About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

Chisago Lakes Strut Your Stuff: manufacturing tours, new website, getting seniors connected

Today we met up with the Chisago Lakes BBC team. Like the other BBC communities, Chisago has been dealing with the COVID challenges of the last year. They have been focus on a few areas:

  • Getting older folks connected with computers and training (computers going out now)
  • Getting better broadband in the area, including a survey, push to get people to take the speed tests
  • Working with businesses – specifically doing video tours of manufacturing plants for students
  • Building a new website for the Chamber – to be unveiled very soon

All of the efforts are off the ground, a few are just about ready for prime time. I am particularly looking forward to some of the stories they have collected from folks who are happy and unhappy with their home broadband.

OPPORTUNITY: Community Economic and Workforce Development Grants from Just Transition Fund

An opportunity from Just Transition Fund for communities that are transitioning from coal. Minnesota communities are eligible and it looks like broadband projects might be a good fit…

The Just Transition Fund is on a mission to create economic opportunity for the frontline communities and workers hardest hit by the transition away from coal. Our goal is to build resilient communities by advancing economic solutions that are equitable, inclusive, and low-carbon. We provide both grants and technical assistance to frontline communities as we work to strengthen the capacity of the coal transition movement. Guided by a belief in the power of communities, we partner with innovative organizations that are working to create high road jobs, build local wealth, and improve conditions for those most affected by the changing coal economy.
We will award grants in 2021 through two funding cycles: Community Economic and Workforce Development (Cycle 1, May-July) and Policy & Planning (Cycle 2, September-November). We are currently accepting inquiries for Cycle 1. (Rapid response grants are also available on a rolling basis to grantees only. Please see our website for more information.)

Areas in MN without access to 100Mbps and NO apparent potential for federal funding

CNS has created an interactive map that highlights areas that do not have access to 100Mbps (download) and are not in areas that are eligible for federal funding. These are areas that are going to need to hustle to get broadband deployed. These are area that might be in a good position for state grants if/when they are available.

Here’s their press release…

In light of increasing discussions of additional funding for rural broadband, Cooperative Network Service (CNS) has recently created an interactive map to help stakeholders understand which areas of the country that currently do not have access to 100Mbps download speeds.

The map shows areas that (according to the most recently released 477 data) do not currently have 100Mb download speeds AND are not within areas where federal funding mechanisms are currently funding broadband deployment (ACAM I, ACAM II, CAF II Auction, RDOF, USDA ReConnect and Community Connect).

“The goal is to have a visual to use as a starting point (knowing it’s not perfect) for the industry and various stakeholder groups to use when considering rules for upcoming broadband funding programs,” said Paul Solsrud, CNS Product Manager. “We’re seeing many new funding mechanisms to support rural broadband upgrades as a result of the pandemic, at the Federal, State, and Local levels. “If we continue to use 25Mb as the speed threshold for determining which areas get funding, we may find ourselves with excess funding.”

Acting FCC Chair has long been a proponent of higher minimum speeds, saying “We need to set audacious goals if we want to do big things. With many of our nation’s providers offering gigabit service, it’s time for the FCC to adjust its baseline upward, too. We need to reset it to at least 100 megabits per second. While we’re at it we need to revisit our thinking about upload speeds. At present, our standard is 3 megabits per second. But this asymmetrical approach is dated,” in her August 19, 2020 statement regarding the findings of the 16th Broadband Deployment Report and Order. https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-20-112A1.pdf

Additionally, four Senators, in a March 4th, 2021 bipartisan letter, urge the Biden administration to invest in networks that provide symmetrical 100Mb speeds. https://www.bennet.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?id=2C769043-69ED-426B-B30A%5B1%5D57981A4BA333

Included for reference in the interactive map is a layer of areas that are currently unserved by 25Mbps. There are many considerations and variables in creating a map like this, and this does not consider state and local planned projects, and we all know that the available datasets have drawbacks, but the “Overview and Methodology” section in the map explains what’s included and what’s not. Further, layers comparing census blocks with 0 households are included to show unserved areas that did not have at least one housing unit in the 2010 census. Click here to access the map: https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/0dfe06e58ec04e6db9c73c767ca8132b

My annoyance is that because federal funding doesn’t always require 100Mbps, this map is hiding areas that are getting federal funding but are not actually in line for getting an upgrade that will make a difference for long.

