if you do want a copy, please let Vicky Yuki know. I have her contact information (email@example.com)
Nourisha Wells: And can we send it out via the listserv?
Derrick Hall: Yes. I’m sure you can do that.
Nourisha Wells: We will open it up for announcements from the public or from the board. None? Okay! Well, I’ll announce that there are snacks. Feel free to go over and grab some.
Let’s move to the Cable and Broadband Committee update. We have a discussion and vote on the comments to the FCC for broadband. I’ll turn it over to Sarah Trowbridge.
Cable and Broadband Committee Update
Sarah Trowbridge: I just want to thank Amy Hirotaka, who helped spearhead our efforts to collect comments from the Cable and Broadband Committee about the extension of the Lifeline program the FCC is proposing for broadband services. I believe there are hard copies for anyone who is interested in reading those comments. For CTAB members, it was also in email form. Do you have any further comments about the document?
Amy Hirotaka: A comment on this document is that there have been many hands on it. I went through it again about an hour ago. There is some iffy language that I might to still change and it hasn’t been fully formatted. The other thing to remember is that we started from the assumption that we should be as critical as possible because of what Tony Perez of the Cable Office said. Because we can be more critical than the City itself. The City is submitting comments, as well, and they have to be a little more candid. So that’s how this ended up where it is. Also, big thanks to Lambert Rochfort, formerly from Solid Ground.
Nourisha Wells: How many pages is this document?
Amy Hirotaka: Six.
(Confusion because all pages are not available.)
Beryl Fernandes: I think what I’m going to do is look at it online.
Sarah Trowbridge: I’d also like to add that I like some of the emphasis that you put on the expansion of the eligibility requirements. I think this document serves as some good framework, both for our low income internet position statement that we discussed earlier, and as a framework for thinking about how to expand programs and how to be more inclusive for other technology programs. Really good work on this document.
Amy Hirotaka: Great. Thanks. Thanks mostly goes to other people. But I do think that one thing to consider is the reason I was giving that context is that if you will look at the call for comments, this might seem out of scope, which was my opinion initially. But after talking to other folks, I sort of relented, and thought, sure, why don’t we just talk about everything.
Beryl Fernandes: The version I saw online didn’t have page numbers. That would be helpful to add to this six page document.
Amy Hirotaka: Will do.
Joneil Sampana: What was the form for collecting all of these thoughts? Was it all virtual or did you have to get together in a round room?
Amy Hirotaka: Initially, we at the broadband meeting collected thoughts on it, and then we had a Google doc. We used a separate from this one because there are just a ton of comments on it and changes.
Joneil Sampana: Was that a beneficial way, using Google docs?
Amy Hirotaka: It was and it wasn’t because Dan and Lambert ended up sort of creating their own separate document from it, and then putting everything together was a bit of a hassle. Some folks were more comfortable with tracking changes in Microsoft Word. So I think that next time, we will just figure out whoever is going to be doing the most work will make the call early on. I thought it was going to be me, but then Lambert and Dan ended up having a lot of stuff to add. I prefer Google Docs over anything else.
Sarah Trowbridge: And in terms of timeline, the FCC opened up comments on the day of our meeting, which was July 17. So if we submit this by August 15, and a vote today would be timely if we want to get this on record with the FCC.
Beryl Fernandes: Well, I know you guys put in a tremendous amount of work into it.
Ben Krokower: Besides nitpicking, it’s a fantastic document. So, thank you for putting it together. I feel pretty comfortable voting on it as is.
Nourisha Wells: I think we can approve it without seeing the final.
Amy Hirotaka: Yes. If there is a substantive change, I think that is something we should talk about now. But if there are language edits or typos, which are likely, or formatting or page number stuff, my opinion is that we could vote to submit it and then take care of that later.
The other thing is that we’re submitting this big, long document, but having done FCC comments before, the most important thing in the end is that we’re going on record supporting it. But the document itself is quite important. But what’s going to come out of this is just that we’re on record.
Sarah Trowbridge: Do we have a motion to approve the position statement for the FCC.
Ben Krokower: I move that we approve the draft with minor language and non-substantive changes.
Carmen Rahm: I second.
Nourisha Wells: To approve the public comment to the FCC Lifeline Program?
MOTION CARRIES: PUBLIC COMMENT TO FCC LIFELINE PROGRAM APPROVED
Amy Hirotaka: If you make changes on a hard copy, just give them to me. The reason why I didn’t allow editing on this was that I just didn’t want it to get crazy again. So if you could comment where you see issues and then I can go in and make the changes that would be best at this point.
Sarah Trowbridge: We should probably submit those comments within the next 48 hours. And then you’ll submit to the FCC, Amy?
Amy Hirotaka: Yes, I can do that.
Sarah Trowbridge: Do we want to include our individual names on this document, or just submit it on behalf of our chair, or as a committee?
Beryl Fernandes: I would think as a committee chair.
Sarah Trowbridge: The chair of CTAB?
Beryl Fernandes: The chair of whatever committee is overseeing this.
Amy Hirotaka: No, we’re submitting on behalf of CTAB.
Nourisha Wells: I think in the past we’ve done it as a board, as in the Net Neutrality comments.
Sarah Trowbridge: And then for our most recent position statement, because we couldn’t have a vote before we needed to submit for the cable franchise, we just included individual names of CTAB members and what their role was, but we did submit as a board.
Beryl Fernandes: I think that’s fine, but I really think that, for the record and for later on down the road, if somebody has specific questions–and that does happen on occasion–the chair will not know, but the person who had a hand in writing it would know. So it’s still submitting it with everybody’s name, but also somehow the main contributor. Because if somebody has a question down the road, they want one person they can go to and say, ‘what was the basis for that because we’d really like to incorporate’ or whatever. But if we don’t, they’ll have to go down the list of ten people, trying to figure out who knows the specifics.
