Broadband allows helps seniors stay in their homes longer

The Foundation for Rural Service and the Rural Telephone Finance Cooperative published an issue on Aging in Place and the Role of Broadband as part of their Rural Telecom Educational Series.

Here are some fast facts that make telemedicine compelling…

  • Almost 13 percent of Americans are 65 years or older. By 2030, that is expected to be 19 percent – that’s nearly one in five people.
  • AARP found that nearly 90 percent of Americans 65 or older want to stay in their homes for as long possible.
  • Nearly  4 percent more rural seniors are in nursing homes than their urban counterparts
  • According to the National Rural Health Association, only 10 percent of physicians practice in rural America despite the fact that nearly one-fourth of the population lives in these areas.

What does telehealth look like?

Telemedicine can be further classified into three  main categories: 1.  store-and-forward. Medical information—typically in the realm of dermatology, radiology, or pathology— is sent to a doctor or specialist for analysis; this does not require the simultaneous presence of physicians and patients. 2.  remote monitoring. Doctors remotely check a patient’s vital signs and caregivers are alerted to falls or wandering. 3.  interactive services. These involve concurrent interactions between patient and doctor. Services could comprise telephone and email exchanges, as well as live video connections between the two parties.

Where is Minnesota a leader?

Spring Grove Communications, a telephone cooperative in Spring Grove, Minn., is just starting to explore plans for telemedicine because it recently completed a two-year fiber-to-the-home project. “We’ve got fiber to the home to every house in our service area, and that covers 100 square miles,” explained Craig Otterness, general manager and chief executive officer, noting that telemedicine would be  a good fit. “This is a town of 1,400 and most are elderly.”

And the business case for looking into telemedicine…

Research firm IDC agreed that telecom providers would be smart to capitalize on the telemedicine industry, particularly the residential-based side of the business. “The total addressable market in home telehealth in the United States will grow to 60.3 million households in 2015,” IDC stated. According to a recent report from Kalorama Information, a health care market research firm, the market for remote patient monitoring technologies will grow from $6 billion in 2011 to more than $18 billion by 2014.

Top reasons for great connectivity in the parks in Dakota County (or any place!)

campingDakota County has great wireless broadband in their parks. They just installed fiber at the Whitetail Woods Park and three wireless ports that support speeds from 40-60Mbps. It’s out near UMORE Park.

I’ve told a few folks and the common response seems to be why? So I’m going to do something different and just post my top ten reasons I think it’s great to have good, wireless broadband in the park.

  1. In case you get lost or injured. If you have a smartphone and can access the network, you can get help.
  2. Got community space to rent – having good access makes it much more attractive for a business retreat.
  3. Got a cabin to rent – having good access makes it possible for more people to stay longer. Yes, being off the gird can be nice but many people simply can’t leave work unattended for that long. Being able to check in a couple times a day can help many people extend a visit.
  4. Snap and post those pictures in real time. It makes a vacation with teens a lot easier! If it’s Instagram-worthy, it’s a vacation. (And great promotion for the park.)
  5. Look it up – find out what tree that is or what that rash could mean.
  6. Bring in the students – bring in their one-to-one iPads and make use of some fun outdoor adventure apps.
  7. Broadcast nature to the cubed masses. Several parks have webcams that broadband the nature to us – such as the Ely International Wolf Cam. They are popular, they build an interest and demand for the park.
  8. Internet of Thing can means remotely monitoring and managing park stuff from afar – turn on air conditioning, monitoring fire risk, warn for dangers.
  9. Apps for everyone. There are lake finder apps, star gazer apps, fishing and hunting license apps and more.

Want to be a gamer when you grow up? Here’s a MN resource to help.

It feels like “I want to be a gamer when I grow up” is a little bit like “I want to be an actor, firefighter or astronaut.” Yes – someone does grow up to become those things but for most, it’s impractical. Unless you have the support to help you hone the skills and lead the way.

Well, Minnesota has such a resource, a nonprofit called Glitch and they were recently featured in Duluth New Tribune

Headquartered on the University of Minnesota’s west bank, Glitch helps incipient game designers create, develop and publish games. The organization has helped designers throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas.

They have a number of opportunities to learn…

Glitch offers weekly events and has larger educational programs throughout the year. Its two-week Immersion program, occurring in January, takes a group of 20 people and asks them to stay awhile and listen — a joke any gamer should instantly get — as professionals educate them on a game development topic from start to finish. A past program resulted in an augmented reality game for the Minnesota Historical Society called Play the Past.

And they have the number indicating that there’s work to be had…

And there’s certainly money to be made. Video games have become a $16.8 billion revenue industry in the U.S. and generated $79.7 billion worldwide last year, according to the International Trade Administration. U.S. revenues are projected to increase by another $3 billion by 2019.

And Minnesota has at least a toehold in the industry…

Though the U.S. video game industry is generally established in California, Minnesota makes notable contributions. Game Informer magazine, a monthly video game publication, is based in Minneapolis and has a circulation of 6.3 million, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

Got community WiFi? Facebook help promote that in the future!

According to VentureBeat, Facebook is testing a feature that will highlight nearby public WiFi hotspots…

Facebook has begun early testing of a feature designed to highlight places where you can access free and public Wi-Fi near you. The social networking company confirmed that its Wi-Fi discovery feature is being rolled out now, though it appears to only be in select countries.