St Paul could use COVID money for better broadband

MinnPost posts an idea from columnist Bill Lindeke…

In normal times, especially given the 2020 COVID budget crunch, cities would be hamstrung when it comes to doing anything about this problem. But these are not normal times. This month, cities across the country are getting a huge one-time influx of money, thanks to Joe Biden, congressional Democrats, and the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

In a city like St. Paul, it amounts to $187 million, and it’s targeted for COVID-related assistance and a list of infrastructure types that, critically, includes broadband.

How does St Paul Compare to Minneapolis?

St. Paul grants companies permission to provide internet access within the city every few years — the current franchisees are Comcast and Centurylink —  and that negotiation provides an opportunity to leverage benefits for people. For example, both of the current providers are supposed to provide a small income-based discount for people who qualify. (In practice, this can be a difficult application and is not always applicable.)

One of the key reasons that Minneapolis’ broadband network is so much better than St. Paul’s is that it has a decade-old partnership with US Internet (USI), a Minnetonka-based company. Years ago, the city teamed up to fund an admittedly spotty municipal wireless service network. But that partnership allowed USI to invest in fiber optic broadband throughout much of south Minneapolis. That in turn allowed the city’s fiber service to be both faster and more affordable than the larger national providers.

Ask around yourself. Pretty much without exception, any USI fiber customer gushes accolades about their broadband service, which reaches speeds of 300 megabits per second (at minimum). By far the biggest complaint about USI is that it’s not available everywhere. Moving from a Minneapolis neighborhood with USI fiber to a part of town without it amounts to losing a cherished pet, and I’m convinced there are people who decide where to live based on their fiber service availability.

Maybe St Paul could improve on the Minneapolis model…

Chris Mitchell would like St. Paul to use some of its ARP money to copy and improve this model, perhaps leasing a new network to the company. Or alternately, the city could build the fiber network itself, representing something of a moonshot for a municipality that only recently began organizing trash collection.

Either way, there are a lot of options for how to leverage the funding, and it could do wonders for digital equity in St. Paul’s poorest communities. Crucially, they could use COVID money to focus on the city’s poorest neighborhoods first.

EVENT May 11: Fiber Broadband Association: Fiber to the farmhouse – Strategies and methods for deploying rural fiber networks

Looks like an interesting event…

The Fiber Broadband Association invites you to join us for a webinar on Tuesday, May 11, at 3 PM EDT, with Mark Boxer, Technical Manager, Solutions and Applications Engineering, at OFS. The pandemic has laid bare what rural residents have known for a long time. Rural broadband in many places is lacking. However, help is on the way. Federal and state funding programs are providing much needed assistance for rural fiber builds, and there’s never been a better time for a rural fiber build than now. This webinar will discuss design and deployment for rural networks, reviewing strategies to take fiber to the farmhouse. We’ll review the tradeoffs for various parts of the network build, and discuss concepts that may challenge some pre-conceived notions of how to deploy networks. Panelist Bio: Mark Boxer is Technical Manager, Solutions and Applications Engineering, at OFS. In this role, he assists customers deploying fiber in a wide variety of network design scenarios around the world and analyzes trends in telecommunications markets that drive new product innovation. Mark has a BME degree from Georgia Tech, and has spent his 30+ year career in the fiber industry. His experience includes varied roles in manufacturing and applications engineering for fiber-based products and markets. Other activities include inventor of six US Patents, member and past Secretary of the IEEE Power Engineering Society Fiber Optic Working Group, contributing member to the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) (formerly FTTH Council) Technology Committee and Board of Directors member of the FBA and North Carolina Broadband Matters.

Register now!

eNews: MN Monthly Recap: Federal, state local funding for broadband

GigaZone Gaming CosPlay Co-Winner

Minnesota adoption rates by generation
Minnesota has one of the largest gaps in broadband adoption by age. Under 65, adoption rate in Minnesota is 76.6 percent; over 65 it’s 56.0 percent. That gap will impact telehealth adoption and policy decisions at the local level, especially when county commissioners and city council are over 65.

Land O’Lakes unveils American Connection Corps
Land O’Lakes created a new program for young leaders aimed at a boots-on-the-ground effort to boost local internet connectivity and the benefits it provides. The program, the American Connection Corps, will be led in conjunction with Lead for America (LFA) and funded through the support of Heartland Forward and 19 additional partner organizations. Applications are open now for a two-year, full-time paid fellowship.