Sarah Trowbridge: So we could just add something in the conclusion that says, ‘if you have questions, please contact blank.’
I have a few other updates from the Cable and Broadband Committee. We’re still seeking comments for the Digital Equity Initiative that’s spearheaded by the City of Seattle. We have a draft via Google Docs that you can put suggestions or edits to. And to navigate to that draft you can go to the CTAB blog. You can also just make comments to the blog if you want to speak more generally, too. I’m not sure exactly what the timeline is on finalizing the action strategies, but I think sooner rather than later. Particularly if there are opportunities to talk about accessibility to technologies or internet in Seattle, connectivity, ideas for skills training and resource development. So those are opportunities for us to say, ‘I want to see this in Seattle.’ You could even provide a timeline. We’ll be submitting this to David Keyes for his review.
Beyond that, I have a few notes about our Cable and Broadband Committee meeting in July. The main focus of that was our municipal broadband report. The majority of the conversation was asking specific questions about how some of the conclusions were drawn in the report as regards to operational numbers and such. We determined as a committee that the conclusion that the [consulting] firm reached was good, and there was no point at this time to squabble over how they reached some of their conclusions. We also discussed, moving forward, what it looks like for the City of Seattle to continue pursuing better internet options. Michael Mattmiller asked specifically what our view is on public/private partnerships. As a committee, we determined that more competition is better, but if we have specific ideas about public/private partnerships, we should send those over to Michael Mattmiller, because he really is soliciting what the feel of what a partnership with Comcast might look like, in order to increase internet in Seattle.
Beryl Fernandes: Is that part of what Joneil’s got down here?
Sarah Trowbridge: This was just a reflection of what we discussed as a committee.
And then the third thing we discussed was that Comcast has just recently hired Mayor McGinn’s former communications director Beth Hester. Michael Mattmiller recommended that we reach out as a board and invite her to a meeting. We can discuss specific ways that Comcast is tracking connectivity issues in Seattle, or just to start a dialog as a board with a point of contact with Comcast.
Joneil Sampana: Sarah, is that private/public partnership discussion just for the board?
Sarah Trowbridge: I think probably we collect it and give our overall comments to Michael Mattmiller.
Beryl Fernandes: Regarding the public/private partnerships, I think it depends on how it is shaped. It’s very difficult to say in a vacuum whether one or the other is going to be better. It’s certainly something that should be on the table as far as an option goes.
Sarah Trowbridge: Yes, and I think the next opportunity where Michael Mattmiller is present at a meeting, it would be another opportunity to raise what our concerns are and what our opportunities are. And I specifically, personally, am interested in public/private partnerships that work with some of our local ISPs, such as Cascade Link. I think that would be interesting to help keep our local economy going.
Nourisha Wells: Does anyone have any questions for Sarah or any comments.
Carmen Rahm: One quick question. I’m not sure how this relates, but I know that Vicky Yuki told me earlier this month that Comcast had announced that they were going to be offering their Internet Essentials program to all students in any school that had at least a 50 percent free or reduced lunch. So that was keeping the student from having to go and say, ‘I get free or reduced lunch,’ so that then eliminated concerns about Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) — where you can’t out an individual student, which is great. So this is going to seem like a really weird question, but how can I tie that back to this committee and the City, because my problem is that the school district has a very strict ‘no advertising’ policy. So I can’t go out to all the schools that have 50 percent free or reduced lunch, and say that Comcast offered this. You can get it. Here’s how to sign up. Because then I’m advertising for Comcast. So I’m trying to find creative, and more importantly legal, approved ways to be able to get the word out to these schools. And a lot of schools meet the 50 percent.
Nourisha Wells: How do you do it for other things that would be considered? How about the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA)? Is there some kind of communication as they’re going back to school from the PTSA.
Carmen Rahm: We send information out–school messenger blasts, the internet, Facebook. Everybody gets information at the beginning of the year. But the concern is can we put something in everybody’s school packet that says this is available for these schools. Can we put something on Facebook? The answer is no, because it violates the public/private rule. I went through this at the university that I was at, which was when AT&T came in and said, ‘if you have a .edu email address, AT&T and Verizon said we’ll give you a 15 percent discount off your cell phone bill. So the IT department was going to advertise that, and they went, ‘No. If they want to advertise that, they can put it in the paper, the school newspaper and pay for it, because we don’t promote AT&T and Verizon.’ Now, if they were doing that as part of their contract with the school, then we could advertise it. And I understand the separate there, because next week Costco comes in and says, ‘Guess what? We’ll give you a free hot dog if you’re a school employee’, and then they want that advertised. And Les Schwab comes in with a free oil change. So I’m just trying to find out how to tie that back to this committee, because I’m a member of this committee, then I can tie it back to my job and then be able to get the word out. Any creative ways that somebody can think of for this committee to get the word out to the schools, because I don’t want to miss that opportunity for hundreds or thousands of our students who struggle with being able to afford broadband.
Beryl Fernandes: Did you just say that they could pay to advertise in school papers?
Carmen Rahm: But there are no school papers.
Nourisha Wells: Could it be tied into some of the local organizations that are going to do back to school drives? Because those are the kids that are going to need it. So Comcast needs to be out there in the community.
Carmen Rahm: I don’t want to belabor this and make the meeting last forever, but you mentioned the PTSAs and it might be appropriate–I’m sure that it’s acceptable for me to provide this information to the PTSAs and then they can take the initiative to advertise it in the schools. I think that might be it. Tomorrow, I’m having breakfast with all the PTSAs, so this is very timely. But if you can think of any other ways….
