When it comes to the World Wide Web, Seattle has its head in the computer cloud. The Emerald City was the only U.S. city to be named one of the most wired in the world.
According to Future Cities, a website dedicated to conversation about global urbanization, Seattle ranks up there with Seoul, Hong Kong and Tokyo among Pacific Rim cities recognized for Digital Age prowess.
The other top-rated cities in the world for Internet connectivity are Prague, Amsterdam, Montreal, Geneva, Stockholm and Vienna.
With the growth of online business, smartphones with mobile applications and social networking, Future Cities rated top wired cities based on those that offered high-quality Internet connectivity based on the following criteria:
• Average Internet connection speed
• Availability of citywide WiFi, preferably free and fast
• Openness to innovation (cities that accommodate startups)
• Support of public data, such as real estate records
• Security and data privacy
Despite Seattle’s lofty position among other world-class cities for Internet connectivity, it comes at the same time that Seattle dropped from No. 1 in 2012 to No. 3 in Forbes magazine’s list of top-rated, “wired” U.S. cities.
In the Forbes’ list, Southern cities like Raleigh, N.C., (with its Research Triangle) and Atlanta scored higher than Seattle for 2013, with the editors there taking direct aim at the surprising swap at the top of their wired cities’ list.
“Raleigh is the kind of tech-forward city that, innovative as it is, often gets overlooked in favor of San Francisco, San Jose, Calif., or Seattle,’’ the magazine stated.
“But this year the North Carolina capital passed its flashier rivals to grab the No. 1 spot on Forbes' Most Wired Cities list. Raleigh's win means it ranks higher overall than any other U.S. city in three measures: Broadband penetration, broadband access and plentiful WiFi hot spots.”
Part of the explanation for the drop is that the city of Seattle dropped its free SeattleWiFi free community wireless service in April 2012.
According to the city, the pilot project had been serving the University District, Columbia City and four downtown parks (Steinbrueck, Occidental, Freeway and Westlake) since 2005. Despite being a well-used service that contributed to revitalization in neighborhoods like Columbia City, the city and the University of Washington pressed local businesses to pick up the service.