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Seattle Wins Two Digital Inclusion Awards

August 18, 2017

As readers of this blog know, several times the city of Seattle, Wash. has studied and cast aside the idea of building a taxpayer-financed broadband system. Seattle officials instead have sought to reduce regulatory and other barriers to private investment. 

The city is now being recognized for its efforts. Last month, Government Technology reported that the city’s Information Technology Department “has won two awards from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) for its efforts to foster digital inclusion within the city.” The city won NATOA’s “Community Broadband Strategic Plan of the Year” and “Community Broadband Digital Equity Project of the Year.”

The Strategic Plan Award went to Seattle’s plan to provide “equitable access to wireless broadband” throughout the city. Part of that plan was to reduce regulatory barriers and to explore public private partnerships. (Another part of the plan was to “explore” a municipal broadband system, but, again, city officials have so far rejected that idea.)

The city won the Broadband Digital Equity Project award for its Technology Matching Fund, which provides financial support for digital equity projects that cost up to $50,000. NATOA gives this award to cities that are trying to increase access to free or low-cost broadband, improve digital literacy skills, or provide residents with affordable access to devices and accompanying technical support.

Seattle Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller, who in the past has articulated the pitfalls of government-owned broadband, said, “The recognition by NATOA shows we are making progress on that commitment and is a testament to the great work of our staff and community partners.”

Congratulations, Seattle!