Governor’s Task Force on Broadband full notes for March 2015: security, infrastructure and the Internet of big things

We learned a lot about security, infrastructure and the Internet of big things today – things like bridges and cars. On the one hand it is exciting to hear about how broadband can be used to do ongoing monitoring of bridges to make us safer and can help guide cars to improve environmental impacts, time in traffic jams and again safety. On the other hand it’s daunting to hear how vulnerable it makes us to have everything become so automated and access to operating  systems and data become easier to get through technology.

I have full notes – but am hoping to add PPTs later if I can. The Task Force tried something new – at the end of this post, they each told about what they found most remarkable in the meeting. (A nice shortcut to what transpired.)

[added 3/26]

Thanks to the Office of Broadband Development for post the PPTs online:

[added 4/17]

Thanks to the OBD, a couple more PPTs:

<!–Broadband Task Force

Crash Help Case Study – Lee Munnich Presentation

Bridge Monitoring – Shield Presentation

10:00 – 10:15 a.m. Introductions/Public Comments/Approval of Minutes from February 18, 2015 meeting

There will not be a Task Force meeting in April. And the Governor is expected to announce new Task Force members before May and there isn’t a good feel about whether those will be new people or the same people currently in the room.

There were 50 applications for Task Force members. There is greater awareness of the Task Force.

10:15 – 10:30 a.m. Update from Office of Broadband Development

They have been working to move forward with the folks who received funding. They started with a meetings of everyone on March 3.

Legislatively a few bills have been introduced – but tomorrow is a big hurdle so more will be known after the session tomorrow.

On a federal level, the Net Neutrality bill and move to removing state barriers to municipal networks have been very big issues. But there are a lot of forbearances so it will be interesting to see how things shake out.

Maureen reports: Healthcare parity bill has passed to Finance – from Health & Human Services. The parity bill says telehealth visits that are simultaneous audio & visual will get paid the same as regular visits. That’s already happening in rural areas – this lifts the urban ban. And it would cover more types of healthcare providers (dentists, audiologists, et al). It also increases number of sites that are eligible – such as group homes assisted living centers and homes. There is pushback from commercial payers. We’re at the beginning of customer demand in rural areas.

More updates:

Expands sales tax exemption for broadband providers – that’s moving forward. There were questions about if you had to choose where would you move that exemption?

The House Rural Development committee – the fund bill was heard Krensha asked for $50 million – but it was increased to $160 million over the next biennium.

Task Force had been to senate committee on educational technology and at the House last week. It was a good overview for the committees.

10:30 – 11:00 a.m. Review of the February 18, 2015 Meeting Summary. For inclusion in the annual report.

11:00 – 11:30 a.m. Telecommuting: Required Conditions and How it Benefits Everyone: Frank Douma and Adeel Lari, Humphrey School of Public Affairs; University of Minnesota

Learning about the eWorkPlace

Driving forces:

  • Traffic congestion
  • Same old approach will give same results
  • MN was selected to be part of an urban study
  • Transportation is cause of 30 percent of greenhouse gases.
  • Traffic jams account for 4.2B hours of delay and 2.8B gallons of gas are wasted in the US; in MN the impact is $1.5BCreated – provides resources to support telework, such as policy templates & advice

Encouraged (50+) employer partners and 4200 employeesMeasured results

67 percent of employees felt more productive

The role for broadband:

  •  You need connectivity
  • It needs to be reliable
  • Cost needs to be similar throughout state
  • Most folks have a cell phone but to telecommute you need reliable access at home

Questions –

Anything about employers subsiding home access?
10 years ago – yes; but not anymore. In part because most people participating are middle class. There is a significant benefit to employee so they subsidize it.At Thomson they used to subsidize it – but eventually they realized that people had the access anyway and it wasn’t use exclusively for work.

Did you look at public vs private employees? We were workers salary or hourly?
Hennepin County was biggest employer. There wasn’t that much of a difference. There is more sensitivity in public sector because one employee “relaxing” on the job can be newsworthy.Middle management was the biggest hurdle.

Have you looked at how many original partners are still allowing telework?
We are going to. Yahoo was a big voice in the matter – but in reality nothing has changed. We will be looking at this with Met Council funds.

Was there any discussion on minimum technology requirements?
It varied by employer. We had expertise to help businesses through the process. There was very little desire for the counseling in the field.

