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.

Thinking about driverless cars? Don’t let your license lapse yet

I hate to drive. So I almost hate to share this passage from a recent post from Doug Dawson because I want driverless cars to happen so much – but not badly and it looks like driverless cars happening, especially in rural areas, soon would be bad…

A colleague sent me an article that had been published earlier this year in MachineDesign magazine that predicts that driverless cars can’t be realized until we have a ubiquitous 5G network. When looking for the original article on the web I noticed numerous similar articles like this one in Forbes that have the same opinion.

These articles and other similar articles predict that high-bandwidth, low-latency 5G networks are only a few years away. I’m not quite sure who these folks think will invest the $100 billion or more that would likely be required to build such a wireless network along all of the roads in the country. None of the cellular carriers have such grandiose plans, and if they did their stockholders would likely replace a management team that suggested such an investment.

Doug goes on to outline a number of practical reasons that 5G isn’t there and the investment isn’t likely; ending with…

Network engineers also would advise that for a critical task like driving at high speeds that every vehicle should have a redundant back-up connection, meaning a second wireless connection in case the first one has a problem. Anybody that puts critical tasks on a fiber network invests in such redundancy. Hospitals that use broadband as part of a surgical procedure or a factory that does precision manufacturing will have a second fiber connection to be safe. It’s hard to imagine a redundant connection for a moving car since the only place it can come from is the nearest cell sites that provide the primary connection.

I don’t know how other feel about this, but I’m not about to trust my life to a self-driving car that needs a connection to an external data center to be safe. I know too much about how broadband networks function to believe that 5G networks will somehow always make perfect connections when other fiber networks don’t.

UnitedHealth unveils telehealth app in employer-sponsored plans

Healthcare Drive reports on UnitedHealth’s (MN headquartered) new app…

  • The country’s largest private payer is rolling out a new virtual care app for the more than 27 million Americans covered in its employer-sponsored health plans.
  • The new UnitedHealthcare app gives users access to a practitioner via mobile device or computer. Beneficiaries can use it to schedule and conduct a virtual visit with a doctor. Physicians can diagnose a range of conditions during the visit and prescribe and send medications to local pharmacies for pickup.
  • The app will be free for the majority of people enrolled in the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based payer’s employer-sponsored plans, but consumers may have to pay additional out-of-pocket costs for telemedicine services depending on their plan and state requirements.


New study correlates lack of broadband to lack of health insurance

A Communicating for America press release reports…

Communicating for America (CA), a rural advocacy organization, has released a new study that correlates the lack of high-speed internet to the lack of health insurance coverage and access to health care. The survey, conducted in September 2019, asked nearly 500 individuals whether having the ability to connect to broadband internet in their local area affected the way they engage with the health care system.

Of those surveyed, 39% in urban and semi-urban areas said they had high-speed internet. The number dropped to 21% in rural areas. The study’s findings went on to show people without high-speed internet were significantly less likely to have health insurance (61% had coverage) compared to individuals that have broadband internet (88%). A similar disparity was shown in health care systems. Of those without broadband internet, only 5% have used low-cost telemedicine for medical treatment, whereas 22% of individuals with high-speed internet have used telemedicine in the past. In addition:

  • People without access to broadband internet are significantly less likely to use online medical records (29%) than people who have broadband internet (59%).
  • People without access to broadband internet are significantly less likely to schedule appointments online (17%) than people who do have broadband internet (36%).

I don’t know much about Communicating for America. They are based in Fergus Falls. Their mission is to promote health, well-being and the advancement of all self-employed Americans and small business owners by utilizing our acquired experience in serving rural Americans. You can find the full report online.

The report doesn’t specify what “broadband” is but 39 percent sub/urban access versus 21 percent indicate a high bar definition. (24 percent of MN has access to a Gig.)  And 500 participants isn’t a huge portion – but the results are interesting.

Closing Remarks for 2019 MN Broadband Conference #MNBroadband Conference

Thank you to everyone who made the 15th MN Broadband conference a success – that means the planners, presenters, sponsors, exhibitor, attendees and folks who participated online.

I think Bernadine’s recap is particularly good this year:

Links to all of the sessions:

Some pictures from that pretty amazing timeline – after I’ve had some sleep, I will try to do more with it.

Local Solutions for Globally Competitive Connectivity #MNBroadband Conference

As we wait, destined for disappointment, for the next infrastructure week with hopes of new federal money to expand broadband access, we should reflect on the solutions that have led to communities in the upper Midwest being some of the most connected rural regions on the planet. Not only is great Internet access possible in all of Minnesota, we are well on our way and have all the models we need to achieve border-to-border high-quality Internet access. The question is what local leaders can and will do in 2020 and beyond to take advantage of current opportunities.

Tech for Older Adults – Exciting Tools for Health and Social Engagement #MNBroadband Conference

For older adults, being socially isolated can have the same impact on health as smoking nearly a pack of cigarettes per day according to researchers. Learn how three community projects are using technology to help older adults stay connected—with interactive distance learning, virtual community education sessions, and a web-based resource for local events and services.

Notes: Tech for Older Adults–Exciting Tools for Health and Social Engagement.


Work to creativity engagement Older Adults through dance and theatre.

Interactive movements and workshops that can be done at home following the streaming process with Kairos Alive!

Leading Age in MN

–          Healthy aging Pilots that connect and promoteI local resources in Rural Communities.

–          Interactive video in different areas of the Moorhead area.

–          Rural Pilots : Silos to circles partners with communities to improve the experience of aging.

–          What is needed to live ad age well in the Chisago area. Information about activities, transportation.

Representing the Digitally Under-Represented in Economic Development #MNBroadband Conference

The New Vision Foundation works with disadvantaged youth in Minnesota with a program that combines tech training with internships and mentors to help develop skills and networking connections required in the work world. It’s a holistic approach that helps students and their families.