Is Tech Seattle’s Best Solution to Pressing Issues?
In early August, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the formation of the Innovation Advisory Council (IAC), a collective of representatives from the region’s top technology companies aimed to assist “with the development of data-driven and technological approaches to address our city’s most urgent issues, including homelessness and transportation mobility.” As a statement released by the mayor’s office outlines, there are over 60,000 software developers in the region, representing the largest employment sector in the region.
At the time, Durkan said the council would be “comprised of community members and businesses from across the city with an expertise in technology solutions, transportation and mobility, logistics, project management, engineering, data analytics, and/or software development.”
As the IAC’s first meeting looms, GeekWire asked the question, “can tech fix Seattle?” Their answer is a complicated one that seems to err on the side of caution, particularly given that there is not yet a clear pathway between how recommendations made by the council will be implemented in terms of policy and other necessary action.
There are some definite skeptics out there, as Candace Faber, former leader of civic tech initiatives for the City of Seattle, called the lack of a “clear purpose, goals or metrics for accountability” a real “red flag” in her eyes. Faber also tells GeekWire that “civic tech hackathons have already produced plenty of solutions that haven’t been adequately funded,” which makes her unsure of how IAC outcomes will be any different.
Rebeckah Bastian, who will represent Zillow on the council, has a more optimistic take, as she tells GeekWire that “as a tech community, we have the talent, skills, and resources to create change, and it’s fantastic that we will have the chance to partner with city government in this space.”
Advisory members include representatives from Expedia, Tableau, Amazon, F5, Microsoft, Twitter, University of Washington and Zillow, among others.
Watch Durkan’s early August announcement outlining the goals of the IAC:
“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,” said Durkan. “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 improve our City.”