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Digital Update: Interim Operations, Canal Wi-Fi Usage, Digital Marin, & More

Posted on January 8, 2021


The Show Goes On: Digital Service Interim Operations  

With the recent departure of our Digital Service Director, Rebecca Woodbury, the Digital team is moving forward with ongoing operations, supporting in-flight projects, and working to setup our next Director for success. In this interim period our Civic Design Manager, Sean Mooney, will be overseeing the Department’s operations and the team is continuing business as usual. The Digital team met early this week to review our goals for the next month and outline expectations for this period. Over the next month we will be working to: 

  • Support the Emergency Operations Center Public Information Office 
  • Provide community engagement strategy and support for Citywide departments  
  • Coordinate citywide technology support with Xantrion  
  • Support in-flight service design projects including permit projects and digital forms 
  • Continue ongoing technology projects including audio/visual projects in the Public Safety Center and the Canal WiFi network 
  • Research and prepare for upcoming budget planning 

We are looking forward to the next phase of our Department and the important role Digital will play in the coming year. Our team is strong and excited for Digital’s role in the coming year 

Canal Wi-Fi Usage Continues to Climb 

Since the launch of the initial phases of the Canal Wi-Fi project data shows increased and steady usage of the network. When joining the network, users are asked to specify the activity or reason for use: School, WorkEmergency Information, or General Internet. Students are given priority speed on the Wi-Fi network and the data shows that visitors selecting “School” as a reason to get on the network are the highest volume of usersWe intentionally chose not to strictly enforce identification of users or their devices for privacy reasons. As we continue to evaluate data about the network’s usage we will be working with our partners in the County, School District, and Canal Alliance to ensure we are using the network and website to provide information and resources based on community needs. 

The graph below displays unique devices.  The blue shaded area is current numbers by date.  The second graph has an orange line showing the 7day average. 

canal wifi usage graph

The initial phases of the Canal Wi-Fi installation are complete.  In the coming weeks, we’ll work with our partners to install mesh access points at three additional locations, further expanding the network. These locations include: 

  1. Cardenas Market and Kerner Health & Human Services medical campus 
  2. the new Homeward Bound location on Mill Street and Canal Street 
  3. 3301 Kerner Boulevard 

In the meantime, check out the Canal Wi-Fi data dashboard and learn how community partners can contribute to this project.

Digital Marin 

The City of San Rafael is part of a new cross-sector effort to develop a countywide strategic plan to address local internet access and digital equity gaps. The project, called Digital Marin, will look beyond infrastructure needs and identify opportunities for data sharing, efficiencies, resiliency, and digital service improvements.  

The plan will outline projects and initiati

ves to help reach these goals: 

  • Everyone has access to high-speed internet and knows how to use it; 
  • Public agencies, nonprofits, and non-governmental organizations share data, where appropriate, to better serve our communities; 
  • Opportunities are highlighted for more efficient, transparent, and customer-oriented cross-jurisdictional and cross-sector service delivery; and 
  • Marin has a resilient information network that can withstand disasters. 

Check out the recent coverage of the initiative by the Marin IJ. 


GovLaunch just released a podcast featuring San Rafael and our work to create a product management playbook. In the private sector, product management is used to focus resources and attention on research, development, evaluation, and improvement of a product. In these cases, the purpose is to create a more competitive product in the marketplace. In the public sector we often think we have no competition, but we do. Rebecca talks about this in the podcast 

“People can choose to go to libraries and community centers in the town next door, or people can choose to not get a permit or not pay a parking ticket. And when people choose not to do these things, the outcomes down the road are not ones I think anybody wants. And so when you think of people not doing these things as your competition, then it rea

lly makes you look deeply at how easy something is to accomplish or who do you need to better design things for to increase compliance.”  

Digital started developing a Product Management Playbook for San Rafael last year, but it wasn’t until recently that our intern Shannon was able to build out content for all of the phases. Shannon researched product management in both the public and private sectors, as well as our internal resources from the Learning Lab. This playbook helps us apply a “product” mindset to our services and outlines methods for user research, service design, piloting, and promoting our services so they are easy to use and work for everyone. These methods help us make sure that we are always improving our services so they work for people who need them. 

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