Funding is greater but more confusing
The good news is that there is unprecedented funding focused or potentially focused on broadband from the federal level, and continued funding from the State. The bad news is that funding is becoming more complicated in terms of what they fund and how they make choices. There are some places to get more information. The Institute for Self Reliance has created a Community Guide to Current Broadband Funding. The National Association of Counties is keeping a list of American Rescue Plan Funds distributed in MN and by County (in MN).

Broadband maps are integral to funding
Current broadband maps indicate that there’s no broadband at Vikings Practice Facility. That’s why the FCC asks you to take their Speed Test and the Minnesota Broadband Coalition is asking you to take theirs. (A related topic, you can check out Digitunity’s map of computer ownership.)

Minnesota Women and Broadband
100 Rural Women hosted a conversation between Bernadine Joselyn, Director of Policy and Engagement at the Blandin Foundation and Tina May, Chief of Staff and Vice President at Land O’Lakes moderated by Benya Kraus from Lead for America.


State Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)

Federal Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)

Impact of COVID-19

Vendor News

Local Broadband News

Aitkin County
Increased access to telehealth is patient-centered care

Blandin Foundation helps Aitkin County expand and use broadband

Alexandria
Waiting for broadband in Alexandria MN

Barnum
Another reason for ubiquitous broadband: adherence to Open Meeting Laws

Bemidji
Hunter Branson Wins Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Tournament for 2nd time in a row at GigaZone Gaming Championship 5

Team YES wins Overwatch 6v6 Tournament at GigaZone Gaming Championship 5

Roselynn Jones from Cass Lake took 1st place in the online cosplay contest with her “High Inquisitor of the Scarlet Crusade” costume.

Smart Rural Community: Paul Bunyan Communications Video

Duluth
Comparing Duluth’s market-based broadband solution to Superior’s Municipal open access model

Doctor in Duluth asks policymakers to make COVID telehealth changes permanent

Ely
CTC brings FTTH to Ely MN

Broadband is happening around Ely with CTC, Midco and Treehouse Broadband expansions

Grand Rapids
Future leader in Autonomous Vehicles? Grand Rapids MN! (For more info, check out MN Report on Automated Vehicles that mentions 10 year investment in fiber.)

Kandiyohi County
Kandiyohi County is poising to use American Rescue Plan funding for broadband

Koochiching County
Koochiching joins MN Broadband Coalition

Le Sueur County
Le Sueur County Strut Your Stuff show great innovation to meet local access challenges

Nobles County
Libraries Without Borders US and Blandin are working to bring the library to patrons in rural MN

Northwest MN
The Health Variant gives an up close look at telehealth in NW MN

Otter Tail County
Otter Tail County Strut Your Stuff: zoom rooms, tech packs – getting people connecting during COVID

Rock County
Free internet coming to Jasper’s campground 

Southeast MN
Senator Klobuchar appreciates FTTH network in SE Minnesota built by Harmony and MiEnergy Coop

White Earth Reservation
White Earth Strut Your Stuff: plan in place, ready for action

Upcoming Events and Opportunities

Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman

Everyone is now certifiably bonkers for broadband.  Prior to the pandemic, the need for broadband everywhere was increasingly evident and many communities were working on solutions.  Even then, the “homework gap” was seen as an inconvenient symptom of a larger problem.  It was not a big enough problem to actually spur action, but an easy to understand hindrance that typically spurred policy makers to say “we have to do something about that…sometime.”  Through the pandemic, we’ve spent millions of emergency funding on cellular hot spots to connect kids and Internet Essentials-type subscriptions applying a very expensive and short-term band-aid to connectivity shortcomings.  That money is now spent and we are right back to square one.

Long term solutions for your community may emerge from the flood of money from the FCC RDOF program, the American Rescue Plan via the US Treasury,  MN DEED SCDG program, and possible MN DEED OBD appropriations and American Jobs Act. Each program has a unique set of rules, eligibility, non-duplication requirements, timeframes, etc.  As someone who has been around the confluence of broadband and economic development for twenty years, I can safely say that the broadband world has never been more confusing.  The community role in deploying these funds ranges from absolute control to zero. There is tremendous opportunity within this chaos.

