About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

International Falls supports federal broadband investment as using money efficiently

International Falls Journal posts an editorial in support of federal spending..

The fund will award high-cost support to distribute broadband service in rural areas. In a letter, the senators, including Minnesota’s Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar, called on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to ensure that broadband networks built in rural areas using the money are able keep up with future demands for speed and capacity, and to hold support recipients accountable for providing adequate broadband service to consumers.

This need is not something new to Borderland. And we applaud the senators who told Pai their rural constituents need access to services that are on par with those in urban areas if rural communities are to survive and flourish.

The FCC plays a critical role in connecting rural communities to high-speed internet through the universal service fund. It would be a waste of money to provide funds for services that can’t keep up with consumer demand and the improved broadband in urban areas.

Clearly, it only makes sense that as the FCC moves forward to adopt new rules in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund proceeding, Pai promotes the building networks that will be sustainable even as new advancements are made and are capable of delivering the best level of broadband access for the available USF budget for many years to come.

With limited resources and great need, the importance of using the money most efficiently by building sustainable networks that meet the needs of consumers now and in the future becomes more clear.

EVENT DECEMBER 17: Klobuchar Staff to Hold Public Roundtable Discussions on Transportation, Infrastructure, Broadband, and Housing in Minnesota

My plan is to follow along, take notes and livestream. I’ve joined them in the past and they tone has been very conversational so if you have something to say, you might want to show up…

Klobuchar’s staff will hold meetings with state and local officials and community organizations to discuss transportation, infrastructure, broadband, and housing needs

Members of the public are invited to join these discussions and share their communities’ successful projects and priorities for future needs

MINNEAPOLIS– On Tuesday, December 17, representatives from U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office will meet with state and local officials and community organizations for a series of public roundtable discussions to highlight local and regional transportation, infrastructure, broadband, and housing successes, current projects and future needs. Members of the public are invited to join these discussions and share their perspectives on the importance of investing in regional community development projects.

Klobuchar’s staff will host roundtable discussions in Mankato and Windom. These events are free and members of the public are encouraged to attend.

Tuesday, December 17

11:00 a.m.

Blue Earth County Courthouse, Third Floor Conference Room

204 South 5th Street

Mankato, MN 56001

2:30 p.m.

Windom City Hall, Council Chambers

444 9th Street

Windom, MN 56101

Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, has consistently called for greater infrastructure investments. Klobuchar was one of the first Democratic Senators to support the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. In December 2015, the FAST Act directed more than $4 billion over five years in federal funding for Minnesota to invest in its roads, bridges and transit systems.

As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, Klobuchar has long championed closing the digital divide and expanding access to the internet. In July, Klobuchar and Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), Gary Peters (D-MI), and John Thune’s (R-SD) bipartisan legislation to improve the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) broadband coverage maps passed the Senate Commerce Committee. The Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act would require the FCC to collect more granular data from fixed, wireless, and satellite broadband providers, strengthen the accuracy of data from mobile broadband providers, consider a process to ensure data is reliable, and create a process for state, local, and Tribal governments to challenge the FCC maps’ accuracy. In June, Klobuchar and Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-WV) legislation to improve broadband connectivity passed the Senate. The Measuring the Economic Impact of Broadband Act would require the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in consultation with the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Technology, to conduct a study of the effects of the digital economy and the adoption of broadband deployment on the U.S. economy. Klobuchar and Wicker also led the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act, which was signed into law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. The bipartisan legislation directs the FCC to establish a task force to identify gaps in broadband coverage and encourage broadband deployment on farms and ranchland.

Klobuchar has supported various housing programs including the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), the Home Investment Partnerships Program (the HOME Program), the USDA Rural Housing Programs, and funds from the Community Development Block Grant.

Farm to farm telehealth – can it help curb rural suicide rates?

Pew Research recently posted about telehealth in rural areas, specifically farms, using Minnesota as an example…

On most days, therapist Becky Kopp-Dunham counsels farmers and other clients across 10 North Dakota towns from her home office on a crop and cattle farm in Morehead, Minnesota.

With a reliable internet connection and videoconferencing service, Kopp-Dunham can inform and treat patients in rural and remote places. …

She and her colleagues call it “farm-to-farm therapy,” but it’s widely known among medical providers as telehealth delivery of mental health services. It’s just one of the many approaches states are taking to address mental health among rural and agricultural populations, as the need rises against the backdrop of a struggling farm economy.

This year at least seven states, including Colorado, Kentucky, Minnesota, New York, Texas, Oregon and Wisconsin, considered bills to boost local mental health authorities. Several, including Minnesota, New York and Wisconsin, focus on agricultural communities. Some are related to strengthening farm finances, but also intended to support mental health and well-being. It’s unclear to what extent state efforts will fulfill the need.

