Seattle forum seeks measures of technology-healthy city

Seattle will hold a public forum Feb. 5 to help find ways of measuring its future information technology needs, hoping to close any existing "digital divide" and promote sustainable economic development.

Similar to the way cities often seek signs of their economic or environmental "health," Seattle officials are looking for ways to measure their city's technological health, said David Keyes, Seattle's community technology planner in the city's Department of Information Technology.

Once technology health indicators have been identified, Seattle will collect data to measure its health. In many cases, the necessary data may be available within city departments. For example, the city already includes questions about Internet access as part of an annual residential survey. But the city has set money aside for new surveys.

Seattle will use the information to work with community planners, its economic development agency and other organizations to develop initiatives that boost technology literacy in the city and to provide access to technology where it is lacking.

The forum, being touted as the first of its kind in the nation, will feature short presentations on matters ranging from simple e-mail to a complete vision of a technology-literate city. The presentations will be followed by comments and suggestions from citizens in attendance.

More information on the forum and similar technology literacy and access projects in the city is available online at cityofseattle.net/tech.

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