Broadband helps remove obstructions to health care in Minnesota

The Post Bulletin recent ran an article on What obstructs health care in Minnesota? They listed problems such as:

  • Record sharing
  • Insurance rates
  • Workforce

They also listed broadband as a possible solution…

Rural providers especially have a difficult time retaining employees, the table agreed.

Possible solutions included lowering standards that prevent people with any criminal records from being hired in any capacity, and instituting a broadband network that could connect rural buildings with higher-tech providers downtown.

I might say more. Broadband is obviously going to help with record sharing. It helps with workforce too. Yes, it can help you connect with other facilities but for rural areas attracting health care workers, but broadband can be a powerful tool to entice trailing spouses and significant others. With broadband those folks ca work anywhere.

Google to give $1B, help U.S. workers find jobs

According to MSN News

Google will invest $1 billion over the next five years in nonprofit organizations helping people adjust to the changing nature of work, the largest philanthropic pledge to date from the Internet giant.

Here’s a high level look at their plan…

Google will make grants in its three core areas: education, economic opportunity and inclusion. Already in the last few months, it has handed out $100 million of the $1 billion to nonprofits, according to Pichai.

The largest single grant — $10 million, the largest Google’s ever made — is going to Goodwill, which is creating the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator. Over the next three years Goodwill, a major player in workforce development, aims to provide 1 million people with access to digital skills and career opportunities. Pichai says 1,000 Google employees will be available for career coaching.

In all, Google employees will donate 1 million volunteer hours to assist organizations like Goodwill trying to close the gap between the education and skills of the American workforce and the new demands of the 21st century workplace, Pichai said.

Work is changing. It doesn’t seem like schools are catching up. Although I do hear about other programs (Coder DoJos for kids, Robotics, Hackfests…) that are leading the way. Hopefully Google can help cushion the disruption for students, workers and businesses!

Personalized Tech Education at Woz(niak) U

Woz U looks so appealing I’m nearly thinking about trying the classes myself. I just need a little free time! But the word comes from Business Insider

Steve “Woz” Wozniak, cofounder of Apple Computer and inventor of the Apple II computer, announced on Friday the launch of his latest startup, Woz U.

The venture is a “digital institute” meant to help people gain skills in computer science to fill gaps in high-paying technology roles. Wozniak, beloved for his affability, said Woz U was created to make tech less intimidating.

Here’s a little bit more about the programs offered…

Woz U is hardly the first coding school designed to make seasoned engineers out of novice techies. Udacity, for instance, was founded in 2012 and boasts more than 1.5 million users. Around the world, there are dozens more bootcamps with a similar mission. Critics, however, have said the tech industry rarely hires the bootcamp graduate over the person with the four-year degree, arguing the skills they gain still tend to fall short in the workplace.

Woz U wants to separate itself through its various divisions. The primary one is the collection of online classes that people can enroll in to learn the basics of computer support and software development. In time, the curriculum will expand to include data scientists and cybersecurity experts. Woz U will also focus on getting students career-ready by helping them with their resumes, practice coding tests, and building out their portfolios.

In addition, Woz U will look to enter schools to encourage kids in K-12 to pursue science, tech, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM); it’ll build an accelerator program to “develop elite tech talent”; and it’ll work with companies to recruit and train new talent on-site, through Woz U programs.

A good start to smart cities – smart streets lights

State Tech recently ran an article with a few good ideas for smart city projects. The projects come from big cities – but it seems like there might be a way to adapt them to smaller towns and rural areas too…

From Chicago…

The Chicago Department of Transportation, for example, recently embarked on a $160 million smart street lighting project, much of which will pay for itself. According to a press release from the city, the LED bulbs and IoT-connected devices will be 50 to 75 percent more efficient than traditional lighting methods, meaning the energy cost savings will largely cover the cost of the modernization project.

From Los Angeles…

Meanwhile, Los Angeles, an early adopter of the tech, has equipped more than 80 percent of its streets with connected lights that feature LED bulbs and 4G LTE wireless tech over the last few years. The city is already seeing the benefits of the change.