Rural areas have a triple whammy, there are fewer providers, greater distance between patients and the suicide rate is higher…

Rural residents experience mental disorders and drug addiction just as much as their urban counterparts, and their need for mental health services is similar. But rural suicide rates are greater than urban ones, and the gap has grown steadily since 1999.

And yet, rural people have less access to treatment sources. There’s a stark lack of providers in rural counties given the vast territory and small populations. Most areas with a shortage of mental health providers are partially or entirely rural, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And since 2010, 119 rural hospitals have closed.

There have been federal efforts to increase access to healthcare…

In October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the regional recipients of four grants totaling $1.9 million to provide stress assistance programs to people in agriculture.

The grantees will launch the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, which was authorized in the 2018 farm bill signed by Trump last December. The funding will support more rural mental health research, programming and trained staffing.

The farm bill also increased the annual budget for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, from $75 million to $82 million, through fiscal 2023. The program helps rural communities use telecommunications to address challenges related to isolation and low population density.

And state efforts…

Meanwhile, Minnesota increased its annual appropriation to the state Department of Agriculture from $113,000 to $250,000 to add a second therapist focused on farmers and other statewide mental health counseling to farm families and business operators through the state college system.

In April, the University of Minnesota Extension formed a task force to provide educational programs and resources related to stress and mental health. Emily Wilmes, who leads the group, knows farmers who have committed suicide.

“I received a call I’ll never forget, Sept. 12, 2018, from a dairy farmer, a close friend,” Wilmes said. “He informed me quickly in our conversation that another dairy farmer had died by suicide the day before. The pain in his voice was something I’ll never forget. It turns out that dairy farmer was the father of a college classmate.”

In recognition of the financial concerns that can affect mental health, Minnesota also created a program that awards grants to eligible dairy farmers to encourage participation in the federal Dairy Margin Coverage program, financial protection for dairy producers when the margin between feed costs and milk prices falls below a certain amount, said state Rep. Jeanne Poppe, a Democrat who sponsored the bill. The North Star State lost about 10% of its dairy operations last year.

Besides competing priorities in tight budgets, another challenge for legislators is to know how to address the economic needs of various levels and types of agriculture — and when to act, said Poppe, who represents southeastern Minnesota.

Need a broadband adoption project idea? Matrix of Blandin broadband projects 2018-2020

Blandin Foundation has just posted an updated version of the Blandin Broadband Communities project matrix. It includes brief descriptions of projects supported by Blandin and deployed by BBC participants. I’ll paste an abbreviated form of the matrix below – but it’s easier to read on the Blandin website

