2008 Blandin Broadband Conference: Breakout Session One

We had 3 options for the first breakout session. I have included links to presentations when I had them:

Financing Options for Municipality Networks
Milda Hedblom, Dain International & HBC, Inc.
Brenda Krueger, Springsted

Community Broadband Resources
Bill Coleman, Community Technology Advisors
Pam Lehman, Lac qui Parle ED
Heidi Peper, SHE

Health Care Applications
Peter Walsh, Home and Community Options
Jessica Martensen, Lakewood Healthcare
Michael Hawton, MN Health

2008 Minnesota Community Broadband Awards

Last night the Blandin Foundation award six communities and business with the Minnesota Community Broadband Awards. It was a really nice ceremony. The honorees each received beautiful awards created by a local artist (Craig Campbell) and $2,000 towards a technology project.

Here are the winners:

Broadband infrastructure and services for communities under 2,500 … the winner is Federated Telephone Cooperative of Chokio. General Manager Kevin Beyer accepted the award.

Broadband infrastructure and services for communities between 2,500 and 10,000 .. the winner is Sjoberg’s Inc of Their River Falls. Dick Sjoberg accepted the award.

Broadband infrastructure and services for communities above 10,000 … the winner is Hiawatha Broadband Communications of Winona. Gary Evans accepted the award.

Broadband market and application development communities under 2,500 – … the winner is Menahga Area Historical Society& Museum. Linda Karjala accepted the award.

Broadband market and application development communities between 2,500 and 10,000 . .. the winner is New Ulm Economic Development Cooperation. Brian Tohal accepted the award.

Broadband market and application development communities above 10,000 . .. the winner is Home and Community Options of Winona. Peter Walsh accepted the award.

We were lucky enough to get brief interviews with each winner. Bill Coleman is seen talking with each:

Continue reading

Home and Community Options, Inc.

Light Speed Grant Recipient

Peter Walsh, Project Coordinator

Project Update

August 12, 2008

 

We met a major milestone in our development of a remote monitoring system last week when we gathered some staff and supporters together to view a demonstration of our remote monitoring system.  We have completed our installation phase and are now moving into the testing phase.  We intend to run a parallel test for several months to document the dependability and reliability of the system.  Let me share a few of the details of this system and why we are so excited about it.

 

First of all we have a residential program that consists of four adult men and their staff.  The men and their interdisciplinary team worked with our remote monitoring team to develop the conditions under which everyone could agree that the men would be safe and appropriately supervised during the evening hours using remote monitoring.  These conditions are all delineated in a document called an “Informed Consent”.  The Informed Consent will be a fundamental document in our request for a variance from the Minnesota Department of Human Services to use our remote monitoring program in an adult foster care setting.  The details of the Informed Consent document are too lengthy to share here but some of the key technology requirements are:  remote video supervision of all public spaces, remote two-way audio communication in all public and private spaces, all first floor doors and windows alarmed; smoke and fire alarms, a security system linking all alarms and devices to the remote monitoring sight, and finally, a call escalation program that guarantees a physical presence in the home in the case of crisis. 

 

We have created a portable remote monitoring station that links to all the monitoring devices in the home.  This portable unit can be run from any of our other program sites linked to our network.  It is our intention to use an existing overnight staff to provide the remote supervision, thus saving the cost of one overnight staff.  The design of the remote monitoring system allows the supervising overnight staff to sleep.  When an incident occurs at the home the remote monitoring station requires a response from the night attendant.  We have built in a couple of ways of waking the staff but if he/she is unable to respond for some reason the system will alert an on-call staff to go to the house.  This is part of our call escalation program that can be set up to call a list of staff that could respond to the home.  One of the features of the system is that once the program moves into the call escalation process it can only be resolved by someone physically being at the home.  An emergency call to 911 is automatically made if no one arrives at the home before the “fail-safe” time elapses.  The system has a number of built in redundancies and backups to ensure its dependability and reliability in case of power outages, phone disruptions, loss of internet and so forth.  There are also a number of conditions that need to be met every day in order for the remote system to be used.

 

It has taken us almost two years of development after a year of design to bring this system to the testing phase so yes, we were excited to gather and watch the remote video, engage in a two-way audio conversation with the folk at the home, monitor doors being opened and closed and to have the automated phone system kick in and make the calls from the call list.