Ben Krokower: I think short-term, you’ve got to partner with the PTSAs or whatever, but I think for the Lifeline, there’s an exception where it should be incumbent on the providers to reach out to the people who qualify for these programs. These are people with deep pockets, deep marketing budgets who typically use these programs for image reasons. There was a great article during the Comcast/NBC Universal merger talks, that the Washington, DC area was blanketed with advertisements for the Internet Essentials program in the DC area. So every single subway had advertisements everywhere. And then as soon as it got passed, all the advertising went away.
Carmen Rahm: I can let Comcast know there are 47 schools that qualify, and then they can take it from there. That’s all we can do. Then they can advertise. I’m looking at this as not that Comcast is going to make ten bucks a month, I’m looking at it as the number one challenge that our students have is and the future is giving them a one to one laptop program, as all schools are doing, but if they take that laptop home and can’t connect to anything, then big deal. So we want to make sure that they have this access, too.
Nourisha Wells: We have a comment in the back. Can you say your name?
Doreen Cornwell: I think it’s timely to be moving on this right at the beginning of the school year. I like the idea of saying that Comcast hears of all 47 schools. But I’m wondering when you’re trying to think about measurable stats, is there something where you can say to Comcast–also whether there are 47 PTSAs–or to have some goals between CTAB and Comcast, we want to cover as many schools, as many students as possible. I don’t know how to do that, given your ‘can’t advertise’ problem. Is that something the school district can do, to say ‘we know these 47 schools that Comcast is going to do this for, in two months do we have a way of knowing how many are being served?
Carmen Rahm: I doubt if we’d have that metric or that data collection. My goal is just to get the word out.
Dan Mouton: DSHS and United Healthcare both send out unsolicited or as soon as you qualify, notices on the low cost opportunities. So, if you have social workers in the school, United Healthcare because they have the Medicaid, there might be dual usage of solutions. So there is proactive resending out of things or programs. Perhaps it is called Lifeline. They called it something else in the mail that DSHS and United Healthcare send. Do you want me to give you an example of that letter? I might be able to thrash around and find it, but we do have other avenues.
Carmen Rahm: That would be great.
Nourisha Wells: Can you provide that directly to me?
Dan Mouton: Yes, I can see if I can find something.
Sarah Trowbridge: This would be another point to bring up if we do invite Beth Hester from Comcast.
Nourisha Wells: We should be able to get her here in September, if she’s available. We’ll have to ask.
Sarah Trowbridge: I can make it may action item.
Beryl Fernandes: I have one more question for Carmen. If the message goes out to the PTSA, and we depend on the PTSA to get the word out to mostly low income students, I don’t know how many of those parents sit on the PTSAs and how much communication there is between the PTSAs and the low income students.
Carmen Rahm: Well, there’s no doubt about it, the schools that have the highest free or reduced lunch programs are the ones that have the least PTSA involvement. I’ve told stories about PTSAs, that the very impoverished schools that raffle Starbucks giftcards and make a few hundred dollars and are very excited. And I was told a story about a school in the northwest that raffled off a Tesla and made $100,000.
Beryl Fernandes: Right. So maybe that strategy needs to be supplemented with something else. Just as long as you keep that in mind.
Nourisha Wells: Okay! Thank you, Sarah. Joneil, you have an announcement?
Joneil Sampana: Just a quick reminder from last meeting. In a similar spirit as the Lifeline program, we saw that this initiative was led by a lot of citizen interest. If you’re interested in commenting or providing guidance for CTAB to move forward with the Citizen Broadband Report, please let us know on the signup sheet, perhaps let us know your interest in that topic. Show of hands: Is anyone here interested in making comment or suggestions on municipal broadband?
Beryl Fernandes: I’m not sure about the request that’s being made here. Who is asking for our comment on the report?
Joneil Sampana: No one is asking for our comment. There is interest from citizens. We want to create a space for you to share your beliefs. We want that to be a part of the Broadband Committee, and we want to give it a formal structure and create some kind of platform where we could talk about the broadband report and to suggest to CTAB what we should do moving forward. Because the last time it was shared with us, there wasn’t much talk or conversation.
Beryl Fernandes: Here’s why I’m asking that question. The Upgrade Seattle people had Chris Mitchell. He came in first and he talked about all the great things about broadband. The very next day, the City’s report came out and it basically crushed that idea. So, it seems to me that the next step is for the City itself to now say, ‘We’ve heard from Upgrade Seattle, the citizens, we’ve heard from the consultant.’ And my request last time was to say, ‘Okay, Mr. Mattmiller, where are you going to take us now? Where are you going to take the City, now that you’ve got two very different approaches? Is it a done deal? Is municipal broadband dead?’
Nourisha Wells: Sounds like it’s a partnership thing. A private/public partnership, right? I think that’s what he’s asking for.
Ben Krokower: I’m sorry to interrupt, but I would dispute the idea that the report itself seemed quashing. The report had a pretty clear way forward when it comes to municipal broadband. It just was that the preferred manner of funding that was not feasible. But there are other options, either having been studied or were not exercised by the City.
Beryl Fernandes: Okay, so there are options and that’s what we need to hear about from the City itself. And if there is a preferred option, that the CTO has decided on and wants to take, we need to hear that. And then I think it’s appropriate for us to comment. But at this point, I think there’s so much up in the air. Maybe you know something, Ben, that I don’t.
