Drones, sensors and wireless internet — the city is searching for ideas and partnerships as a citywide vision of digital equality comes into focus.
A map from the city document shows which parks and neighborhoods Seattle will focus on as it considers its wireless internet and smart city options. (City of Seattle)
Seattle is looking for smart cities partnerships, the city announced Monday.
In releasing a request for information (RFI), Seattle is gauging interest from the private sector and nonprofit organizations to partner on wireless broadband, drones and other technologies in the "smart cities ecosystem," with particular focus on parks and 12 of the city's low-income districts.
Among the goals listed in the 39-page document is an interest in new wireless services that keep with Mayor Ed Murray's "ongoing commitment to enable private development of broadband facilities" and strategies that make the city "as friendly as possible to private broadband investment."
Seattle also notes a preference in "options that require little to no investment by the City, but the City may be able to provide some capital to support the development of these networks."
Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller told StateScoop that this RFI is to fill the gap left by the city's realization that it was $660 million short of building its own fiber to the home network.
"This all came out of the mayor's broadband policy," Mattmiller said. "When Mayor Murray came into office, he said that we need to make sure everyone in the city has access to equal, affordable and competitive broadband and he outlined three strategies to get there: reducing regulatory barriers, public-private partnerships, exploring the city's ability to provide broadband directly."
The city has been successful in all three of those areas to an extent, Mattmiller said. The city lowered barriers that allowed CenturyLink to expand its fiber offerings, entered new parterships that have brought new ISP options to consumers. And this RFI, he said, is helping the city to be directly involved in offered new services.
The RFI's release coincides with the submission deadline for a similar RFI in released in Boston in December.
Seattle's commitment to technological equality comes as Murray, a Democrat, calls for residents to unify against President Donald Trump's "unconstitutional and un-American" executive orders banning entrance from seven Muslim nations.
The RFI deadline is 2 p.m. on February 28.
Editor's Note: This article was updated with information and quotes from Mattmiller on February 2.