 

We have set up the remote monitoring station in one of other program sites and are in the process of training the night attendant staff how to use it to supervise the home remotely.  While we are testing the system the regular overnight staff will continue staying at the test site but they will not engage with the men unless the remote system requests them to or if the remote system fails.  We will be running a number of test scenarios and documenting the results.  We are confident that we will need to make some fine tuning adjustments but excited to see the system go through its paces.  In a few weeks we intend to invite some interested colleagues to come for a show and tell session.  That will be another exiting milestone that I look forward to sharing with you.

 

 

 

 

light speed communityThe Blandin Foundation is supporting four standout broadband programs through the Light Speed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. This post comes from a Light Speed community leader.

Home and Community Options, Inc.

Light Speed Grant Recipient

Peter Walsh, Project Coordinator

Project Update

June 24, 2008

 

 

 

 

As I came out of our Technology Committee meeting last week I was struck by the excitement and personal investment of the committee members in our discussion of our goals for the year and the progress we have made.  Every year in late fall we undertake a strategic planning exercise in which we review our technology related strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  The committee members talk to their colleagues about technology issues; seeking needs, frustrations, concerns and good ideas.  We start by having a general open discussion about our technology use and move to developing an open ended, no holds barred “wish we could…..” list.  Then we group the topics into clusters of similar or related headings and eliminate the obvious wild, impossible and impractical ideas.  We break into groups; our total committee is about 20 folk so we will have four groups of five to discuss the topics and to rank the top three in each cluster – identifying the pros and cons of their top choices.  The groups report back and we have a general open debate of speaking for or against topics on the list.  And, finally we rank our personal choices using a nominal group process.  The method of ranking varies from year to year but I personally like the one where we are each given ten stickers which we can place next to the topic of our choice – with no limit as to how many stickers you can put on any one topic.  The top ten are then organized, some fit together, and others stand alone.  Then we identify the resources needed, indicators of success, responsible parties, and approvals needed and so forth.  The entire process generally takes about four hours.

 

As we were reviewing our progress on this year’s goals and we realized the gains we have made there was a general excitement in the room.  Our discussion became more detailed when we reviewed our eFile program goals. This project is also part of our Blandin Light Speed grant and we have far exceeded our initial objectives.  The eFile participants were excitedly reflecting on the tremendous gains they have made this year.  We had hoped to have eFile implemented in three programs by the end of the year and we already have six programs using it.  There was a general agreement that the support of the Blandin grant enabled us to work on several pieces of the puzzle at once creating a synergy in that solutions in one piece turned out to benefit other pieces.  As we added a second and third test site and new staff began to grapple with some of the limitations of the beta program we began to discover solutions at a faster pace.  We reached a state of having attained the “critical mass” of minds working on the same problems.  All of a sudden the solutions were coming faster and faster.  The methodology was standardized and everything began to fit together.  New insights were gained as staff were trained, began using the program and saw additional ways that it could be used within their program.  Another interesting outcome is that staff from the individual programs began to meet for what they called “Show and Tell” sessions.  These were opportunities to show off new tools and techniques and to ask questions of each other.  These sessions really stimulated the problem solving and facilitated program standardization. The eFile coordinator reported an impressive list of functionality that is now being handled electronically in a standardized uniform manner: Client Calendaring, Client Programming, Program Documentation, Medication Administration, Client Progress Notes, Staff Scheduling, Staff Notes, Cleaning Lists, and even Menus. The task list for starting eFile in a new program has even been delineated; this is a check list that notes the steps that the program needs to complete to demonstrate that it is ready and qualified to implement the eFile program.  This check list came about as the first couple of implementation attempts did not work out because the program staff were not sufficiently trained and the program was dealing with other administrative issues at the time. 

The entire eFile Program development and implementation is a tremendous example of problem solving from the bottom up.  Those who have the need and use the system are the ones who created the solution, are vested in its success and excited to share it with others.  Management does not have a problem trying to convince other programs to try eFile because staff sell the idea to each other.  Now there is the problem of programs that don’t have eFile getting impatient because the have to wait their turn.  It will be very interesting to see where we what we have accomplished at the end of the year.

light speed communityThe Blandin Foundation is supporting four standout broadband programs through the Light Speed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. This post comes from a Light Speed community leader.