Ben Krokower: Speaking as someone who was one of the founding members of Upgrade Seattle, and wholeheartedly support municipal broadband, the report–and also for those reasons, I’ve been disengaged with the board’s activities on this–I had some fairly concrete steps that the City should be taking on this. Number one, introducing a pilot program, putting some real money toward that. I think the price tag was $5 million. Choosing a couple of neighborhoods around the City doing a proof of concept for making it profitable. Getting some actual numbers on the take rate for the municipal option for the different price points. In addition, also an additional educational campaign for what gigabit can do, why it’s important, all that stuff. And also some other funding on this. Primarily property tax. Most of the focus was on issuing municipal bonds, which wasn’t feasible for a number of reasons. But it’s definitely feasible if we turn to property taxes. If we choose to tax ourselves, we can have — and it says in the report, $45 a month gigabit internet–so I’m in a situation where I feel we are stuck where we were in 2009 when the last feasibility report came out that there was just not the political will for it. Not that it’s not possible or feasible. It’s just that it’s not a priority for our elected officials. So I think that Upgrade Seattle’s goal is to create the political will for it.
Beryl Fernandes: I think getting property taxes for anything is very difficult for us to do. Not that it’s impossible. It’s only that it’s difficult. I guess doing the pilot projects in different neighborhoods is a different beast from having a municipal broadband utility that serves the entire City. Because they are talking about a management system for a utility that’s City-wide, which is very different from the pilot. The pilot would give you an idea of how a City-wide utility would work out.
Ben Krokower: Right. But a lot of the assumptions that are in the report have to do with take rates, what the rate would actually purchase. And these are assumptions, and they’re based on lots of market data, but they’re still assumptions. The pilot program would, number one, have more concrete examples of that take rate assumption. Number two, it serves as an educational project. Can the City deliver gigabit internet to a neighborhood? Yes or no? Can they operate it successfully? It can answer some of those questions. It’s not what is really needed, but a step in that direction.
Beryl Fernandes: So has Upgrade Seattle heard from the City on which ones of those options they’d like to proceed with?
Ben Krokower: No.
Beryl Fernandes: Are you waiting for that?
Ben Krokower: Personally, I don’t want to speak for Upgrade Seattle. I’ll speak for myself. I have opinions about it. I think that since the report came out, it was treated as a dead end. There’s been some light work towards it, but not much action. That’s my take.
Beryl Fernandes: May I offer one suggestion? I think that my hesitation about it, with City Light utility with the experience that they currently have –not with City Light, but with Seattle Public Utilities–has not been great. In fact, I’d use other adjectives if I wasn’t on the record. This is something you can do at the front end if you want to push for municipal broadband, is to design into the front end of it internal controls, so that expenditures don’t skyrocket, as they did with the utilities, so that now we have the highest water rates in the country, which is not what we bargained for when we asked to form the utility. I was on the advisory committee that recommended the formation of Seattle Public Utilities. I think the main problem is with oversight. We, citizens, or City Council, whoever it is–did not provide adequate oversight to make sure that those expenditures did not go out of control and that management was much tighter. So this is something that you can do at the front end by learning from that experience. And I think it would make a proposal way stronger.
Ben Krokower: I think I’d prefer to focus on the front end, and I like City Light. It’s a huge positive. There are pro and con examples across the nation of publicly owned whatevers. And I think the idea is that whatever gets built obviously should stick to best practices.
Nourisha Wells: I have an announcement about the Comprehensive Plan. The City is having a planning commission meeting on September 16, and if anyone is interested in helping to develop suggestions for the Comp Plan, which can be found on the Seattle government web site, you can either sign up on the sign in sheet or come and talk to me after the meeting is over and I can facilitate that connection. I don’t know the actual time for the planning meeting, but we can definitely send that out through our listserv. But if anyone is interested, if you haven’t read the Comprehensive Plan, I definitely recommend checking it out. CTAB will be discussing it at the September meeting. If you haveany itnerest in that, please see me after the meeting.
Beryl Fernandes: Is there anyone on the CTAB board who is planning to help on it? It’s a huge document and a huge undertaking.
Nourisha Wells: Yes. And we definitely don’t have the focus on all of it. There are key points that make sense for CTAB.
Sarah Trowbridge: Specifically, economic development and public utilities are areas we can focus on.
Nourisha Wells: Next up, we have Beryl Fernandes with the Privacy Committee Update.
PRIVACY COMMITTEE UPDATE
Beryl Fernandes: The workshops we’ve been having in the City–and we’ve completed three so far–is called Protecting Privacy and Yourself in the Digital Age. The charge that our committee had back in January 2014 was when Councilmember Harrell listed privacy as a priority for CTAB. We grabbed it and began a grassroots inclusive approach to addressing privacy in the City. What we mean by inclusive is as broad a cross section of the population as possible, but particularly those that have been left out of privacy discussions in the past. And generally, privacy discussions have been led by technologists. There is something called the theory of privacy and harm and they talk about subjective harm and objective harm, which I won’t get into. But subjective harm is anxiety about what might happen when new technologies come online, or existing technologies or technology harm in the future, that hasn’t actually happened yet. And objective harm is where people are actually harmed by whatever is being done. We consulted with people and providers, from marginalized and vulnerable populations, and focused on existing technologies as well.
We did a whole bunch of background research, interviews, meetings, focus groups, with youth, seniors, people with disabilities, LGBTQ, low income, whistle blowers, immigrants and refugees, and a whole bunch. We just wanted to make sure we got as many people as possible for their perspectives. Perspectives, rather than people, because you can have a low income person who might not bring a different perspective, to the table. So it’s the different perspectives that we were interested in. So we involved people from these communities at the grassroots level to identify what the problems, the needs, and most importantly, the strategies. We’re less interested in a whole litany of problems, and more interested in the strategies for addressing each problem. I was less interested in having a zillion people show up, or a zillion people contacted, and more interested in having one example from each of these groups. A perspective and a compelling story that said here is what happened in the past, and we don’t want to see that happen to any of our people again. So the questions is, ‘What ideas do you have for addressing that issue?’ And the premise behind that is to say if you’ve been affected by privacy harm, generally people have thought about what could be done to mitigate or to avert it.
