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Seattle’s Innovation Advisory Council to focus on earthquakes, homelessness and affordability

The City of Seattle’s Innovation Advisory Council has outlined seven priority projects it will work on and launched a new website where citizens can track progress.

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The Innovation Advisory Council (IAC) was first announced in August but the new website and announcement of projects are the first time Seattle has provided details on the specific outcomes of the IAC’s work.

 

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.

 

Amazon, Artefact Group, Expedia Group, Flying Fish, Microsoft, Tableau, Technology Access Foundation, Washington Technology Industry Association and Zillow Group were founding members, with F5, Facebook, Twitter, Loftium, and the University of Washington joining later.

 

The IAC will act as ’advisors’ on issues and policies affecting the city, where data and technology solutions could be of benefit.

 

The IAC will act as ’advisors’ on issues and policies affecting the city, where data and technology solutions could be of benefit.

 

The IAC has identified seven initial projects that will be the areas of focus for “Phase I”.

  • Earthquake Early Warning System to build a last-mile alert prototype early warning system.
  • Earthquake Damage Assessment Tool to make it easier to assess earthquake damage by pulling in information from multiple sources into a single system.
  • Homelessness Data Modelling to use automation to improve reporting on homeless investments, budgets and outcomes.
  • NavApp 2.0 to help the Navigation Team use data to better connect homeless people with existing services and create faster resolutions to hazardous situations.
  • Affordability Portal to deliver online information and a screening tool to connect individuals and families to City of Seattle benefit programmes and services that can lower their cost of living.
  • Youth Opportunity Portal to enable a centralised application to youth programmes, making it easy for young people to access jobs and training
  • Affordable Housing Search Tool to provide a centralised way to find available affordable housing

The projects were reviewed by an internal review board to ensure they upheld equity, privacy and open data values. Each project had to identify a City of Seattle project manager and submit a timeline to be considered.

 

Head tax reversal

 

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.

Working together

 

Speaking about the announcement of the new portal and projects, Seattle’s Mayor, Jenny Durkan, said: “We are fortunate to have the most innovative and forward-looking companies and workers anywhere in the world right here in our backyard working with us on these projects. Working together, we are making progress.

 

She added: “We must continue to come together towards innovative solutions within our own government to address our region’s biggest challenges, including homelessness and affordability. I am grateful to the Innovation Advisory Council members for their continued partnership and commitment to making Seattle a better, more just place to live and work.”

 

"This partnership is about using creative ways to leverage technology to help tackle the tough issues our region is facing."

 

“The opportunity for the City of Seattle to collaborate with such forward-thinking organisations is both exciting and humbling. This is more than just simply designing or building a piece of technology, but rather this partnership is about using creative ways to leverage technology to help tackle the tough issues our region is facing” said Saad Bashir, Chief Technology Officer for Seattle.

 

“As co-chairs of the Mayor’s Innovation Advisory Council, we are grateful to all of the IAC members as well as City of Seattle experts who have put so much of their time and energy into collaborating on innovative solutions that will help make our City a better place,” said IAC Co-Chairs Aman Bhutani, Expedia; Andrew Beers, Tabeau; Trish Millines-Dziko, Technology Access Foundation; and John Rousseau, Artefact. “We are excited by the opportunity to help shape the purpose and role of the IAC, and look forward to exploring a range of new ways for the IAC and the City of Seattle to deepen its partnership and impact in the long-term.”

 

The full list of Innovation Advisory Council Members is:

  • Co-Chair Aman Bhutani, Expedia
  • Co-Chair Andrew Beers, Tableau
  • Co-Chair Trish Millines Dziko, Technology Access Foundation
  • Co-Chair John Rousseau, Artefact
  • Tim Halladay, Amazon
  • Jared Axelrod, Amazon
  • Jennifer Thibodeau, Amazon
  • Jessie Metcalf, Amazon
  • Clark Menkes, Amazon
  • Amy Wales, Artefact
  • Richard de Sam Lazaro, Expedia
  • Colleen Fukui-Sketchley, F5
  • Nathan Misner, F5
  • Steven Uy, Facebook
  • Heather Redman, Flying Fish
  • Yifan Zhang, Loftium
  • Laura Baga, Microsoft
  • Deanna Sparks, Microsoft
  • Irene Plenefish, Microsoft
  • Tom Rubin, Stanford Law School
  • Steve Schwartz, Tableau
  • Brian Kahrs, Twitter
  • Anind Dey, University of Washington
  • Sally Clary, University of Washington
  • Maggie Foote, University of Washington
  • Michael Schutzler, Washington Technology Industry Association
  • Graham Pruss, WeCount
  • Jonathan Sposato, WeCount
  • Rebekah Bastian, Zillow

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