Community Project Name Project Description
Cannon Falls Cannon Falls Local Foods Initiative Project support to define, develop and position a brand that promotes Cannon Falls as the local food capital of Minnesota emphasizing the recreational, scenic, and healthy living assets of the community.
Koochiching Technology Initiative Backus Conferencing Upgrades Project support to upgrade interactive videoconferencing equipment and capabilities at the Backus Community Center.
Koochiching Technology Initiative Internet for the Homeless Project support to improve internet access at Servants of Shelter, which provides emergency shelter to individuals and families in Koochiching County. The upgraded capacity will allow clients to research employment, education and housing opportunities.
Koochiching Technology Initiative KCC TV Local Media: Local Lives Project support to increase locally-generated and relevant media content that reflects the lived experience and perspective of county residents available on Koochiching County Community Television by building a coalition of students and other residents trained to use cameras and editing equipment.
Koochiching Technology Initiative Birchdale Coworking Space Project support to promote entrepreneurship and improve internet access and use by adding a co-working space to the Birchdale Community Building in the unincorporated community of Birchdale. Residents can reserve the internet-enabled facility to conduct business, host meetings or attend online classes. The space will utilize the community building’s internet and other facilities.
Koochiching Technology Initiative Coworking Meetups Project support for creating a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship by helping Ballan’s iSpace, a new co-working facility in downtown International Falls, offer relevant programming in partnership with the International Falls Public Library and Borderland Young Professionals. Partners will host weekly gatherings of mutual support to share knowledge, build skills, network, and inspire one another.
Koochiching Technology Initiative The Library Reaches Into the Community Project support to increase broadband adoption and use by helping the International Falls Public Library expand its services in the community, including through improved Wi-Fi access at Smokey Bear Park, six LinkedIn Learning mobile internet subscriptions for check-out, expanded reference service to  texting and LiveChat, and the addition of  Adobe Creative Cloud software for use by patrons in the library’s new recording studio.
Rock County Library Hotspots Project support to provide five mobile Wi-Fi hotspots for check-out free-of-charge to library patrons.
Rock County Blue Mound Towers Computer Lab Project support to provide computer access to tenants at the Blue Mound Tower, a 70-unit income-based housing facility in Luverne. Tenants will be encouraged to attend computer training classes at the Rock County Senior Center or Community Library.
Rock County School Bus Wi-Fi Implementation Project support to improve public internet access and use by installing wireless routers on ten Luverne school buses and four Hills-Beaver Creek school buses, allowing student riders access to homework and projects via smart devices.
Rock County Educational Videos and Classroom Tech Training Project support to improve public digital literacy and technical sophistication by creating and publishing on the internet a series of locally contextualized and informed educational videos.
Rock County Sr. Center Computer Lab Project support to establish a six-computer lab in a newly renovated senior facility in Luverne.
Rock County Ag Tech Day Project support to design and host a day-long community workshop on various ag tech topics.
Rock County Community Ed Technology Upgrade Project support to purchase a quality laptop computer compatible with Community Ed’s wall-mounted flat screen TV, allowing instructors to demonstrate internet access, websites and other media for their students.
Rock County Additional PCs for People Computers Project support to purchase ten additional refurbished computers from PCs for People to distribute to community members in need.
Rock County County Fair Booth Project support to increase awareness of and engagement in Rock County’s Blandin Broadband Community projects through a booth at the Rock County Fair.
Rock County Social Media Optimization Project support to offer social media training and coaching to ten businesses and ten organizations in Rock County.
Rock County Blue Mound State Park Wi-Fi Project support to improve public access to the internet by providing free public Wi-Fi at Blue Mound State Park campground.
Rock County Hardwick Campground Wi-Fi Project support to improve public access to the internet by providing free public Wi-Fi at the Hardwick campground.
Rock County Hills Campground Wi-Fi Project support to improve public access to the internet by providing free public Wi-Fi at the Hills campground.
Rock County Magnolia Campground Wi-Fi Project support to improve public access to the Internet by providing free public Wi-Fi at the Magnolia campground.
Rock County Beaver Creek Baseball Field Wi-Fi Project support to improve public access to the Internet by providing free public Wi-Fi at the Beaver Creek baseball field and park.
Rock County SWMHC/Avera Health Distance Learning and Telemedicine Project support to improve access to distance learning and mental health care services through the purchase of telemedicine equipment.
Rock County Jasper Campground Wi-Fi Project support to improve public access to the Internet by providing free public Wi-Fi at the Jasper campground.
Rock County Technology Classes Project support to improve digital skills and literacy by offering a series of technology-focused community education classes based on community interests and needs.
Swift County Training for CNC and Welding Project support to offer a five-week Weld and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) certificate program to Swift County residents through a combination of online, classroom and shop experience.
Swift County Digital Marketing Consulting Project support to improve local business profitability by engaging seven small business owners (selected through an application process) in hands-on consulting to develop and implement affordable website and social media strategies, resulting in increased brand awareness and customer base.
Swift County Community Websites Project support to develop customized community profiles and websites for Swift County cities without current websites, including Clontarf, Danvers, DeGraff, and Holloway.
Swift County STEM Camp for Kids Project support for a low-cost summer STEM Camp for children entering 2nd through 7th grade utilizing proven curriculum provided by the National Inventors Hall of Fame to enhance kids’ skills in the areas of robotics, coding, and other STEM areas.
Swift County 4-H Extension Mobile App Project support to create a mobile app allowing r 4-H families across Swift County to easily access 4-H information and resources; including schedules, show programs, results, event sign-up, and training.
Swift County Digital Marketing for Community & Economic Dev. Orgs Project support to convene an ongoing peer communication/marketing roundtable where tools and best practices can be shared, and communication strategies aligned to strengthen community and economic development.