The methodology, then, is what can we do at the local level? We’re not looking for what can be done at the federal level, or globally. We’re looking at community generated ideas, localized strategies. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be scaled up.
The sectors were broken up into three broad categories: residence, small businesses, and workers. We used the term, ‘collaborathon’ to signify a collaboration among people. It would be tech, non-tech, north Seattle, south Seattle, all sizes, all shapes. It was a collaborathon where we have the needs identified, we have people with a set of needs, and we’ve got people with resources to help address those needs. And it’s a bringing together of all these people, and that’s how we came up with the word.
The objectives were to develop and present strategies for addressing privacy harm to the community as well as at the privacy symposium, a resource fair.
One of the things we realized is that the insidious nature of objective privacy harm in marginalized communities. It’s not possible to just go there and ask, ‘how have you been affected by privacy.’ Often the issue of privacy is much more insidious, and you get at it by understanding, really getting into the community itself. As an example, is a school lunch program. One of the students that I mentor was flunking five out of six classes and I decided to go spend the day with her at school and figure out what was going on. She was really lethargic, and I asked her what she had for breakfast. And she said, ‘nothing.’ I asked why, and she said they didn’t have anything. I asked what she brought for lunch, and she said ‘nothing.’ Same thing. Didn’t have anything at home. And I said, you know they have free lunches at school. She just mumbled something. She was very embarrassed and put her head down. So I didn’t push it, but I went to the administrators later and they said her family didn’t apply and if you don’t apply, you don’t get it. And I said, I don’t care what you have to do but that girl’s got to eat, not tomorrow, today. Anyway, we did what was necessary to get her on the program, but it points to a much wider issue in privacy with low income people in marginalized communities. Some of them do not want to apply for subsidy programs because of the intrusive nature of those applications. The Brookings Institution did a big study on this, nationwide, and talked about subsidies were just not being used. And you know what that next step is going to be. It’s to grab that money. But what we need to do is to look underneath that and find out why is it that they’re not being used. One reason is the trust is government with providing all your financial information to them, with immigrants, any low income, the African American community–major issues of trust.
Carmen Rahm: Well, let’s go back to what I said earlier where when Comcast came out and said you don’t have to be signed up for free or reduced lunch, you just have to go to a school where it’s got over 50 percent. And that took out all of the stigma, and it took out all of the FERPA. Because now you say, ‘I go to whatever school,’ rather than say, ‘Here’s my proof that I qualify for FERPA, which takes it to a whole other level.
Beryl Fernandes: So, that’s just an illustration of how insidious it is and why it is necessary to focus on a different approach for looking at privacy in these communities.
Community based versus policy. So-called experts tell us that we can’t rely on government, and policies and principles to protect us. Legal and legislative changes lag well behind the pace of technology. A lot of people say education and awareness is the key. This came from both the experts, as well as our own Seattle youth in the number of focus groups and interviews and meetings we had with them. Which says a lot about our youth. They know. And that was the whole purpose of asking those people who are in vulnerable situations. They know more than we give them credit for. So let’s ask them directly.
We can expect in this day and age that we will be tracked on the internet and everywhere, but we don’t necessarily have to expect that that information will be used against us. That’s the problem that most of us have. Data collection has disparate impacts, and it’s intolerable in a just society. We need and want to control our own information, like the EU’s Right to be Forgotten. That’s the European Union.
We’ve had these three workshops. We will be continuing on the first Tuesday of each month. They are held in the Center City, 23rd and Yesler. It’s the heart of the Central District. What is really heartening is to see the people who are coming. I think we had about 60 percent of people of color there. We had African Americans. We had immigrant and refugee. You name it. When I first put this out, I sort of jokingly said, from birth to 99. We literally had people with their parents who were three months old. And this family has been coming every single month. We’ve adopted them and they’ve adopted us. And it is beautiful because this is a refugee family. The father was a human rights activist where he came from. This is a live example of the extreme that we hope we’re going to get into. So, it has just been a beautiful experience. I had one parent who said to me that her friend’s daughter committed suicide after she was cyber-bullied, and another whose son is on the internet all the time and getting more and more violent. The reasons are very personal.
Coming to the symposium, which we’re going to have this fall: Councilmember Bruce Harrell will be the sponsor. The theme is resources for peoples’ health and such. It’s a self-empowering process and objective. Bruce Harrell has asked me to convey that he is very appreciative of all the work that has been done to date, and we’ve done all of this without budget or staff support. It’s taken a lot of investment. Mostly likely, it will be in Bertha Landes Hall in City Hall. We’re looking at something between early November and before Christmas. That’s very broad, but there are many moving parts as to when.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson has indicated an interest, and I’m working with his staff at this point on actually pinning down his schedule and meshing it with other things. His office has, as we all know, a huge Consumer Protection Division, with a huge privacy resource base, so it fits very nicely. We’ll have resource booths outside, where they will be able to display their wares, as will other people as well.
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene has also indicated an interest. She also gave me her staff person, who I also met. And we’re working with them, as well. There are some great academic researchers who have specialized in privacy in marginalized neighborhoods. There aren’t a lot. It’s really an emerging field, but we don’t have money to bring them out here. If we can, it would be dynamite. And then, of course, we’ll have local community members. So, we hope to have a resource booth outside, where people who have worked on developing strategies can display. We hope to choose one or two to help kick off the symposium itself.
Joneil Sampana: Through the course of planning and discussions, what was the range of people attending at the library? Was it low numbers or high numbers. I’m just curious.
