Seattle is a city that has embraced tech and adores committees, so the most surprising thing about the creation of the Innovation Advisory Council (IAC) last week wasn’t that it happened, but that it hadn’t happened already.
The IAC brings together representatives from private companies and organizations including Amazon, Microsoft and Tableau to ostensibly find new, innovative solutions to Seattle’s most pressing problems such as the homelessness crisis and the oncoming transportation apocalypse.
What this means, precisely, is not clear. In the announcement, the Mayor’s Office emphasized that the IAC will focus on “issue identification, policy recommendations and project implementation of technology solutions including new data analytics, dashboards, applications and software for the city.”
The inclusion of Amazon on a body tasked with working on the twin crises of homelessness and affordability has already raised eyebrows. The online retailing behemoth led the charge against a tax to fund homelessness services just last month. The tax was passed and then swiftly repealed by the City Council within a matter of weeks, in no small part because of business pressure. Amazon is also often pointed to as a driver of displacement and high housing costs.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
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