- Seattle’s Innovation Advisory Council (IAC) announced it has identified seven priority projects it will work on to help the city address affordability, homelessness, youth opportunity, the delivery of basic services and emergency preparedness.
- The IAC’s seven projects will be an earthquake early warning system; an earthquake damage assessment tool; homelessness data modeling; NavApp 2.0 to connect the homeless with services; a housing affordability portal; a youth opportunity portal; and an affordable housing search tool.
- “Working together, we are making progress,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement. “We must continue to come together towards innovative solutions within our own government to address our region’s biggest challenges, including homelessness and affordability.”
Durkan established the IAC last August, and the announcement of the seven projects in five focus areas represents a major step forward as the city looks to wrestle with some major issues by using data and technology. The use of technology to give early warnings about earthquakes and to assess damage after they hit has echoes with Los Angeles, which launched ShakeAlertLA, built on the ShakeAlert system developed by the U.S. Geological Survey. Such partnerships that build a city’s resilience could be a good model for Seattle, especially if ShakeAlertLA proves to be an effective tool.
Perhaps the most troubling issues facing Seattle are around homelessness and housing affordability; using data and technology to get those under control could be an effective next step. Like many other cities, Seattle is struggling to maintain an affordable housing stock, and its city council tried to take steps last year by approving a head tax on companies that gross at least $20 million a year. But after sustained opposition from companies including Amazon, elected leaders backed off in the space of a week and repealed the head tax altogether.
The IAC has members representing various city departments as well as local businesses and technology companies, and it bodes well that the public and private sector are partnering to face down some of the city’s biggest issues. Similar partnerships are springing up nationwide, including between universities and cities, so if Seattle is able to leverage all the knowledge at the table, it could make a real impact for its residents.