Beryl Fernandes: Last time we had 16 to 18 people. And we’re not looking for numbers. Because they’re very focused, very intensive discussions. So, we’re not advertising it, necessarily in a big way on the internet. If we did, we’d get lots of people coming in that are totally unfocused. We’ve done this through Open Seattle, and we’ve got a pretty extensive mailing list, as well. It’s mostly those three sectors I talked about. So when it’s workers, that’s where we’re focusing. A lot of the work is happening outside of the workshops, and then they come to the workshop to present. The ones that are happening outside are very small. They could be three or four people, but very intense. It’s labor intensive.
Henok Kidane: When you said, ‘localized,’ was it by neighborhood? By category? By area?
Beryl Fernandes: We haven’t really defined it. We leave it up to the people who are making those recommendations and developing the strategies. For example, there is one immigrant community where they’re going to have privacy training on the internet as a regular part of the computer training that they do.So that would be localized just to that one center probably. It’s conceivable that they would develop a template that could be used elsewhere, but at this point, that’s not our goal. That’s too much to ask of people. We want them to do this, and then we’re going to send them all over the City. But it could happen. And then, with a lot of the youth, they’re at community centers.
Carmen, following up on our discussion on the schools, we’re not even going to touch your bureaucracy. We’ll leave that up to you. We’re getting your kids by other means. They’re in the community centers, they’re in summer programs, and we’re reaching them that way. And our goal is not to reach every student. We are all volunteers. We do not have budget. We do not have staff. The whole purpose of this is to provide one or two illustrations. That’s really it. To illustrate the insidious nature of privacy issues, and how we approach it.
Henok Kidane: I’m just wondering if there’s some overlap that increases inefficiency.
Beryl Fernandes: Very good point. If and when we see that, we definitely would like to have a way to talk to them about collaborating and sharing information. Is that what you mean?
Henok Kidane: Yes.
Nourisha Wells: Any other questions? No? Thank you, Beryl. Next up is Joneil with E-Gov.
E-GOV COMMITTEE UPDATE
Joneil Sampana: This past month, we had a joint meeting with Jose’s group, the Digital Inclusion Committee. Essentially, we talked about the Digital Equity Initiative principles and goals. We talked about how we map our work to this document, some of the action plans. We would bring a lot of meaning and emphasis on different goals to light with this as our strategic plan. We moved forward and decided that all of our efforts would be aligned to this document. I encourage you, if you’re interested, to learn more about the digital equity principles. This is what helps shape your vision of what these two committees are going to be executing.
More about E-Gov: We’re shooting specifically around outreach and accessibility, and skills training, as well as, building community capacity. In that light, a quick update on the data visualization internship that we launched with the government of Washington State. We put a report out yesterday with Results Washington, which is Governor Inslee’s new performance management task team, that is trying to showcase how Washington State is performing on a lot of different measures towards citizenship. How they’re doing it is using students. In this case, we have four universities where we have internships with those students with industry partners, Socrata, Tableau, Microsoft, and Life Stories. We’re in our seventh week, and we showed them our initial data visualization maps. We had five different agencies, and they loved seeing what they saw about how easy citizens can actually dive into specific data sets that aren’t Excel based, or number based. They’re practical and inclusive. So what they want to do is showcase more of these best practices with the students with the governor in mid-October. Again, it’s part of a larger scale that Governor Inslee wants, combining his development with students, private/public partnerships with universities and partners, as well as interest in the new technology tools through government agencies. So this will be a platform. We don’t know where it’s going to end, but hopefully we’ll receive budget in October for more skilled roll out, with other universities, other skills, other agencies. So be on the look out for that.
The second project we talked about was the Citizen Engagement Series around an idea called Tech Etc. What we’re trying to do in the same spirit as Beryl’s group is to identify four topics that involve technology and will bring together a cross section of Seattle citizens through an event that will help cross sector collaboration, very similar to data visualization internship. The ideas that came out last week were kind of geared around these principles. So if one topic was about innovation, who can we attract in the area of education? STEM or STEAM was an idea that was brought up. Who would we want to hear from? And what type of collaboration would they bring to the table around STEAM? STEAM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. Another idea was 21st Century skills training for students as well as everyday citizens. What skill do we need to know for the 21st century? Coding, digital visualization, machine learning. Would that be something that City of Seattle citizens would be interested in learning more about?
And, lastly, community capacity. How can we align all of our private/public resources to build more capacity within our communities? Whether it’s funds, technology resources, volunteers–how can we actually come up with a holistic model towards any specific issue? Whether it’s homelessness, training, or what have you. So, right now what we’re doing is trying to identify what those four topics would be. And that’s why I asked the question, ‘how big is what we’re looking for?’ If we had an event like this in September, October, November, December, what would that look like?
So that’s where we’re at. We’re still trying to determine if these are the right topics, and what would be the ask? We don’t want to just do this as a blip. We want to build momentum. Any questions?
Nourisha Wells: I have a question. Because that’s such a large group, what is the plan for a structure for doing those needs?
Joneil Sampana: Similar to what we did for the indigent project. Although we have a report out in October, in September we partnered with Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA), and they’re hosting a big Full Con Tech convention which is 200 folks that are going to come to this event, we’re going to showcase our students and talk about digital visualization. So it’s kind of in the same manner. If you have the right private partners, if you have the right non-profit partners…and one thing I forgot to mention is, along each one of these topics, we have actually showcased one of our TMF grantees. It showcased them, what they are doing in the community, and made sure that one of the lessons learned or messages that all of the citizens get is there are actually organizations that are being funded right now with our tax dollars that are doing great work in the communities and we want to extend that. Right now, we’ve given 26 TMF grants, and how many of us know what that work looks like this year. So we want to make sure that’s top line, event after event. So that’s kind of what we’re thinking about. Get the right partners in place–companies, non-profits, volunteers and citizens–and let’s generate something new.
