Seattle innovation council tackles homelessness, social services in first projects

The group comprised of local technology companies, university deans and city leaders has named seven new technology projects designed to improve life for the city's residents.
Seattle cityscape
(oakie / Unsplash)

Seattle’s Innovation Advisory Council, created by Mayor Jenny Durkan last August as a way to leverage the region’s technical talent against local issues, has announced seven technology projects it plans to implement.

The projects, announced last week, include:

  • An earthquake early warning system
  • An earthquake damage assessment tool
  • A homelessness data modeling tool
  • An application used by outreach workers and police to pair homeless people with services
  • An online tool to help low-income people find assistance programs they qualify for
  • An online portal to help young people find jobs and skill-building opportunities
  • An affordable housing search tool

Members of the council, which come from Washington-based tech companies that include Amazon and Microsoft, as well as the city’s chief technology officer, deans from the University of Washington, and industry association representatives, will work together with various city departments on the projects.


“We are fortunate to have the most innovative and forward-looking companies and workers anywhere in the world right here in our backyard working with us on these projects. Working together, we are making progress,” said Durkan in a press release.

The council is to advise the city on how to implement these projects and will also provide technologies such as data analytics tools, dashboards, applications and other software.

Some of the projects will take a new tack on issues the city has struggled to address in recent years, such as homelessness. Amazon, which joined other companies last year in squelching a local corporate tax that would have gone to provide services for homeless people, will assist in the creation of a Homelessness Data Model. The city’s Human Services Department would use the model to automate manual reporting on homeless investments, budgets, outcomes, and program model information. With the help also of the University of Washington and Tableau, a software company that specializes in data visualization, the city plans to deploy the tool by May 15, according to the website.

“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 said. “I am grateful to the Innovation Advisory Council members for their continued partnership and commitment to making Seattle a better, more just place to live and work.”

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