Harnessing and Accessing Technology 

Jenny’s Affordable Seattle Agenda

We must become a leader in the “smart cities” movement, while also balancing our personal security and transparency of government.

We have the opportunity to make Seattle the most innovative city on the planet, where technology is harnessed to ensure Seattle is inclusive, transparent and secure, while reducing pollution, congestion and energy consumption and boosting cyber readiness and security.

The City of Seattle should aspire to be:

  • A global city, powered by open data which can unlock improvements in fields ranging from transportation to housing, social services to public health.
  • An inclusive city, which uses the power of technology to address the exclusion and inequality issues that Seattle faces.
  • A talent magnet, with city-supported programs that educate and connect homegrown talent to technology opportunities and also recruits and retains the most dynamic companies to produce their world-transforming innovations here.
  • The city setting the framework for ensuring that innovation includes intentional, honest and transparent decisions regarding the privacy, economic and other social impacts of technology.
  • A world leader in developing and implementing green technology and strategies.

We must pursue these aspirations while also balancing our personal security and transparency of government.

Seattle needs to become a leader in the “smart cities” movement, using technology to make our city more accessible, more efficient, less dependent on cars and the pollution they bring, and provide easier options for travel and freight movement. Technology can help us light and improve our streetscape, save energy, increase safety and maintain our hidden infrastructure like sewer and communications cables. Leveraging new technologies will allow us to manage the city in real time, often in less impactful and costly ways than current methods.

If elected Mayor, Jenny will immediately:

Convene the smartest tech, privacy and social impact thinkers (nationally and from our communities, technology companies, non-profit leaders and academic institutions) to create a “smarter” city strategy to:

  • Find ways to use technology to improve how we manage and navigate our built environment (streets, buildings, utilities, parks, transit, and ecology);
  • Guide the execution of the City’s Digital Equity Action Plan, increase equitable access to technology and digital opportunities for individuals and neighborhoods who have historically been left behind;
  • Protect privacy and make sure that new technologies are deployed in a manner that maintains and increases civil liberties;
  • Identify the most significant economic and social impacts of coming technology, and what actions we may have to take as a result;
  • Better tie our education system to the innovative economy of the future.
  • Draft a framework to guide the use of technology to make decisions, choose partnerships, and make investments for the city and our residents.

Get ready for autonomous vehicles.  The impending shift towards automation will fundamentally change how we approach transportation and will have significant economic and social impacts and could either advance or detract from significant public interests such as privacy, climate solutions, job creation and public safety. We must take steps to prepare a comprehensive strategy on how to approach and shape the City’s policies for autonomous vehicles use of streets, funding, and labor markets with a strong emphasis on equitable, shared, and electric autonomous vehicles.  If elected, Jenny will:

  • Launch a study and work group to inform the City on the potential consequences and benefits of impending shift to  autonomous vehicles.  The study would be viewed through the lens of the race and social justice initiative and also will include items such as infrastructure needs and changes, labor market impacts, personal privacy and impact on low-income individuals and communities. 
  • Draft an implementation strategy that would include equity and workforce development strategy to ensure disadvantaged communities are engaged and afforded viable options to access autonomous vehicles as well as a business, technology and financing strategies to ensure Seattle is prepared for this coming shift.
  • Once ready, establish an automated transportation pilot project. A pilot to test automated vehicles in different parts of the city to learning about how residents experience it as well as how local and state transportation agencies are affected. This will help guide a thoughtful and equitable approach to any policy-making.

Deploy broadband internet access solutions that bring more households online, more quickly. Many advocate for municipal broadband as the solution to increased internet access.  While Jenny supports that goal, with a price tag of more than $600 million (and given our crises in housing and homelessness), Jenny believes we must look for alternate solutions to increase access to broadband internet access throughout the city by:

  • Building out free public Wi-Fi in the priority areas identified by the city’s Public Wi-Fi study, including low-connectivity areas and parks.
  • Explore requiring city wide deployment of broadband access, including free Wi-Fi in key public locations and for all low income housing,  as a public benefit from telecommunications carriers seeking to deploy new 5G and small cell equipment in the city’s rights of way.
  • Purchase additional Wi-Fi hotspots for the Seattle Public Library lending program, giving priority to households who otherwise could not afford access.
  • Explore employment of  public kiosks that provide wayfinding, device charging stations, and free public Wi-Fi in areas with high foot traffic.

 — Jenny Durkan