Beryl Fernandes: The topics that you mention, if we were talking to people who were preparing themselves for the tech world, I could see that. If we’re talking about marginalized communities, a lot of them are saying that the first step they can see in employment is child care, or home health care, or gardening. Not that data visualization and some of those skills are not important. They could be, and I think some people would jump at it, and others would just shy away from it. I wonder if you narrowed your focus and said this is for preparing people for the tech world. For kids, I think, great. But for some of the adults that we are dealing with, it may not be.
Joneil Sampana: Well, let me correct that. We’re not trying to create people for the tech industry. What we’re trying to do is use technology to try to engage citizens to ask different questions about their community. So if it’s visual, they see a map versus a spreadsheet, and they click on their zip code area, hopefully that will engage people to say, ‘I understand what this is about. This is where I live, and I see that the average income is blank.’ That’s what we’re trying to do.
Dan Moulton: There are state and federal funds for innovation, literally, in technology for exactly what you just said, specifically going after low income, home healthcare, etc. In Washington State, it’s called Healthy Homes Washington or something like that. I think what Joneil is saying is it’s not just about kids going into the tech industry. In the tech industry, people get shifted out and lose their jobs. They need to find a way back in. Besides that, just for the tech industry, how do you access your community, your government, what things are available to you through Comcast. etc. from open data, where would you find it, how would you find it, etc. So in the innovation team for FEMA, we took the government to the survivors, as opposed to asking the survivors to come to government. So that’s an innovation.
Doreen Cornwell: I’m sitting here thinking about the laptops in the households and Beryl’s comment about getting on board for the workforce for parents, and particularly child care. There are quite a lot of different things that are requirements for training, and so if I’m in my neighborhood and need a job, I’d try to do some kind of certification so that I could get something I use. I’ve had this vision about kids doing open data projects and seeing that they can do something that will make a difference in their neighborhood and that’s tied to PC or personal curriculum. But that means looking for some funds, doing some curriculum with the teachers, all these ideas need resources.
Dan Moulton: An example would be [unintelligible]. In the digital comments on this equity, two people started to say, this is too broad. We need to separate them out. And I’m thinking this is the path to separate but equal. What we need to do is flip our thinking to realize that the people that we’re dealing with are actually innovators. And in order to get them energized about the technologies for the 21st century, etc., they are most energized when doing something for their community. Also, instead of looking at it as something we’re doing for them, what can they do for us? I have an example from the toolkit from Microsoft’s Emerging Markets and Unlimited Potential, but the one for Hurricane Sandy was prior to the storm. Redhook Initiative was trying to do this for home healthcare, trying to give people access to try to apply online. Trying to get childcare, etc. by using the Mesh network. Sandy knocked out electricity, Verizon’s lines were flooded. No cell phone, no landline. no whatever. The innovation team found this group and got the rest of the routers, and FEMA got a line to them. So now all the rich people that are surrounding them were not able to communicate out. That’s something in that small community that was underprivileged and poor, essentially helped all their neighbors.
Beryl Fernandes: Absolutely. That’s the premise behind what we’re doing in terms of self-empowerment. They’re empowering themselves, and through that they are also making whatever it is available to others.
Dan Moulton: We need to flip our thoughts that we’re not doing it for them, that they are very powerful people with great minds.
Beryl Fernandes: Absolutely. That they are entirely capable and brilliant and know their own situation better than any of us.
Joneil Sampana: So in addition to relevant initiatives, if there is any other idea that you might have or interest in some of the topics, make sure to come to our meeting. We meet the fourth Tuesday of each month.
Dan Moulton: There was a citizen innovation summit last November, and the innovation team worked with other countries, Canada, and the United Nations. We need to look and see where this problem has already been solved, instead of just trying to reinvent the wheel. But that’s my soapbox.
Nourisha Wells: Thank you. Any additional comments?
Nancy Sherman: You said the fourth Tuesday was which group?
Joneil Sampana: Actually both of ours. We’re trying to align.
Doreen Cornwell: So in terms of planning, it’s helpful either to know in advance–well, it’s helpful also to have a stable place–but it’s also helpful to know at least a week in advance.
Joneil Sampana: I totally understand. I’ll get together with Jose and we’ll decide where it will be. I’ll get you the location soon.
Nourisha Wells: And that information is available on the CTAB web site. For everyone that’s interested in any of the committees, the meeting times are posted on the web site.
Beryl Fernandes: Now that Nancy Sherman is here, we mentioned your name. Were your ears burning? What I said was, last meeting you weren’t here, but Sarah brought up the question of the low income internet position statement. Because Dashiell was sitting right where are right now, and I remembered that he had worked on it towards the end, I was really effusive with my comments about his contributions. Later on, after the meeting, I thought about it and realized that Nancy is the one who initiated it, and put all this work into it. We should give her credit. My goodness, we ought to give her a big plaque or something. So I emailed Dashiell and he agreed totally. He said, ‘I came in at the end. I had nothing to do with it.’ But Nancy in particular I wanted to give credit to, because she was persistent. It took such a long time. And Sarah was so patient, just wording and rewording, and pulling that whole thing together. So thanks to all of you who contributed, but I just wanted to make sure that Nancy did get recognized.
Nancy Sherman: I appreciate that.
Beryl Fernandes: The plaque is on it’s way. (laughs)
Nourisha Wells: Okay, we are open to additional comments from the public, if there are any. Be sure to say your name before you give your announcement, so we can hear it on the podcast. And it will be recorded for the minutes.
Doreen Cornwell: One of the things I guess I want to note from the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrations. There was a strong statement that the internet still needs to be accessible. That kept coming through from several different events. It was kind of cool for us to go because there are legal and technical issues all the time. The other thing that I’m kind of just noting as interesting public policy and privacy thing, was the thing with the bus driver wearing a body cam. And the sheriff’s deputy got fired but the bus driver got reprimanded for wearing a body cam. Honestly, if I were in the bus driver’s union, I might be all over letting bus drivers wear body cams. Bus drivers are out there, and they put up with a lot from the public. I don’t know if they would feel safer with body cams. It’s a whole interesting thing: privacy/management issue, but I’m just kind of throwing it out there. Because it’s kind of different from police officers having them.
