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.