East Range Joint Powers Board Portable Training Lab Project support to develop a mobile training lab to provide computer/technology training and job search skills to East Range residents.
East Range Joint Powers Board (ERJPB) ERJPB Website Project support to create a new website to better inform the community about East Range Joint Powers Board and community activities, including the Blandin Broadband Community, with the goal of promoting cooperation across communities, creating a centralized point for information about telecommunications technology in the region, and raising awareness about ERJPB-supported broadband work on the East Range.
East Range Joint Powers Board East Range Business Retention and Expansion Visits Project support to solicit input from area business on their broadband familiarity, use, needs, etc.; and to seek to engage them in the BBC process, and strengthen the case for greater connectivity on the East Range.
East Range Joint Powers Board Public Wi-Fi Project support to improve internet access by expanding public Wi-Fi access in areas inside and outside of public buildings at the City of Biwabik, and libraries in the cities of Hoyt Lakes and Aurora.
Laurentian Chamber of Commerce Gilbert Campground Project support to improve public access to the internet through the installation of a fiber connection to the Gilbert Campground and of a free public internet access point.
Laurentian Chamber of Commerce Digital Marketing / Technology Audits for Area Businesses Project support to improve the online presence and profitability of ten local businesses by providing technical assistance, including an audit of the businesses’ current technology platforms, websites, and use of social media.
Laurentian Chamber of Commerce Chamber Technology Upgrades Project support to improve the ability of the Chamber of Commerce to host businesses and chamber members for meetings and events through the purchase of a new computer with upgraded software, projector, screen and a Bluetooth conferencing unit.
Laurentian Chamber of Commerce PCs for People Distribution Event Enhancement Project support to improve digital literacy skills of local residents through training, education and other support to the recipients of computers distributed by PCs for People as part of the Blandin Broadband Community Program.
Laurentian Chamber of Commerce Wi-Fi in the Parks Project support to improve public access to the internet by installing Wi-Fi hotspots in three public parks in the cities of Eveleth, Gilbert, and Virginia.
Laurentian Chamber of Commerce Small Business Saturday App Project support to improve small local business profitability on Small Business Saturday and throughout the year through the development of an app that shoppers can use to learn about local options and enable participating businesses to share promotional offers.
Laurentian Chamber of Commerce Virtual Interview Room Project support to increase employment opportunities for people using the Workforce Center by providing a remote interview cubicle with a computer, camera, and microphone. The equipment may also be used for training purposes, specifically on interview skills.
Laurentian Chamber of Commerce Interactive Television Project support to increase access to training by installing an interactive television (ITV) at the Workforce Center to allow staff and the public to videoconference, participate in remote trainings, increase training opportunities, reduce travel costs, etc.
Laurentian Chamber of Commerce Safe, Accessible Public Wi-Fi Project support to improve access to the internet by providing dedicated, comfortable, and safe spaces in three public locations in Eveleth where residents, visitors and guests can access Wi-Fi.
Laurentian Chamber of Commerce Wi-Fi on Buses in the Eveleth-Gilbert and Virginia Schools Project support to improve public internet access and use by installing Wi-Fi on school buses, allowing students who rely on school bus transportation access for school work.
Laurentian Chamber of Commerce Fayal Township Website Upgrade Project support to create a new, upgraded website for Fayal Township that will allow features such as a community calendar, forms and permit applications for download, and enable better communication between residents and Township officials.
Iron Range Tourism Bureau Internet Access Assessment Project support to conduct an assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges of internet connectivity at area attractions, lodging, campgrounds, and trails.
Iron Range Tourism Bureau Talent Attraction Microsite Project support to create and market a fun and informative microsite on Iron Range Tourism Bureau’s website that will provide needed information for those seeking to relocate to the area, including housing, daycare, what to expect during winter, etc.
Iron Range Tourism Bureau Local Pride Campaign Project support to launch a social marketing campaign to promote local pride and a positive sense of place.
Iron Range Tourism Bureau Small Business Trainings Project support to improve the technology and online marketing skills of tourism businesses to enhance their profitability through one-on-one trainings.
Iron Range Tourism Bureau Interactive Arts Map Project support to create an interactive online map to showcase and promote the work of local artists, cultural opportunities, and cultural sites in the region.
Iron Range Tourism Bureau Virtual Reality Mine Tour Project support to create an interactive, virtual mine tour experience so visitors can learn about the mining process and history via technology.
Tower EDA Workstation for Public Access Project support to improve public access to the internet by providing a workstation with a computer and printer in the new community room at the Breitung town hall.
Tower EDA Hoo Doo Point Campground Wi-Fi Project support to improve public access to the internet by providing Wi-Fi throughout Hoo Doo Point Campground.
Tower EDA Broadband Access to the Tower Depot and Farmer’s Market Project support to improve public access to the internet by providing Wi-Fi access to people using the Tower Depot for information, and to Farmer’s Market participants and visitors.
Tower EDA School and Community Connectivity Project support to improve digital literacy skills and technology use by creating and supporting a mobile computer lab and AV display for the Tower-Soudan Elementary School media center that will be accessible to the community as well as students.
Tower EDA Senior / Public / Student Access Computer Lab Project support to improve digital literacy skills and technology use by creating a 12-computer lab and AV display that can be used by the school, as an internet café for AEOA Senior Dining clients, and the general public through Tower-Soudan Community Ed classes and VCS after school parental involvement classes.
Tower EDA Interactive Field Trip and Music Lab Project support to improve digital literacy skills and training opportunities for students and the public by expanding the Vermilion School computer lab into a space that can be used for interactive educational and community education programming, virtual field trips, visits with scientists and writers, along with technology to create a digital music lab, including a digital piano and other instruments.
Tower EDA Smartboards in our Classrooms Project support to improve technology use by installing Smartboards in VCS classrooms, particularly math and science rooms, and to take full advantage of the new fiber optic capabilities to the school building.