 

 

IP VCR url

For anyone who would like to view some of the meetings we have recorded on our IP VCR please go to the following url:

http://156.98.62.56

Click on the pull down menu and select the speed, I would suggest 128kbps in either quicktime or WMV.

have fun,

Pete

light speed communityThe Blandin Foundation is supporting four standout broadband programs through the Light Speed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. This post comes from a Light Speed community leader.

Home and Community Options, Inc

Blandin Light Speed Grant

Six Month Progress Report

Peter Walsh, Project Coordinator

April 22, 2008

 

 

We have just completed the first six months of our Light Speed Project and it is exciting to provide an update on the progress we have made toward our goals.

 

All in all we have made good strides in either completing or moving forward on our goal related activities.  Perhaps the biggest disappointment has been the slow progress of HBCI making the FTTH connections.  We hope that with warmer weather their technicians will be better able to complete this task.  HBCI has indicated that they will be starting to lay underground cable now that the ground is frost free and they assure us that once they get started installations will flow steadily.

 

We are very pleased with the response of our staff and their desire for additional training.  We are excited to see the ease in which our E-File system is being deployed and we have programs clamoring to be next on our installation list.  Fortunately, that decision is made by the agency Directors and they select programs on the basis of need and readiness.

 

Our remote monitoring venture is unfolding very nicely.  We have a model home in the midst of implementation with a variety of security devices working and progress being made every day.  We have most of the call escalation program completed and are designing the user interface screens.  We are testing the phone interface and find that it works well.  I am sure we will find more things that we need to adjust as we start playing out some scenarios.  

 

We are meeting monthly with a local group made up of providers of care to the elderly who are seeking ways to improve the delivery of service to seniors within the Winona community.  They are excited about our participation and we hope to find some opportunities to implement some of our remote monitoring solutions within their care population. 

 

We are grateful to the Blandin Foundation for this opportunity to implement our broadband applications.

 

light speed communityThe Blandin Foundation is supporting four standout broadband programs through the Light Speed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. This post comes from a Light Speed community leader.

Home and Community Options, Inc.

Light Speed Grant Recipient

Peter Walsh, Project Coordinator

Project Update

April 9, 2008

 

Small steps but progress continues!!  We have another facility connected with FTTH!!  Now we can begin experimenting with some of our broadband applications.  Videoconferencing and “Thin Client” connectivity will be our first two projects and we hope to get started on those very soon.

 

Our Remote Monitoring efforts are gradually coming together.  We have two IP cameras set up with two-way audio.  This week we will be training the staff at the facility in the use of the cameras.  We will also continue testing the IP Intercom; we ran into some complications last week as it doesn’t seem to like our router.  Need to tweak it a bit.  We will also be arming the wireless window and door alarms this week and testing the remote configuration and monitoring of the security system.  The manufacturer is changing some of the interface code and we decided to wait until the new version comes out before we write our program that will integrate the security system with our Remote Monitoring program.

 

We are now on our third set of Outlook and Excel classes.  We are excited about the impact this is going to have on overall agency productivity.  We have become very dependent upon email of course and have been using that for internal and external communication for several years but the use of the Outlook Calendar and Tasks were just not evolving the way we had expected.  Now, with everyone taking the classes, we will expect everyone to use the Outlook Calendar and scheduling meetings will be much simpler.  We also clustered our Resources (conference rooms, projectors, etc.) as a separate Exchange group so staff can more easily reserve them.  This really makes managing our resources much easier.

 

Our e-File program is being implemented at a nice pace.  We now have five programs either completely running or in the final implementation stages of running our electronic file system for our Residential Programs.  This is an integration of Outlook, Excel and Word to provide a paperless record keeping system.  This e-File program was developed internally by our staff so it really fits our needs.  Now that our lead staff have seen its effectiveness they are all clamoring to be next in line for installation.  A nice problem to have!

 

We have lots of things happening on different fronts and that keeps me busy, but what fun to be able to integrate these applications on a fiber backbone!

light speed communityThe Blandin Foundation is supporting four standout broadband programs through the Light Speed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. This post comes from a Light Speed community leader.
 

April eNews is on the Streets

We posted the April eNews yesterday. I wanted to share the parts of the eNews that aren’t on the blog already with the blgo readers…

Community News

Alexandria
All State Wireless a subsidiary of All State Satellite Depot Inc. opened a new Sprint store March 1 in Alexandria.