DO state and federal government have telework policies? Do most business have a policy?
The feds have a law that encourage telecommuting. There are goals – but the goals have not been met. The state has a statute but no goals. Mostly it’s ad hoc policies. The larger the business the greater the likeliness of having a policy.We had draft policies available.IN healthcare we run into privacy and security issues.

The more we do 24 hours service, the more we have to telework options. But how can we assure privacy? Did you have consent forms?We did talk to Mayo – but they were working more with back office.
The electronic records will help – privacy for patent means privacy for workers.

What about non-telecommuting coworkers?
Making everyone aware is helpful – and letting people know who can do it and who can’t.Part of the issue is getting workers in the office to recognize that people at home are working – so it is OK to call them.You need to have very clear measurable objectives.

Did you see any reduction in travel costs?
We didn’t ask.

11:30 – 12:00 p.m. The Role of Broadband in Bridge Monitoring in Minnesota: Carol Shield, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering; University of Minnesota

Bridges are complicated and they generally deteriorate locally. Traffic over the bridge isn’t as big an issue as the weather in Minnesota.

Wired internet connection for data download on sensors allows for smarter analysis, messaging and access to data.

We want to extend the life of bridges through better broadband. We can augment inspections that happen every two years. We want to integrate monitoring into existing processes.

There’s a lot of detail in bridge management. On a high level – a lot of sensors can be used to track a ton of data. The data can be used to create models that recognize and predict “normal” and can send email alters when something abnormal comes up. The augments the regular (every 2 year) inspections.

We might more to campaign monitoring – which means sharing monitoring equipment and monitoring individual bridges for segments of time – say 6 months BECAUSE deterioration happens over time. Rarely does something happen suddenly.

Remote monitoring means less going out to the bridge to check things out and it leaves much of the data processing to machines, which reduces costs greatly. BUT it required broadband.


How is climate changing impacting stress?
Thermal grading is the issue. Sunny summer days the deck can get to 140 degree – where the bottom of the deck can be 60 degrees. Solar radiation is the issue. If anything climate change can help in Minnesota.

What is the cost of a sensor bridge outlay?
$500-800 per wired sensor; $400 per wireless sensor

The sensor system for $300,000 for 35W bridge – ongoing costs are about $50,000 per year. Those costs will come down with greater automation.

The U of M just hired staff to think more about this and find ways to reduce costs.

What else should we be thinking of?

12:00 – 12:30 p.m. Lunch

12:30 – 1:00 p.m. The Role of Wireless in Rural Emergency Response: CrashHelp Case Study: Lee Munnich, Humphrey School of Public Affairs; University of Minnesota

The worked with EMS to use secure mobile app to help victims of rural car crashes because fatality rates from car crashes is so much higher than in urban areas. (60 percent in the US and 70 percent in Minnesota.)

They created and Android App. The real issue was getting the new system to work with legacy systems and processes. BUT research indicated that improved communication between the time or crash report and patient drop off would help increase odds of recovery.

They found that audio was a bigger deal to users than pictures of video. Staff did find that the new tools were pretty easy to use.

There were wireless gaps and that hurt. The value was greater when distance was greater.


  1. Mobile EMS has promise in rural areas
  2. Mobile access was generally available, with notable exception of outlying areas
  3. There is not a sustain able business model for bringing such innovations to rural areasThis sounds like a good project to connect with FirstNet. There was interaction with EMS a few years ago when we did this.

1:00 Connected VehiclesToday’s transportation challenges

Mobility – 5.5 billion hours of delay

  1. FCC allocated 5.9 GHz (75 MHz band spectrum) – Dedicated Shirt Range Communications (DSRC) for transportation safety in 1999
  2. Environment – 2.9 gallons of wasted fuels
  3. Safety – 33,000 deaths (2012)
  • Low latency, line of sight
  • High bandwidth, 300-500m range
  • Now established a standard, IEEE 802.11p & SAEJ2735Regular GPS is l=close to about 10 meters – that doesn’t help with highway applications. The minimum requirement is within the lane.

What is DRSC?