Laurentian / Tower / East Range Laurentian-Tower-East Range (LTE) Broadband Feasibility Study Project support to explore options to expand broadband infrastructure and services by conducting a feasibility study throughout the Quad Cities / Tower / East Range JPB area. They will also use this process to identify potential partners to provide these services.
Aitkin County Wi-Fi Hotspot in Jacobson Community Center Project support to increase public access to the internet by installing a 25 megabit-per-second Wi-Fi hotspot in the Jacobson Community Center; a hub that hosts many local events and is an East Central Regional Library remote site.
Aitkin County High-Speed Broadband at LLCC Project support to install high-speed fiber optic broadband at the Long Lake Conservation Center, enabling higher internet speeds and increased educational programming.
Aitkin County Increase MyChart Usage at Riverwood Healthcare Center Project support to increase the use of the MyChart online patient portal amongst patients and caregivers at Riverwood Healthcare Center, which allows patients better access to their electronic health records, and to schedule appointments, contact their provider, view test results, monitor health maintenance, etc.
Aitkin County Enhance Interactive Community Conference Centers Project support to increase access to training and decrease meeting travel by enhancing and expanding the existing interactive capabilities at the well-used community conference centers in Aitkin and McGregor by adding interactive cameras to allow for onsite and offsite use.
Chisholm Wi-Fi Hotspots for Check-out Project support to increase students’ access to the internet at home by making hotspots available for check-out by students at the Chisholm Public School Library.
Chisholm Distance Learning Program Project support to improve Minnesota Discovery Center’s public outreach by establishing a distance learning program related to Iron Range history and natural history for remote audiences, including a mobile cart with video conferencing capabilities
Ely Google Local Listings Project support to create a website to showcase Ely to prospective residents, businesses, and visitors, including information on cost of living, the arts, restaurants, churches, business opportunities, infrastructure, etc.
Ely Community Building Skilllshares Project support to improve local business profitability through free professional training on internet and social media use offered through Ten Below Coworking.
Ely Proximity Beacons Project support to promote local events and businesses by using Wi-Fi enabled Bluetooth proximity beacons to deliver fun, interactive and unique experiences to park visitors.
Ely Ely through my Eyes Project support to kick-off a promotional video series with four episodes that highlight Ely through diverse stories of the unique characters found within the community.
Ely Arts Directory Project support to promote area artists by creating a web-directory that will link artists, art consumers, and material providers in an easy-to-access and easy-to-maintain website.
Ely Ely Meetup Project support to increase the sophistication of Ely’s web presence through the use of Meetup.com software by businesses and organizations to consolidate and post all community event listings online in one location.
Grizzlies (Bois Forte, Cook, Orr) Community Education Project support to increase internet access, digital literacy and technology use by providing adult education classes and public Wi-Fi at the Orr Center.
Grizzlies Wi-Fi Hotspots and Adult Education Project support to increase internet access, digital literacy and technology use by providing public Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi hotspots for check-out, and technology training and activities at the Cook Library.
Grizzlies QuickBooks Business Training Project support to improve business technology skills by providing technical training and support for small business owners on QuickBooks.
Grizzlies Native Video Archive Project support to establish a Native Video Archiving program with videos of various events so future generations can see, about learn about culturally significant activity throughout the reservation.
Grizzlies Grizzlies Sports Blog and Website Project support to provide digital literacy and skills to students and community members through training in journalism, web design, and blogging while promoting a sense of one-ness between the three communities in the North Woods school district by establishing a webpage designed specifically to cover all Grizzlies sporting events and programs.
Hibbing Aging in Place Through Technology Project support to increase internet use by utilizing smart home technology to create environmental control and enhance safety and security within homes to allow seniors to successfully age in place.
Hibbing Public Housing / Downtown Mesh Wi-Fi Network Project support to increase public access to the internet by providing affordable Wi-Fi to up to 60 low-income families at the public housing facility, with the potential to provide free access in public areas and to businesses in the downtown area within two blocks of the facility.
Hibbing Monthly Business Meetup Meetings Project support to increase the profitability of Hibbing area businesses by offering free monthly meetups with paid facilitators that focus on topics such as entrepreneurship, financial management, human resources, marketing, workflow mgmt, and technology.
Hibbing iPads in Emergency Dept, Hibbing Fire Dept, and Ambulances Project support to provide critical visual connectivity between first responders and emergency department providers by placing iPads in the Fairview Range Emergency Room, six Hibbing Fire Dept vehicles, three Nashwauk ambulances, and two Chisholm ambulances.
Hibbing Serenity House iPad Project support to provide internet access to patients and family members visiting Hibbing for cancer treatments by offering two iPads and a hotspot at Serenity House.
Mt. Iron-Buhl Internet Upgrades Project support to increase internet access and digital literacy skills by expanding Wi-Fi throughout the Mesabi Family YMCA facility, offering science and technology programs for youth, and through implementing the Open Y platform which allows for more up-to-date website, apps, etc.
Mt. Iron-Buhl Environmental Community Learning Center Project support to invite and encourage students and community members to engage with technology to enrich their environment learning by establishing an outdoor learning lab with 12 GPS units, geocaching containers, a weather station, and a community greenhouse.
Mt. Iron-Buhl Technology Inspired Design Program Project support to improve digital literacy and technology skills by making the school’s STEM Lab available and accessible to the broader population, and to develop a multi-facetted approach to teaching students and community members about the endless creative possibilities of using the internet and design software.
Mt. Iron-Buhl Collaborative Community Journalism Project support to improve digital literacy and technology skills by showcasing the school’s technology to teach community members and students to develop and produce various types of videos, social media, advertisements, posters and more.
Mt. Iron-Buhl City Services App Project support to develop an app for of the City of Mountain Iron to provide a wide variety of information to its residents.