Crookston
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie visited Crookston, mentioning the possibility of allowing absentee votes via the Internet. It was a suggestion that Governor Pawlenty voted down last year, but will probably resurface. (http://tinyurl.com/3y4g34)

Eagan
Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire, reflecting on the last year, mentions efforts to bring broadband to the community. “Broadband is as vital to our wellbeing as good roads, electrical power and safe water,” he said. (http://tinyurl.com/324pch)  

Iron Range
The Iron Range Network Joint Powers Board is committed to a high speed network but they are at a crossroads and are considering their options for building and deploying the network. (http://tinyurl.com/2pdefq)  

Isanti
A conference for parents entitled, Youngsters and the Internet, draws 150 attendees in Isanti. Parents learn how to teach their children about the Internet and how to keep safe online. (http://tinyurl.com/2lr3bv)  

Marshall
Insight School of Minnesota, an online high school will open next fall. The school expects 200 students. Insight School opened in Washington in 2006 and has been popular and well regarded. (http://tinyurl.com/2jckuc)  

Minneapolis
Minneapolis Wireless network is set to be completed by the end of March, 2008. (http://tinyurl.com/27x5vz)  

Monticello
A columnist for the Monticello Times provides a rave review of YouTube and its religious brother God Tube. (http://tinyurl.com/3csclj)  

Red Wing
Senator Amy Klobuchar visited in March to discuss broadband in Red Wing, among other things. (http://tinyurl.com/394kqy)

Sebeka
CrossUSA recruits technology workers to rural areas to remotely manage networks and mainframes in such a way that keeps the jobs in the country rather than offshore. (http://tinyurl.com/39v2d5)  

St Cloud
St. Cloud Recreation Department will no longer be printing catalogs; program information will now be posted online only. Community members have concerns but the impact will be closely monitored. (http://tinyurl.com/2mzy7d)  

Thief River Falls
Police offer the old mantra – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is – as sage advice on the Internet. (http://tinyurl.com/2uj4tb)  

Todd County
Todd County started an FTTP program with a meeting with committee members, key stakeholders and Bill Coleman representing Blandin Foundation. They discussed the need for the community to invest in telecommunications to get the network they want and need for their future.

Twin Cities
The Twin Cities are beefing up their communications networks to support the GOP National Convention this September. Verizon Wireless expects a 150 percent rise in data transmissions on its broadband network. Qwest Communications International will add more than 100 miles of fiber-optic and copper lines in and around the Xcel Energy Center. (http://tinyurl.com/2uc2hx)  

Waseca
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Waseca County Sheriff’s Office are working out a new system that will allow residents to activate burning permits online. Online permits will be $5 but can be reactivated throughout the year. (http://tinyurl.com/2my9aj)  

Winona
Home and Community Options Inc is in the midst of wiring one of their residences. Once it is installed, the home will not need night staff on premises; it will be monitored remotely. (http://tinyurl.com/2pm8y5)  

Bill Coleman

Coleman’s Corner

Blandin Foundation’s broadband programs enable me to work with many communities throughout the state. My work this week was especially interesting. On one day, I met with leaders in a community that is just embarking on the journey to better understanding of their telecommunications services. They are asking the right questions – “What do we have? …What do we need? …. How do we get there?

Through the Community Broadband Resources program (http://www.blandinfoundation.com/html/public_bb_cbr.cfm), I will be helping them understand the current offerings from incumbent providers and the telecom needs of their business community and residents. While I work on getting information from the providers, the community leaders will be out visiting with the businesses. We will be able to pull this information together, have some informed meetings with the providers then talk about next steps.

The following day, I was able to participate in a consultant selection process for a community FTTP feasibility study. This community has been working for some time to get to this point. They have talked extensively with their incumbent providers and potential competitive providers. They have worked through the Blandin Foundation Get Broadband program (http://www.blandinfoundation.org/bsite/bbsite.html) to inform community members and businesses about the importance of broadband for economic development and quality of life. They have their local governments, school district and municipal utilities working together to identify future needs for bandwidth and technology applications. This community is seeking the definitive information necessary to make informed decisions about their next steps.