“To help people stay connected to the friends and experiences they care about, we are rolling out a new feature that surfaces open Wi-Fi networks associated with nearby places,” a Facebook spokesperson shared with VentureBeat.

It seems like a feature that would be useful enough (and a way to hone advertising, so profitable to Facebook) to get traction. It also seems like easy marketing for businesses and communities that have hotspots.

Several of the Blandin Broadband Communities have built public hot spots for the community to help people without broadband at home to get access. Many have done clever advertising locally to promote the WiFi and the businesses that host it – this might be a way to spread the word to travelers who might choose to stop based on access.

Maybe it seems like a great idea because tomorrow I’ll be driving home from Chicago – but all things being equal I will always choose a pit stop with WiFi so that my kids can quickly download whatever videos they want and I can upload whatever work I’m doing without pushing our data cap fee to four digits. And part what I save on the data cap gets spent on lunch or treat or headphones or other road trip emergencies.

Tremendous energy unleashed through broadband in Redwood County

Pleased to share a letter to the editor of Redwood Gazette from Blandin President and CEO Kathy Annette…

Recently, a team from Blandin Foundation was in Redwood Falls to celebrate the wrap-up of our partnership with Nobles County in the Blandin Broadband Communities Program.

What we saw was impressive: a diverse group of dedicated broadband champions working together to make their communities better.

Over the past 18 months, educators, entrepreneurs, health care professionals, business owners and county, city and tribal officials have come together to envision and shepherd $90,848 of Blandin investment in 10 projects designed to help ensure that all county residents have access to high speed broadband and the skills to use it.

By working together, these residents have unleashed tremendous energy that will help carry out the projects beyond the life of the grants. Taken together, the projects are improving the lives and futures  of people all across Redwood County. To name just a few – new and upgraded computers and free public Internet access at the Redwood Falls library; training for businesses and new computer users; computer distributed to low income households and innovative tele-health services that help residents age with dignity in place.

Local leadership matters. Blandin Foundation commends the community champions in Redwood Falls, especially team leaders Julie Rath, for your vision and dedication to making a more connected and equitable community.

Tremendous energy unleashed through broadband in Martin County

Pleased to share a letter to the editor of Fairmount Photo Press from Blandin President and CEO Kathy Annette…

Recently, a team from Blandin Foundation was in Redwood Falls to celebrate the wrap-up of our partnership with Nobles County in the Blandin Broadband Communities Program. What we saw was impressive: a diverse group of dedicated broadband champions working together to make their communities better.

Over the past 18 months, Martin County’s Broadband Steering Committee of over 40 educators, entrepreneurs, health care professionals, business owners and county, city and tribal officials assessed community technology strengths and gaps, brainstormed ideas and identified ambitious goals: affordable broadband access for all; technology support for k-12 education; and improved public education and awareness about the benefits and opportunities that come from being a connected community. In all, Blandin Foundation invested $86,600 grant dollars to help Martin County achieve these goals, and the community leveraged thousands more, along with many hours of volunteer time.

Taken together, the projects are improving the lives and futures  of people all across Martin County. Highlights include: technology training for seniors and businesses; a coder dojo for students, creation of a community calendar; a push to encourage Martin County businesses to “claim their place” on Google maps; computers and other technology for schools; distribution of 50 refurbished computers to income qualifying families, and; a feasibility study to document broadband and help steering committee in charting a path forward for better broadband. By working together, this leadership team has unleashed tremendous energy that will help carry out the projects beyond the life of the grants.

To name just a few – new and upgraded computers and free public Internet access at the Redwood Falls library; training for businesses and new computer users; computer distributed to low income households and innovative tele-health services that help residents age with dignity in place.

Local leadership matters. Blandin Foundation commends the Martin County Steering Committee under the leadership of County Coordinator Scott Higgins, for your vision and dedication to making a more connected and equitable community.

Kudos to Nobles County leaders on broadband efforts

Pleased to share a letter to the editor of Worthington Daily Globe from Blandin President and CEO Kathy Annette…

Recently, a team from Blandin Foundation was in Worthington to celebrate the wrap-up of our partnership with Nobles County in the Blandin Broadband Communities Program. What we saw was impressive: a diverse group of dedicated broadband champions working together to make their communities better.

Leaders in the Nobles Economic Opportunity Network (NEON) told us they stepped up to partner with the Foundation to enhance connectivity in the county, where roughly 60 percent of the population is served with broadband that meets state goals. However, less than 20 percent of the land area is considered served.  Project partners included townships, cities, county staff, school districts, business, and Minnesota West Community and Technical College.

NEON’s priorities were to bring fiber to the home (FTTH) to the entire county, promote digital inclusion, and improve the county’s broadband marketing and advocacy.

Over the past 18 months, Blandin Foundation has been proud to provide grant dollars to support the hard work, dedication and vision of the NEON Steering Committee to make great things happen in Nobles County: new public wireless hotspots; a feasibility study to investigate possible paths toward world class connectivity for everyone in the county; new digital resources for county residents; iPads and training at the library; better internet to BAC; technology and education for residents of Round Lake; business training; and plans for an innovative regional data center.

Thanks to this hard work, in the words of Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson, “A connected community with endless opportunities is just around the corner” for Nobles County. By working together, this leadership team has unleashed tremendous energy that will help carry out the projects beyond the life of the grants.

Local leadership matters. Blandin Foundation commends NEON and other leaders in Nobles County for your vision and dedication to building a more connected community with opportunity for all.