Communities must rise to this opportunity in spite of all its challenges and be prepared to positively influence the broadband deployments from this funding blizzard.  Dedicate staff resources to obtain knowledge, build desirable partnerships and pursue your broadband vision.  Find and empower local broadband champions.  Gather market data, build your local and expert broadband team, select preferred partners and be ready for opportunities.  DEED’s SCDG program has a short 40-day application window and other emerging funding programs may be similar.  Be ready!

One sure way to be ready is build the capacity of your team by taking advantage of the archived webinars on the Blandin site.  Many past conference sessions are also available there.

Good luck!

White Earth Strut Your Stuff: plan in place, ready for action

Today we met up with the White Earth Reservation BBC team. White Earth has seen a lot of changes in the last year, which has made staffing difficult but we met with two stalwarts who have been holding tight while waiting for new folks to join.

They have an enthusiastic community, new staff is coming soon and they have plans in place for:

  • Hotspots
  • Hotspots Buses
  • TVs on buses
  • Computers for elders & families
  • Cell boosters for areas with limited broadband

EVENTS: May Lunch Bunch: State funding (May 12) & Digital Use (May 26)

Each month the Blandin Foundation hosts two conversation or lunch bunch sessions; on the second Wednesday of the month the focus is Infrastructure and on the fourth the focus is Digital Inclusion and Use. Here are the topics for May:

  • Join us on May 12 for our lunch bunch update from Minnesota Broadband Coalition on what’s happening with the Minnesota Legislature.  Join us ready to contribute!
    Register here 
  • Join us May 26 for our lunch bunch on Digital Use and adoption. The specific are still in the cooker, but we’re working on something related to get help to lead a community broadband strategy. Register here.

 

Doug Dawson asks FCC to track aspiration and actual broadband speeds

Doug Dawson has a great idea that would change how we look at broadband maps. In short, ask the ISPs to provide the range of speeds a customer can expect rather than report the best that anyone is going to see. He writes…

 An ISP that may be delivering 3 Mbps download will continue to be able to report broadband speeds of 25/3 Mbps as long as that is marketed to the public. This practice of allowing marketing speeds that are far faster than actual speeds has resulted in a massive overstatement of broadband availability. This is the number one reason why the FCC badly undercounts the number of homes that can’t get broadband. The FCC literally encourages ISPs to overstate the broadband product being delivered.

In my Twitter feed for this blog, Deb posted a brilliant suggestion, “ISPs need to identify the floor instead of the potential ceiling. Instead of ‘up to’ speeds, how about we say ‘at least’”.

There are reasons that different customers get different speeds…

It’s a real challenge for an ISPs using any of these technologies to pick a representative speed to advertise to customers – but customers want to know a speed number. DSL may be able to deliver 25/3 Mbps for a home that’s within a quarter-mile of a rural DSLAM. But a customer eight miles away might be lucky to see 1 Mbps. A WISP might be able to deliver 100 Mbps download speeds within the first mile from a tower, but the WISP might be willing to sell to a home that’s 10 miles away and deliver 3 Mbps for the same price. The same is true for the fixed cellular data plans recently being pushed by A&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. Customers who live close to a cell tower might see 50 Mbps broadband, but customers further away are going to see a tiny fraction of that number.

We need a way to track both ends, the best and worst case scenario…

I suggest they report both the minimum “at least” speed and the maximum “up to” speed. Those two numbers will tell the right story to the public because together they provide the range of speeds being delivered in a given Census. With the FCC’s new portal for customer input, the public could weigh in on the “at least” speeds. If a customer is receiving speeds slower than the “at least” speeds, then, after investigation, the ISP would be required to lower that number in its reporting.

This dual reporting will also allow quality ISPs to distinguish themselves from ISPs that cut corners. If a WISP only sells service to customers within 5 or 6 miles of a transmitter, then the difference between its “at least” speeds and its “up to” speeds would be small. But if another WISP is willing to sell a crappy broadband product a dozen miles from the transmitter, there would be a big difference between its two numbers. If this is reported honestly, the public will be able to distinguish between these two WISPs.

This dual reporting of speeds would also highlight the great technologies – a fiber network is going to have a gigabit “at least” and “up to” speed.