EVENT Dec 13: Website Trends for 2020 in Minneapolis

I know it won’t be in everyone’s neighborhood, but for folks in the Twin Cities, it’s an interesting free event from Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

With the year winding down, MCN invites you to join the final Communications Networking Lunch of 2019. We’re happy to have Dan Moriarty of Electric Citizen join us at MCN’s offices on Friday, December 13 to talk about “Website Trends for 2020.”

THE WEB DOESN’T WAIT!

It just 8 years ago that the term “responsive design” was coined, and now it’s the expectation that every website is mobile-ready. Just last year that Google Chrome started tagging sites as “not secure” if they weren’t encrypted with HTTPS.

New tools and techniques for designing and managing your website continue to be released, and user expectations continue to evolve. But with so much “newness,” what should we be paying attention to?

We’ll spend our time covering some of the latest trends, and how they might apply to your website. Some are coming soon, while others are still far away. Some are already here!

Topics include:

    • Chatbots
    • Voice search
    • Decoupled websites
    • JAM Stack powered websites (JavaScript/APIs/Markup)
    • Online privacy, and privacy experience
    • AI and machine learning

Event Details (No RSVP necessary)
Friday, December 13 from 12 – 1 p.m.
Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
2314 University Ave. W., Suite 20, St. Paul
Learn more

As always, these networking gatherings are FREE and open to anyone interested in the topic, and no RSVP is necessary. Bring your questions, ideas, and lunch and join the conversation!

MN Broadband Task Force – new group meets for the first time (Dec 2019)

It almost feels like the first day of high school. Some folks know the ropes but there are a lot of (very smart and qualified) freshmen in the room. So there was a lot of introductions, rules of engagement (open meeting et al) and planning for the future. It was interesting to get to know the new folks. If I wanted a Reader’s Digest version of the meeting I’d read the intros directly below and then track to the bottom for their brainstormed goals. Or you can kickback and watch the meeting in its entirety.

Welcome from Steve Grove (Commissioner of DEED)

Thank you for helping us build a better Minnesota. A tribal nations leader will be joining the Task Force soon.

This is the third iteration since 2008. We advocate and set legislative recommendations. We are proud of the Minnesota Model. We have a Governor who is interested in growing the grant program. We see broadband as part of our innovation toolkit. It will help startups, telecommuting and growing small businesses. We spend $600 million on existing business; we can spend more on entrepreneurs. We are here to help where we can – but this work is for you lead. We are here to support. Let’s think of the broadband for the next 10-15 years in Minnesota.

Detailed introductions of members

Teddy (Tewodros) Bekele at Land O’Lakes – born on a farm in Ethiopia so wary of getting into agriculture but drawn to it with an engineering degree. We need better broadband to take advantage of precision agriculture. Also on the US Board of Precision Ag.

Steve Giorgi at RAMS – on local school board and helped movement to one-on-one computer/student. Lives in NE MN. Works on legislative issues. I hope that people will recognize the unique broadband needs in NE Minnesota. It’s $35,000 per mile to get fiber to us! So the $5million limit with the MN grants have been tough.

Theresa Sunde at MediaCom – we see on the frontlines that people want broadband – they will come out on the coldest MN days. ROI is tough for a business when the costs are so expensive. We need the grants to make a difference.

