Broadband Conference 2007: The Infrastructure, The Applications

The description from the official agenda:

Track II: Technology – The Infrastructure, The Applications
Suite 2
Community Transformation via Broadband Applications
Hear first hand about new projects underway to deliver to rural Minnesota the broadband promise. A panel of awardees from Blandin Foundation’s Light Speed grants program will talk about their plans, their hopes and their experiences to date.
Panel: Light Speed Grantees
Panelists: Peter Royer; Hutchinson, Pat Wickham ; Lakewood Hospital, Staples, Peter Walsh; Winona, Tom Riordan; Windom
Moderator: Geoff Daily; Assistant Editor, Killer Apps
Get descriptions of the LightSpeed programs: https://blandinonbroadband.wordpress.com/2007/10/24/intro-to-lightspeed/#more-394

What are you going to do with the money?

PW: Money will go to purchases telemedicine unit we need. Want to reimburse folks for in-home care.

TR: We are creating an Internet-ready classroom. The infrastructure is there in the city. One of the first classes will be meteorology. It’s a unique offering and potentially could become a money maker for the school.

Kids will get homework from on-call teachers via web conference in the off hours. Money will go to cameras and equipment needed to facilitate

Setting up a Mass Media class and need the technology required for that. The class will capture school events and publish on the community video server.

PR: We do online learning. We offer Mandarin Chinese – so we’re buying an IP-VCR to allow kids to access the curriculum at the right time. But when you’re working with people all over the world the timing can be an issue. Also now we can record the activities to archive them.

PW: Working on fiber to the household (FTTH) through Hiawatha Broadband. This will provide the infrastructure to allow for a wide range of applications. This will open the door to new ventures – staff training, more communication, videoconferencing with our clients and among clients.

Plan to do video health with local clinic. Plan for visits from social worker through work with the county. Electronic filing system is another project.

The second phase will be train the trainer implementation.

How important is broadband to get communities to connect?

PW: High speed is critical. Access to bandwidth and money were barriers. Blandin match has helped with training.

PR: The speed of the network has gone from 100Mbit to a Gig. And we’re not there yet – but it’s nice to have it. It’s like garage space – once you have it, you use it. School to school connections are nice because they are faster than connecting via Internet.

TR: Broadband is a vital piece to going into the future – especially to keep a small rural community alive. We have a lot of bandwidth and now we want to use it.

PW: We worked with U of M on a telemedicine project but it was first generation – it was too slow to use. Greater broadband will make these tools usable.

What are the other challenges?

PR: Getting people to understand that the technology will get used is tough. Sometimes the supply comes before the demand. But now people understand that they don’t have to get in the car to meet.

PW: MPR interviewed us (Digital Divide) and at that time 50 percent of use of broadband was determined by an age barrier. SO, teaching folks how to use it and why to use it was a challenge.

What marketing have you done?

PW: Not much, we’re already very busy. Get 10-20 customers a month and there is a waiting list. But we know we’ll have to market at some point. Right now we’re a little cheaper than the incumbent.

How are patients reacting to the technology?

PW: A few years ago with the old telemedicine – the customers were wary and it wasn’t very successful. But with the baby boomers people are expecting the hospital to have telemedicine options and glad to participate.

The patients get a telemedicine unit (on loan) – not really a computer. They get virtual visits – not a huge amount of training is required.

What do you think of the current state of applications? Are applications ready to go – or is it still in development?

PW: We have a hard time finding applications. So we invent them. Getting initial buy in as been a challenge. Getting people when they can use the technology soon is key. You learn when there is an urgency.

PR: A lot of the applications are there but the teachers don’t necessarily think it’s easy to use. We went through a technology in the curriculum push – and some folks have taken to it easier than others. The teachers who are users are the best to convince others.

TR: The pieces are there – it’s just a matter of putting it all together. There is a wireless provider in Windom that can provide access for the kids at home – so many kids have the infrastructure and home and homework helpers can also answer email.

PW: The more technology makes life easier or better the easier it is to sell and it’s just a matter getting them to use it.

What’s the role of school librarians?

PR: Some of our trainers were librarians.

TR: Our librarian has not been involved. We only have one and he is very busy.

What can other areas do to promote broadband? Any advice?

TR: We have city council meetings on cable. The next step is to have them live online so that people can ask questions online. It would help get people involved.

PW: Call you senator to get senate funding. We want it for telemedicine and we need contact legislators to sustain it. Medicare doesn’t reimburse for telemedicine. Some/many others do reimburse.

PR: We participate in Internet2 – they signed up to watch the knee replacement online. We need to pay $35,000 to belong to Internet2 – the state wouldn’t it pay for it so a bunch of schools got to get together to get the money – without state help. But we need to get money from the state.

Any info on best practices?

PW: Rural TeleHealth Center is out there with info on QIO that works between homecare providers and medicare.

GD: These programs really highlight the ability of the Internet to bring the community together not just bring outside resources in.

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