Beryl Fernandes: We can talk offline about that.
Nourisha Wells: Are there any other comments? Okay, if there are no more comments from the public, then we will move onto the September meeting agenda items. For sure, we’ll put out the request for Beth to come to talk to us. We’ll have time for the Comp Plan discussion before the City Planning meeting. And then, also, we have on the agenda for next month to talk about the TMF criteria. And I know that that’s something that’s going to be discussed in the committee meeting this month, but we’ll have further discussion at next month’s meeting.
Joneil Sampana: We might have someone from Finance and Administration Services (FAS) coming along with Michael to talk about open data.
Ben Krokower: Our next meeting is September 8, correct?
Nourisha Wells: It’s the second Tuesday. So, yes that is the date.
Carmen Rahm: I’ll do my best, but classes start the next day. So it might be a little hectic around the office that day.
Beryl Fernandes: You don’t get the summers off?
Carmen Rahm: Are you kidding me? That’s when we get all of our work done.
Ben Krokower: Could you spend a few seconds talking about what the TMF item is about?
Nourisha Wells: It’s looking at the criteria and refreshing it. The judging of the submissions and also the whole execution process. There will be a guest that’s going to talk about his role and the organization that he works with that received a grant.
Ben Krokower: Was it in response to criticism?
Beryl Fernandes: No. It’s capacity building from inside. I made a recommendation, which was made many times before, that the TMF criteria should include one criterion that gives a certain number of points to a proposal that have management from the community itself. Because too often in matching grants situations–and I’ve managed an environmental matching grant. You can have people from the outside with management skills and experience writing great proposals and getting the contracts and using the kids from the neighborhoods to get the grant. Those kids don’t ever have a chance to get training and get into leadership positions. They have no hope of ever making it into the management realm. One of the things we’re seeing on a much bigger societal level right now is the tremendous anger from people not being able to cut through and make it into management range. The point is to give everybody a chance from the inside. To be able at least to aspire towards one day getting some training, some leadership roles. And this is one program that has done that. They’ve taken kids from the programs, given them leadership roles. They’ve now become assistant trainers in the robotics program. And there are others like that. There is David Harris in the African American community, who has done a fabulous job. There are several like that, and all I’m saying is in the TMF you have a chance to insert a criterion like that. If we as a society say yes, we want to give opportunities to our low income kids of color to be able not only to participate but also have leadership roles at some point. Does that make sense to you?
Ben Krokower: Sure. I guess I would ask if there is an exact spot for that currently in the TMF criteria–for community participation in the grant. We can critique either the language or the scoring, but I guess I maybe am a little bit defensive because I know how diligently the City focuses on that particular issue So I want to make sure that if we’re having an agenda item about it, that we’re doing it talking with…. If there are specific suggestions for fixing either the language or scoring, rather than a general critique. Because they work very hard at exactly that issue.
Beryl Fernandes: This is why Joneil and Jose, the two committee…
Nourisha Wells: It’s come up.
Sarah Trowbridge: I’ll just add as a member of the Digital Equity Committee, one of the things we wanted to do to enhance the TMF process is to have collaboration with people who are going to potentially apply for a TMF grant early on. So if there are places where those grants might overlap, they’ll have the opportunity before they even apply. So I think that might even be part of the discussion on how to enhance the TMF process.
Nancy Sherman: I’d just like to make a correction to what Beryl said. Beryl spoke of making sure that kids of color are included in the leadership opportunities. I would suggest or correct the idea that this is all about kids. It’s not just about kids. People in marginalized communities of every age get marginalized once again when their community gets a Technology Matching Grant. And those people who may be in their 30s, their 40s, their 50s, their 60s–I can tell you people who have worked for Boeing, who have worked for Microsoft, who have worked for other big names around, who have a technology background who are not included in the paid positions that the TMF grant offers, who are marginalized by fiscal agents, who are discouraged by the community builders or in some other ways cut out of the process in the various organizations. And are basically told, ‘Well I’m the expert. I have experience.’ And in many cases, the people of that community have way more training and experience than the person who is coming in to administer the grant.
Beryl Fernandes: Point well taken, Nancy, and absolutely you stated it so well.
Nourisha Wells: Any other comments about that?
Dan Moulton: Just again, you can do research. There are a number of groups that are devoted to passing on those skills. There are foundations, etc. to pass on and to teach those leadership skills and to just have the other person there as the coach or mentor, but are actually run. There are international foundations for this. I just wanted you to know that you can go out and look and find a model or actually existing funds to augment your own foundation, grants, etc. It’s just that people don’t know that they exist, so I want to make them aware.
Nourisha Wells: Thank you. Joneil, do you want to give the action items?
Joneil Sampana: Two action items for the board:
Provide digital equity edits to Google Docs, as well as provide private/public partnership definitions to Michael Mattmiller
Amy Hirotaka: And then to provide comments on the FCC document within the next 48 hours in order to get them into the document that I submit. And that’s just for the board.
Nourisha Wells: Anything else that I forgot?
Sarah Trowbridge: Part of the discussion for next month is also discussing the Comp Plan?
Nourisha Wells: Yes. So everyone on the board should definitely make sure you take a look at it. And if you just read the headings for inspection, that gives you a lot of information about what’s in it. But definitely, take a look at it because we are going to be discussing it next month. That’s in preparation for the public meeting to come.
MEETING ADJOURNED AT 7:30 PM