Increased access to telehealth is patient-centered care in Aitkin County MN

Aitkin Age posts a letter from a reader (and healthcare worker) about extending rules that support and promote continued telehealth…

The arrival of COVID-19 in Minnesota in early 2020 presented a series of challenges for Minnesota’s hospitals, health systems and the communities we serve.

Our health care providers at Riverwood Healthcare Center were confronted with preparing for and responding to COVID-19 while also providing non-COVID-19 care. Our patients were faced with making decisions about accessing care – including whether care capacity was available and whether they felt safe seeking care.

Expanding the use of telehealth was a way for providers to see patients and preserve personal protective equipment and a way for patients to access care but feel safe from exposure to COVID-19. Its use in Minnesota grew significantly during the pandemic. Now we have the opportunity to increase access to telehealth for Minnesotans and make permanent some of the temporary advances that occurred during COVID-19 through bipartisan legislation, Senate File 1160 and House File 1412. The bills are sponsored by Republican Sen. Julie Rosen and DFL Rep. Kelly Morrison, one of two physicians in the Legislature.

While previous law required patients to go to a health care provider site to access telehealth, this bill would continue to allow providers to deliver telehealth services directly to a patient’s home setting via audio-only telephone calls, or via secure two-way audio-video services on a tablet or computer. The legislation would allow scheduled visits to be conducted by telephone when a patient does not have access to internet or the appropriate electronic device at their location. These care delivery practices are currently in effect due to COVID-19.

Increased access to telehealth is patient-centered care. Allowing patients to access telehealth from their own home setting without the need to travel removes a barrier to getting needed health care and enhances equity within our statewide system of care.

At Riverwood, we have seen the positive results of increased adoption of virtual visits. We serve a rural community where patients often need to drive significant distances of 20 to 30 miles or more to get care in person at one of our clinics. A virtual video visit for more routine care like discussing medications and how they’re working is a huge benefit when the patient can do this from home.

The pandemic accelerated the adoption and practice of telehealth in all aspects of care delivery, which has reduced barriers to health care access and made a difference for our patients and communities across the state. Please join me in contacting our local legislators so we can keep this expanded access to telehealth in our community.

Timothy Arnold, MD, Riverwood Healthcare Center

Waiting for broadband in Alexandria MN

Alexandria Echo Press posts a letter to the editor…

Last year our neighborhood was excited to receive notice that Runestone Telecom would be installing high speed internet cable with access to our homes, thanks to the state Border-Border Grant Program. One year later we’re still waiting for that high speed internet access.

A news report in the April 9 Echo Press gives the statewide goal for internet access speed of 25 megabits per second downloading and 3 mbps uploading by the year 2022. Our home internet speed test is 0.89 mbps downloading and 0.19 mbps uploading, making basic internet access frustrating. I can imagine how impossible it would be to work from home or to do online schooling.

The author bring up the history of the grant funding…

The Echo Press also reported that Gov. Walz is proposing to budget $50 million for the state Border-to-Border Program for 2021. In 2016 Gov. Dayton proposed $100 million for the newly created state program. Republican legislators, who claim to represent rural interests, cut the grant to $28 million.

Another reason for ubiquitous broadband: adherence to Open Meeting Laws

The Pine Journal reports

The Barnum School Board was recently found to be in violation of the Minnesota Open Meeting Law under a chapter of the state statute, which does not allow for public bodies to hold in-person meetings while limiting public attendance to electronic monitoring.

This finding, as cited in an April 19 opinion by Minnesota Department of Administration Commissioner Alice Roberts-Davis, has led to new guidance issued by the Minnesota School Board Association regarding meetings during a pandemic.

The new guidance states that school board meetings should either be held in person — without restrictions on public attendance — or held completely virtually.

If everyone had equal access to broadband this would be less of an issue…

Krampf explained that the public has not had equal access to all meetings during the pandemic, citing the lack of broadband internet available in Carlton County.

Last week, the Minnesota Department of Administration issued an advisory opinion to the district, citing violations of the open meeting law by the board on Sept. 22, 2020, Nov. 24, 2020, Jan. 5, 2021, and Jan. 26, 2021.

“The School Board did not comply with the OML when a quorum of the public body held in-person meetings … while the public was limited to remote attendance,” the opinion read.