  • It broadcasts basic info 10 times per second
  • Vehicle position, speed, heading, acceleration, braking speed
  • Challenge is privacy
  • Both vehicles need to be equipped with systems

Scope of work

  • Safety – communication among vehicles, infrastructure
  • Mobility – signal control
  • Environment – real time road weather

Benefits of connected vehicles

  • Safety and mobility
  • Efficiency
  • Decrease negative environmental impact
  • Real-time and real world data provides good research aids in planning
  • Reduction of fatalities

When information is more reliable, people will pay more attention. The example is work zones. We see them even no work is happening, we grow skeptical of the signs.

Good use of connected vehicles in MN?
Multi-vehicle gang plowing. Keeping spacing perfect – better roads, safer plowing

Questions –About traffic light control for people with low vision.

DO current traffic lights have capacity to help manage interaction with mobile apps?
It might require some adaption and/or tie in with central traffic management processing.

1:30 – 2:00 p.m. Collision Course: Hackers and the Automated Car: Brian Isles, Adventium Labs and Senior Fellow, Technology Leadership Institute; University of Minnesota

Your car is a computer with 4 wheels. Prius (and others) has a blue tooth for entertainment but on the same network as brakes and steering. With a BMW you can get from a cell phone to the SIM card in the car.

What we’re looking at in cars, we already have in air traffic.Robotic cards need to talk to each other and the road.Robotaxis can slash fares – but privacy is an issue.

Most car manufacturers collect personal data. They track your location, you speed, car crashes…Internet of everything….

SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) is a system operating with coded signals over communication channels so as to provide control of remote equipment (using typically one communication channel per remote station).

SCADA systems can be vulnerable and have been for 25 years. Why is SCADA difficult? The Vendors are slow to install security. Folks are afraid of what will happen in upgrades/modifications.

SCADA systems are vulnerable to attack because the people who develop them are not security minded. And interdependencies exasperates the issues. Folks are using wireless networks for secure processes when wireless was never intended for secure applications. What do bad guys want?

  • Your data and your money.
  • Access/info to credentials for later.
  • Ability to send attack and slow things down

About 7 years ago primary hacking went from “joy riding” to folks who were serious about wreaking havoc and making money.

Security Path Forward


    • “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, defeated warriors go to war first and seek to win.” Sun Tzu
    • Establish security organization built on clear policies, procedures, best practices and trained personnel


    • Buy from vendors who build security and deliver in secure mode.
    • Standard “security language” for RFPs and POS.


  • Specify only products that are cyber tested and certified
  • System architecture with focus on security and resilience
  • Adopt a full life cycle view of security

Attacks are still pretty simple and often user error. We need to close the easy doors. Winning will require persistence, alertness and agility.


Transportation doesn’t necessarily talk to electrical engineer doesn’t necessarily talk to security experts. From a policy perspective maybe we can highlight the need for these worlds to talk to each other or otherwise communicate to each other.

How can we help inform people?
It goes deeper. I could teach a group of third graders how to break into pad locks with a YouTube video.

What can the Task Force do?
Recommend that people start thinking of security – whether they buy or build.

2:00 – 2:30 p.m. Meeting Summary Discussion

I apologize for the horrendous camera work – I wanted to type the responses as well. And the audio is really more important. (But yes, I’ll be keeping my day job as a writer!)

  • State goals should include security
  • We have to think like the Jetson’s – it’s scary to think about what folks can get.
  • We need to build out security specifications
  • The first broadband task force did recommend a security study. In 2013, Rep Halverson wrote legislation and we’re looking at that.
  • The report should talk about the cross sector piece. We need to see how different parts of the world and effecting each other – like transportation, broadband and security.
  • It costs a lot to reach the goal; security will be competing for those dollars.
  • We need to get public works involved too.
  • Access to communication can make us safer too – if it means faster access to first responders.
  • Updating rural EMS application would be interesting.
  • We need to consider the lunatic fringe.
  • We should advocate for state centralized office or entity to work on cyber security for many reasons – like banking
  • Cyber security would make a good sub committee
  • The Internet of Things would be a good future topic
  • The Office of Broadband will come back with an update on cyber security  From the Minnesota Broadband Conference sponsored by Blandin Foundation

2:30 – 3:00 p.m. Task Force Member Thank You and Wrap-Up

I didn’t take notes here – but to a person everyone was grateful for the friend they had met and learning that had gone on. They praised the previous Task Forces – especially the groundbreaking first Task Force and celebrated the progress that had been made.

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