The city reported a 63 percent savings on its energy bill in the first year with the new lights, and it’s using the connected poles to improve resident cell service, among other benefits.

From Schenectady…

Moreover, in Schenectady, N.Y., city officials have targeted smart street lighting as a foundational element of its overall smart city transformation. As part of a greater smart city initiative facilitated through partnerships with Cisco Systems and GE, the city has upgraded more than 5,000 of its existing streetlights to sustainable LED bulbs, making the entire network accessible through a secure web browser.

Schenectady already sees great energy and cost savings from the upgrade, as well as enhancements to public safety, but it’s looking to expand the role that smart street lights can play even further, Mayor Gary McCarthy said at the Smart Cities Week conference in Washington, D.C., last week.

Minnesota becomes 23rd state to ‘opt-in’ to FirstNet

According to the press release…

Governor Mark Dayton today approved a plan to modernize Minnesota’s communications infrastructure, to better connect and serve first responders across the state. The plan, developed by AT&T under the federal FirstNet effort, will build modern communications infrastructure to power a high-speed, wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety, at no cost to Minnesota taxpayers.
“First responders across our state risk their lives every day to protect and serve the people of Minnesota,” said Governor Dayton. “Modernizing our communications infrastructure will allow our courageous first responders to coordinate and respond more quickly, effectively, and safely, creating better outcomes for them and the communities they serve.”
Modernizing Minnesota’s communications network for first responders will make response and coordination more efficient and secure across the state. The new infrastructure will help expand critical communication coverage to currently underserved areas of Greater Minnesota. The modernization will also help agencies coordinate in response to major public safety events, such as the upcoming 2018 Super Bowl.
“The workgroups devoted numerous hours to ensure the dedicated wireless broadband network offered the tools needed for those on the front lines of an emergency,” said Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman. “FirstNet promises to change the way Minnesota’s public safety personnel, in every corner of the state, do their jobs.
In a letter to FirstNet CEO Mike Poth, Governor Dayton stressed the importance of FirstNet consulting with the 11 Federally Recognized Minnesota tribes as sovereign nations, to determine whether building out the public safety communications network on their land would be beneficial to their citizens. Once built, agencies across Minnesota will have the option to opt-in and subscribe to FirstNet service.
About FirstNet
Congress created the First Responder Network Authority (“FirstNet”) in 2012. It provided for a section of prime radio spectrum and $7 billion to entice a partner to take on the responsibility of managing a network for public safety. AT&T answered the call, and will provide more than 100MB of spectrum capacity and strong cybersecurity defenses on the network.
To learn more about how FirstNet will help Minnesota first responders, click here.

Blandin Webinar Oct 12: The Smart Home: Energy, Security & Entertainment

Smart Home Showcase

Learn how integrated technology is changing the home environment and the role ubiquitous broadband networks play in this technology  deployment and use.  Energy management, lighting, security, entertainment and other functions are increasingly available and easy to deploy.  Bill Coleman of Community Technology Advisors will provide an overview of these tech possibilities.

Many are here today; others are coming fast.

When: Oct 12 at 3 pm
(Register here!)

Senator Lourey Lack of broadband hurts healthcare in Otter Tail County

The Fergus Falls Daily Journal reports…

District 11 Minnesota Sen. Tony Lourey visited Fergus Falls on Tuesday afternoon to speak with local health care leaders and government officials. The fourth of 10 visits across the state, Sen. Lourey hoped to learn more about dynamic approaches to health care management being employed in rural areas, in an effort to better inform future conversations in the state Senate.

Turns out broadband access is a big barrier in the area…

Broadband internet infrastructure across the region is another concern, according to John Dinsmore, director of community Services for Otter Tail County. Dinsmore explained that the same lakes which make the area so desirable for residents also present a considerable challenge when laying fiber optic cables.

In fact, recent estimates anticipate that the necessary expenses for installation of broadband services across the county would total nearly $170 million.

Still, the improved service coverage would mean enhanced appeal for rural communities looking to attract medical professionals. At present, those considering small-town living may feel isolated.

“You’re not connected — literally,” Dinsmore said.