According to Superintendent Mike McNulty, the decision to livestream meetings was made out of concern for public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. He explained that the board room is a small space and does not allow for large groups of people to remain socially distanced.

FCC reports: Emergency Broadband Benefit Program start date is May 12

The FCC reports that the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program start date is May 12, 2021 and shares a link to the Emergency Broadband Benefit program website

Today, FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced the start date of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. As of May 12, 2021, eligible households will be able to enroll in the Program to receive a monthly discount off the cost of broadband service from an approved provider.  Eligible households can enroll through an approved provider or by visiting https://getemergencybroadband.org.

 

Between now and the start date, the FCC encourages partners and participating providers to conduct outreach efforts so that every eligible household knows about the program and how to sign up. The Commission will be providing a variety of materials for partners to use in their efforts to increase awareness about the program. During this time, the FCC and its program administrator, USAC, will continue to ensure that appropriate privacy and security safeguards are in place. The FCC also urges providers to continue to test their own systems for the program launch.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will provide eligible households with discounts of up to $50 a month for broadband service, and up to $75 a month if the household is on Tribal lands.  It also will provide a one-time discount of up to $100 on a computer or tablet for eligible households.

Under the law, the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program is open to households that participate in an existing low-income or pandemic relief program offered by a broadband provider; Lifeline subscribers, including those that are on Medicaid or accept SNAP benefits; households with kids receiving free and reduced-price lunch or school breakfast; Pell grant recipients; and those who have lost jobs and seen their income reduced in the last year.

For more information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, please visit: https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit

Future leader in Autonomous Vehicles? Grand Rapids MN!

Grand Rapids in on the cusp of being the first cold weather, rural community to deploy autonomous vehicles (AV) – maybe in the world! That’s pretty exciting but I feel like I’m burying the lead because there are so many good things included in this pilot project. Their focus is on access, especially for folks who cannot get driver’s licenses and becoming a hub for autonomous vehicles, starting with getting kids interested in trained in the schools.

I spoke with Myrna Peterson about the project. Originally from Iowa, Myrna moved to the area many years ago; she is a former teacher. She has been in a wheelchair since a serious car accident in the 1990s. She has unique experience understanding the need for accessibility and understanding the need (and how!) to get kids involved in educational opportunities that will lead to jobs. But of course she’s not doing the work alone. There are a host of project partners, including the Blandin Foundation, Mobility Mania, several economic development leaders, research and academic partners and private sector partners, such as May Mobility, the AV experts.

The plan is to create a 12-mile route to local hotspots, such as the grocery store, church, schools and communal living settings. The AV goes about 25 mph, so the path will stick to slower roads. (So smart to avoid annoying other vehicles driving on 169!) Broadband plays a role both in helping the AV’s with offloading (a lot) of data and connecting that data to the back office. It also allows riders to connect to the AV app to make reservations and otherwise communicate. The AV collects data in the environment and uses Multi-Policy Decision-Making system to as a brain to drive. (Learn more on the May Mobility site.)

The need for AV to collect data has opened a door to looking other use of sensors and spurred discussions with Smart North. Now the community is looking at smart street lights and tech hubs. The community is also making sure that the AV experience meets the needs of all riders, which means wheel-chair accessible, accommodating visual and hearing impairments and more. They are looking to not only be ADA compliant but to be comfort-forward and welcoming for everyone, which is how you get people to use the AV. There will be an attendant on the AV to make sure everything is going smoothly.

But as I mentioned, this goes beyond a ride. They are working with the schools to create programming and opportunities for students to learn more about AV, starting with a STEM camp this summer. They are working with the K12 schools, local colleges and are working to create apprenticeships. They are also planning to leverage the shuttle project to showcase the region’s innovative mobility program through Smart Rural Mobility seminars where the Grand Rapids community members will have an information sharing forum, and they will be empowered to share their mobility stories with other government leaders and technology companies.  So, not only will Grand Rapids be the first cold weather, rural AV community but the people in and from the area will be leading experts. It’s an opportunity for a whole new industry cluster.

EVENT May 5: Dakota Broadband Board Technical Advisory Committee Meeting

Dakota County has been working on building broadband through partnerships for a long time. So even if you’re not in Dakota County, you might learn something lurking at some meetings.

They have one May 5, 2021 from 8:30-10:30am. One topic that may be of interest: Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Initiative. You can get the full agenda online.