Each community is unique and has their own set of decision making factors and priorities. What is not unique is the need to bring community leaders together around the issue of broadband and technology. It is clear that communities that work aggressively on both sides of the equation – ensuring high quality services and building demand and technology sophistication – will emerge on the positive side of the digital divide and new economy. Community Broadband Resources (CBR) is designed to provide communities with the assistance they need when they need it. Go online to the Blandin website (www.blandinfoundation.org), find out the details and apply for the type of assistance that would move your community forward. While making progress is sometimes hard, the CBR online application process is quick and simple! I look forward to working with you!

HCO Project Update

Home and Community Options, Inc.

Light Speed Grant Recipient

Project Update March 21, 2008

Peter Walsh, Project Coordinator

We have had an exciting couple of weeks as we have been wiring one of our residences with a plethora electronic security and remote monitoring devices.  The men at the residence are really excited and look forward to the day when they will not need a night staff on the premise.  This is really a big deal for them as it impacts directly on their sense of self and independence. 

We will be in the testing phase for some time as we work out the bugs and develop our intervention protocols.  Surprisingly one of the biggest challenges has been full duplex IP audio.  There are not very many options to provide at-the-moment dialog.  For example to get a response to the query “Are you alright?” in places where an IP camera is not allowed such as bedrooms and bathrooms.  We have located a solution and will begin testing it this week.

 

Our employee training is starting to catch on.  The word is out that the classes are very beneficial and we now have waiting lists for the next round of classes that start this week.  So we may decide to offer a couple more sessions to accommodate the increased interest.  I think one of the responses from one of our former foot draggers speaks volumes:  “You know that if we are really going be able to take advantage of this system everyone is going to have to be up to speed.”  We may be approaching the downhill slope and all because of our Light Speed Grant!!  Thank you Blandin!

light speed communityThe Blandin Foundation is supporting four standout broadband programs through the Light Speed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. This post comes from a Light Speed community leader.

Broadband News Around Minnesota

Earlier today we published the Blandin Broadband eNews. Many of the stories are quick summaries of blog posts from the last month. We also compile new regarding broadband and community use of the Internet from Get Broadband communities and local newspapers around Minnesota.

I thought I’d post the news from MN in the blog too:

Bemidji
In May, Governor Pawlenty signed a law that requires all school districts to address intimidation and bullying in all forms, including electronic forms and forms involving the Internet; the Bemidji School Board is considering changes now. (http://tinyurl.com/2u7u5y)

Faribault & Marin Counties
Suspected vandals were arrested in Faribault for causing more than $100,000 in damage to telecommunications sites and equipment owned by five local companies. (http://tinyurl.com/yueveh)

Iron Range
The Iron Range’s FiberNet project has halved their estimated startup costs for developing a fiber network. Meetings will be happening throughout the month to promote communities’ support of the project. (http://tinyurl.com/2742uu)

Kandiyohi
Kandiyohi is offering a series of classes to teach basic skills ranging from email and Internet browsing for individuals to online marketing for small-business. For those who participate, grants will be available to help underwrite 50 percent of the cost of creating or upgrading business web sites. (http://tinyurl.com/23orvk)

Monticello
Monticello is moving forward with a city-wide fiber optic network. The fiber network will be financed with revenue bonds, not a tax levy. The cost for the entire project is estimated at $20 to $25 million and completion of the fiber network will take approximately 18 months. (http://tinyurl.com/yuo2b7)

Owatonna
David Warlick of the Landmark Project (http://landmark-project.com) visited with Owatonna educators to talk about teaching information literacy to students to prepare them for their information-rich future. (http://tinyurl.com/39hm2m)

Rochester
The Mayo Clinic and IBM are building a Medical Imaging Informatics Innovation Center (MI3C) in Rochester Minnesota. (http://tinyurl.com/229h67)

Rushford
Since the flood in August, Rushford has been scrambling with other projects but Yaggy, Colby Associates are helping them move forward with broadband. Rushford will use a blog to inform the public about the planning process. They continue to work on website development for area businesses and organizations and will be marketing the opportunity through the internet and other media outlets.