Nolan Cauthen with CenturyLink – With CenturyLink & Communication Workers of America. Union steward for 4 years. Try to bring the customer’s perspective.

Bernadine Joselyn with Blandin Foundation. MA in international security from Columbia. Blandin Foundation knows that the greatest community asset is people. I focus on systems and we realized that the broadband would let rural people raise their own voices, create their opportunities and thrive.

Micah Myers with GraNet. Worked at St Cloud, built fiber network in 1997. Have had greater success working with smaller providers. Works with Broadband Alliance. We have had success getting incumbents to upgrade. Just 8 years ago my internet was dialup. That wasn’t that long ago.

Paul Weirtz at AT&T. Worked at Ohio forever then made a career move to Minnesota. Everyone for the region is based in Minneapolis so that makes it easy to tap into industry experts, especially with wireless. There was a lack of knowledge in telecommunications in the legislature. The task force has helped change that and that will help smooth the path to legislative support for better broadband.

Steve Fenske at Minnesota Association of Townships Worked in court systems in Southern MN. Broadband is as important to the roads to us – it’s everything we do when we get home.

Dave Wolf at Gardonville Cooperative Telephone. Also runs a cooperative creamer. Humbling to being the next generation of technology to the communities. Brings 50 miles of fiber to the customers per year. We serve a large dairy – they need broadband to track deliveries. Carlos Creek Winery are customers. We also support aging in place. Has a winery.

Brian Krambeer at MI Energy -Southeastern MN – about 4 customers per mile. Broadband is a game changer in rural areas. We get calls for better broadband each day. NO one wants to live in the country without broadband.

James Weikum at Arrowhead Library System – 27 public libraries. We have patrons that need to travel 75 miles to get to a library. Many of our libraries connect via NESC. We do see kids hanging out near the library for after hours wifi access. Patrons come in for broadband because there are lots of things you can’t do without broadband. We have a bookmobile – 3 years ago 35 of 60 stops couldn’t get cell coverage (down to 1 now). I can’t move my town closer to rest of the world but with broadband I can move the rest of the world closer to us!

Marc Johnson at ECMECC – teacher by training and my senior year I took classes with folks who attended via Interactive TV. School is no longer happening only in the building. Students have devices they bring home. We need for them to be able to get online. It’s a gap that slows us all down.

Shannon Heim at Moss & Barnett, P.A. Has a deep expertise in regulatory understanding and compliance also works with a number of rural providers. Anyone who says there’s just one way to get broadband is probably selling something. Fun project was working with CenturyLink on US Bank Stadium. We can’t forget urban areas and affordability.

Overview of MN Government; Basics of the Legislature
Darielle Dannen; Govt. Relations Director, DEED

Works with the Governor. Likes to be in parallel with the Task Force but won’t necessarily agree on all points.

Budget Policy Process

Summer – Bonding, policy and supplemental budget proposals developed

Fall: Initial submission to Governor

Session starts Feb 11 – will be about 4 months.

Question – do we need to work on more funds now or wait until current mn grant budget is gone?
Well is $40 million enough to get the job done?
Or can OBD manage more than $20 million per year?

Are we too late to make policy recommendations?
Not necessarily – the Task Force is separate from DEED and the Gov.

Previously this group has had recommendations on funding and policy and has expressed opinions at the Legislature.
Legislatively, the group does need to produce a report.

We could look at the goals now – for example. We have notes from the previous Task Force.

Office of Broadband Development

Diane Wells – MA from TX in Public Affairs. Worked for the State for 33 years.

What is the Minnesota Model?

  • Statutory goals
  • Mapping
  • Office of Broadband Development and Task Force
  • Mapping

Connected Nation provides the mapping. There are 112 providers – some have nondisclosure agreements. Some large providers provide only 477 data (info they need to send to federal government). If anything the map overstates the access available. We do not have to-the-address access. FCC does it to the census level – which means if one household in a census tract has access, it colors everyone as having access. The OBD gets calls from residents and then they will go back to the relevant provider and have for greater vulnerability. (I want to emphasize this because even I get calls about this and I always suggest people call the OBD; they do an amazing job!)

On the grants

$20 million for 2019 and $20 million for 2020. Biggest award is $5 million. Need to have one-to-one match. Looking for geographic diversity.

Received 80 applications requesting $70 million in funding for budget of $20 million

About the Previous Task Forces

Met monthly. Started in on the report about October. Finalized/approved report at December meeting. Meetings during the year generally supported the report. The had time for public comments. They did some travel to rural areas and different locations.

Past recommendations include…

  • Fund grants – amount varied
  • Mapping – now an unfunded mandate; comes from 3% overhead in grant appropriations
  • Suggested Cyber Security Task Force
  • Supporting other task forces or commissions
  • Sales tax exemption for providers
  • Standardizing railroad crossings

We have recommended in the past that the OBD have a budget; this hasn’t happened yet. We need some funding to invest in efforts to support broadband use.

