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Seattle launches first Innovation Council with Amazon, Microsoft and more

Seattle’s first Innovation Advisory Council aims to bring together technology big-hitters to solve the city’s most pressing challenges.

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Seattle’s Mayor, Jenny A. Durkan, is launching the city’s first ever Innovation Advisory Council. The collaboration between the city and Seattle’s technology community aims to promote technology solutions to help with the city’s biggest challenges, such as homelessness and lack of affordable housing.


On board


Amazon, Artefact Group, Expedia Group, Flying Fish, Microsoft, Tableau, Technology Access Foundation, Washington Technology Industry Association and Zillow Group have already committed to the initiative.


The move comes at a time when many cities are facing an affordability crisis, including a number in the US with a thriving tech sector, such as San Francisco and Seattle. Despite the benefits the tech boom brings to cities, companies have also been accused of contributing to affordability issues but failing to help address them.

 

Earlier this year, Seattle City Council voted unanimously to approve imposing a ‘head tax’ on companies that gross over $20 million a year. However, it faced strong opposition from many of the businesses that would have been affected and a few weeks later it was repealed.


The way ahead?


Seattle’s Innovation Advisory Council will act as an advisor on issues and policies affecting the city, where data and technology solutions could be of benefit.


Specifically, the IAC will focus on issue identification, policy recommendations and implementation of technology solutions including new data analytics, dashboards, applications, and software for the city. Members and their businesses will commit to helping deliver these technology solutions.


The IAC is looking for further community members and businesses from across the city with expertise in technology solutions, transportation and mobility, logistics, project management, engineering, data analytics and/or software development.

 

Mayor Durkan has also said the IAC will prioritise participation by under-represented businesses and community members including women, immigrants, refugees, people of colour and the LGBTQ community.


Inventing the future


Mayor Durkan commented: “Seattle is a city that has always invented the future. Working together, we have to seize the opportunity to address our shared challenges in new and innovative ways. Seattle and the surrounding Puget Sound region have the most innovative companies, right here in our own backyard. Bringing them together to address our pressing affordability crises will help us find and implement long-lasting, positive change that will help to improve our city.”

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