Thief River Falls
Thief River Falls Times reminds readers that, “Congress has mandated that Feb. 17, 2009, will be the last day for full-power TV stations to broadcast in both analog and digital. After that date, those TV stations will only broadcast in digital. The switchover affects TVs that receive free over-the-air programming (those that are used with rooftop antennas or with “rabbit ears” connected to the TV sets). Analog TVs hooked up to cable or satellite services won’t be affected by the switchover.” (http://tinyurl.com/2x8vke)

Winona
Home and Community Options, which provides support and residential services to people with developmental disabilities, was featured the Winona Daily News. (http://tinyurl.com/229h67) Blandin is pleased to have a representative from HCO posting updates on the Blandin on Broadband blog. (http://tinyurl.com/235n28)  

Light Speed Project Update

Home and Community Options, Inc, Winona, Minnesota  Peter Walsh, Project Coordinator. 

First the good news:  We have a FTTH connection at our main office!  This blog is being posted at “Light Speed”!  We are trying to be patient waiting for additional sites to be hooked up but the weather just has not helped.  The severe cold has caused all kinds of headaches for HBCI and their technicians have been busy keeping customers connected.  Our project is too far down the triage list to expect priority treatment.  So we are learning to be patient.

 

 

 

So this begins our lesson in barriers.  We knew going in that there would be barriers but we didn’t know what they would be.  Of course if we knew what they were going to be we could have anticipated them and been a bit proactive.  But that is the nature of many barriers; they crop up when you least expect them.  We were somewhat surprised to learn that a fair number of our staff are not ready to implement some of the advanced uses of Outlook and Excel and that we needed to offer some additional training for them.  Then we were surprised how much that training was going to cost, so we hunted around and found an independent Microsoft Trainer who is willing work with us.  Now we are endeavoring to put together a training room that we will not have to tear down after every class.  A tenant has just moved out of some of our space and we are commandeering that until it is rented.  This will enable us to set up a formal training center that we can use for a month or so to provide hands-on-training for our staff.

 

 

We are making good headway with our Remote Monitoring project and have begun wiring our first house.  We hope to begin installing cameras and security sensors next week.  Then it will be an extended period of testing and monitoring the reliability of the system. And, I’m sure we will encounter a few new barriers to overcome. (See blog entry “Obstacles to Remote Monitoring” by Dennis Theede, Executive Director, Home and Community Options, Inc.)

light speed communityThe Blandin Foundation is supporting four standout broadband programs through the Light Speed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. This post comes from a Light Speed community leader.

Obstacles to the use of Remote Monitoring Technology

Dennis Theede, Executive Director

Home and Community Options, Inc. 

Home and Community Options, Inc. is participating in a statewide discussion with the Minnesota Department of Human Services, advocates, consumers and providers to discuss the uses of technology to support persons who have disabilities.  Through discussions about service innovation, sponsored in our State, there has been excitement about using technology to support persons who are elderly or disabled and in need of support.  But with the excitement come obstacles to progressing with technology applications.  There are licensing barriers interpreted to require direct on site supervision.  Others in the field site their concerns about the reliability of technology and the fail safe measures required to insure people are kept safe when they use technology as a means of support.  Others express concerns about this technology misused to violate privacy.

 

 

These barriers cannot be ignored and must be carefully discussed with all stakeholders.  Careful measures need to be incorporated into any applications of technology to support others.  With that said, our society must be responsive to the looming demographic and resource crisis in human services.  The system must be flexible in allowing opportunities for technology to be tried and tested.  Research and data must be attained to validate appropriate applications and prevent uses that put persons in danger.  There must be reasonable allowances to try technology so that along with others in society, technology can be a means of becoming more efficient and enhancing quality of life for those who choose to use it.  Our fear of change and failure to balance dignity of risk with safety should not detour us from using technology to help others.

light speed communityThe Blandin Foundation is supporting four standout broadband programs through the Light Speed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. This post comes from a Light Speed community leader.

Two Great Minnesota Broadband Applications

I ran across two articles that highlight two aspects of telelhealth in Minnesota; each has a very different perspective – but together they give both the industry and consumer views of the advantages broadband technology brings to healthcare.

Home and Community Options in Winona Daily News

It isn’t that often that I get to read heartwarming articles about broadband – but today I did. Stewart Shaw, a Community Columnist from the Winona Daily News, wrote a great article about Home and Community Options, which provides support and residential services to people with developmental disabilities in order to enable individuals to live as full members of their communities.