This is a consensus document; we’ve never had a minority report.

Goals for the Task Force

  • Teddy
  • Think of 2020 – should we make a short term recommendation for more money for broadband grants?
  • Wireline vs wireless – can we give an overview and a recommendation for best uses?
  • What’s the economic opportunities for broadband organized by sector? Can we get funds in base budget?
  • How can we get the private sector involved with funding? For example maybe Ecolab wants to move services online (via sensor) but that requires broadband for customers. Can we tap into that?
  • What are barriers to deployment?
  • Shannon
  • Review speed goals and perhaps update.
  • Evaluate rural broadband in all sectors and quality of life.
  • Adoption and accessibility – who is working on it?
  • Decide about getting into cyber security. How much time to invest?
  • Tweaks to broadband grant program.
  • Marc
  • Intentionally support partnerships and move them forward
  • Cyber security – in education we see that you need to get out front of it. At least understand unintended consequences
  • Talk to people who are struggling. Get out to rural areas.
  • Aid for libraries and schools – especially schools. Look at inequity of costs
  • Jim
  • Blandin and IRRR has been doing programs, including mapping. The data apparently looks different to what the state has. Access on the ground looks different that access on the maps
  • Brian
  • Sustainable funding.
  • Maintain the Minnesota model – people want to replicate us
  • Recommendation more money for grants
  • Trying to stay technology neutral
  • There are issues with right of ways and easements – we need clarification on 238.35
  • Dave
  • Figure out what the barriers are
  • Look at some successful programs with good take rates
  • Better mapping
  • Promote age in place
  • MICE – how can we tap into things like that?
  • Steve
  • Mapping – need better accuracy
  • Understand service delivery models – get timelines for new technologies
  • Does geographic diversity for grants matter if some grants are better than others
  • DO we need a different match to reach even harder to reach areas.
  • Challenge process – we have the data to see if it makes a difference
  • Paul
  • Look at funding from surplus
  • Look at base budget
  • Look at geographic diversity
  • Keep the MN Model going for the competitive edge
  • Talk about fixed wireless from the end user perspective
  • If we have 400+ gigabit cities – what can we do to create more?
  • Micah
  • Challenge obstacles
  • Educate the public
  • Educate the public on the need to get community investment
  • Bernadine
  • Provide a report that does make a persuasive case for continued investment
  • Tell the economic development story
  • Use the meetings and report to amplify the underserved
  • Revisit the state goals
  • Look at what other states are doing
  • Tell the public the results of past investment
  • Nolan
  • About maps – at least 2 areas of CenturyLink in TCs where people have very limited connectivity. It’s easier to build out where there were horse ranches, inner city has been infrastructure.
  • Educate – maybe not everyone needs the gig access they order and we are running out of bandwidth
  • Theresa
  • Goals need to change because technology changes
  • Get testimonials
  • Get unserved first
  • Steve
  • Examine the goals
  • Educate – especially with 5G in rural areas
  • We had legislators things satellite would be the solution – we need education
  • Increase base funding
  • There was more room for middle mile in the day – we need to think about redundancy too.

Handouts from the meeting:

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Sen Klobuchar and 47 Colleagues Urge FCC to Promote the Deployment of Sustainable Broadband Networks in Rural America

From Senator Klobuchar’s office

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD), and 46 of their colleagues urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to promote the deployment of sustainable broadband networks as the FCC considers adopting new rules in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) proceeding. The RDOF will award high-cost Universal Service Fund (USF) support to deploy broadband service in rural areas. In a letter, the senators called on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to ensure that broadband networks built in rural areas using these funds can keep up with future demands for speed and capacity and to hold support recipients accountable for providing adequate broadband service to consumers.

“If our rural communities are to survive and flourish, our rural constituents need access to services that are on par with those in urban areas. By contrast, it would be an inefficient use of resources to promote services that cannot keep pace with consumer demand and the evolution of broadband in urban areas,” the senators wrote.

“As the FCC moves forward to adopt new rules in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund proceeding, we urge you to promote the deployment of networks that will be sustainable even as new advancements are made and are capable of delivering the best level of broadband access for the available USF budget for many years to come.”

In addition to Klobuchar and Thune, the letter was signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Barrasso (R-WY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Braun (R-IN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Josh Hawley (R-MO), John Hoeven (R-ND), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Angus King (I-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Patty Murray (D-WA), David Perdue (R-GA), Gary Peters (D-MI), James Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Tillis (R-NC), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Todd Young (R-IN).

The full text of the letter can be found HERE