Technology Access and Adoption Study

Background and History

The City of Seattle believes that striving for digital equity is essential and improves the quality of life for all in our city. The Technology Access and Adoption study has been commissioned since 2000 and conducated every 4-5 years. It has been a model for others and has provided the city with quality local data and depth on key topics.

Planning is underway in 2022 to update our community data, last collected in 2018. We are working with Pacific Market Research and Inclusive Data to gather input and develop recommendations for the upcoming survey. A lot has changed with the Covid-19 pandemic and the next survey will gauge progress and remaining barriers for communities in need. This will also be the first update since passage of the City's Internet for All resolution in 2020.

The last survey, done in 2018, is reported here and marked the fifth time this research was conducted. These findings help the City of Seattle understand how Seattle residents use technology and the internet. The study also identifies barriers that prevent residents from utilizing digital technologies, which then informs the City's work to ensure access, services and resources necessary for all Seattle residents to thrive.

The results of this research effort provide a comprehensive view into Seattle residents' access and adoption of internet and technology. Key metrics in 2018 were compared to the City of Seattle 2014 Information Technology and Adoption in Seattle Report as well as to the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) for Seattle on digital device ownership and adoption and internet connectivity. 

Though 2018 was the fifth time this research was conducted, some important changes were made to the approach as well as the objectives and question lines. Past surveys also examined barriers, but the 2018 survey provides more depth to the analysis of connectivity levels, as well as attitudes, perceptions, frustrations, barriers, and skill level when it comes to digital engagement. The goal was to present a holistic view of digital engagement and explore not only adoption of devices and access percentages, but also the reasons for those levels of adoption.

The next upcoming survey and how it is conducted will also be revised to collect actionalble data, respond to critical issues that have surfaced, continued improvement to include diverse voices, and current best practices in responsive community information gathering.

For the purposes of the 2018 study, we chose to use the term digital engagement to characterize a level of involvement and capacity by individuals and households to use digital information and communications tools to perform daily activities, including civic and community participation.