Shaw paints a picture of what technology of a remote monitoring can mean to the residents and staff supporting independent living. He credits a grant from Blandin Foundation and in-kind grant from Hiawatha Broadband Communications. (I want to point out that this is the Blandin on Broadband blog – in fact we have a blogger from the HCO.) The article makes me realize that everyone’s “killer app” is different.

Mayo Clinic & Medical Imaging in FoxBusiness

I also read about the Mayo Clinic and IBM are building a Medical Imaging Informatics Innovation Center (MI3C) in Rochester Minnesota. At the heart of the MI3C will be the latest in high-end imaging platforms and computational hardware, including IBM’s breakthrough computing system based on the Cell Broadband Engine and blade technology.

I won’t pretend to truly understand all of the projects that they are planning for the Center – but it seems as if, not surprisingly, they all revolve around improving the quality of pictures they can take of organs, tumors, and the swallowing process to help them diagnose and track parents’ symptoms.

Home and Community Options, Inc. Light Speed Grant Recipient

  We are waiting expectantly for our first homes to be connected with the fiber to the home connection.  The cables are being strung and the technicians are bustling about as we standby and watch and pester them with questions they can’t answer; like “When can we start using it?”  We know the increased speed of our internet connections will have a huge impact on our network as we have 23 remote sits all connected together as a virtual private network.  As soon as we get two or three sites connected we can begin testing various applications. In anticipation of the greater functionality we have begun doing an assessment of the proficiency levels of our staff.  Like all organizations that implement technology enterprise wide we have a great disparity between the “power users” and the “reluctant users”.  With some 150 people to train we find it is an ongoing challenge to keep everyone up to speed.  We have conducted many in-house training sessions but still find it hard to reach the “reluctant user” as they usually do not take advantage of the training opportunities.  So our technology committee recommended that we look into brining in an outside trainer to assist us.  Our first thought was to contact the Custom Training Center at Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical.  We met with Christi Braun, a Custom Training Consultant, and reviewed our needs.  She made some good suggestions regarding the configuration of our classes; such as providing a separate class for upper management as a means of getting them excited and willing to provide leadership within their departments. She also recommended that we conduct the training in our training center so staff will have access to actual data to work with.  Christi will be getting back to us with a proposal and we hope to offer classes in late January or early February. With the holidays upon us I don’t expect too much more progress until after the first of the year.  Then I hope we will begin to see consistent progress toward our goals.

light speed communityThe Blandin Foundation is supporting four standout broadband programs through the Light Speed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. This post comes from a Light Speed community leader.

Home and Community Options, Inc. – FTTH Underway

We are very excited about implementing our FTTH project.  We have been working with HBC, plotting all of our homes on the installation map and determining the potential complications with each of them.  Some will be much easier to connect than others.  Dan Pecarina, HBC VP Technology Services, has been extremely helpful in this process.  We then prioritized our facilities to insure that the most important programs were installed first. 

HBC then began to work our project into their installation schedule.  If all goes according to the schedule we should start having our first FTTH connection within the next week and our “high priority” first 3 connections completed before Christmas!

At Home and Community Options we have been busy getting things ready for the install.  We have been experimenting with some different methods of using Outlook to manage many of our day-to-day program management and communication functions. We call this our Efile system.   As soon as our FTTH connection is made we will test some of the different file sharing techniques to determine which approach provides us with the most secure and efficient performance.  Then as new homes are brought into the FTTH network we will implement the Efile program in them.

We also have been working with the residents of one of our priority homes to prepare them to become a test site for our Remote Monitoring Program.  We met with the men and all the responsible people on their Interdisciplinary Team. This team would include people like guardians, Case Managers, HCO representative, work site representative and any other parties that would have input into the individuals care plan.  We reviewed the precautions that would need to taken in order for the men to be allowed to be home alone without a night staff on duty. 

I ordered the basic equipment we will need to set up a remote monitoring program in this home and we hope to have all the components installed by the second week of January.  Then we will begin testing the various protocols that we would need to be able to implement if the men were going to be cared for remotely.

We are very grateful for the Blandin Light Speed Initiative for this opportunity to enhance our program quality and efficiency by connecting all of our programs to a fiber network.

light speed communityThe Blandin Foundation is supporting four standout broadband programs through the Light Speed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. This post comes from a Light Speed community leader.