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.

Webinar Archive: Census 2020: The Count Starts Now

Pleased to share the information from yesterday’s webinar – Census 2020: The Count Starts Now…

Minnesota works when the Census works. We have a better Minnesota when everyone is counted. Everyone gets a role in our government and their civil rights are supported. Dollars get allocated to help families and communities close opportunity gaps. We churn the wheels of “small d” democracy with data to plan, make good decisions and measure the impact of our work. We help grow jobs and our local economy by providing every business with the data it needs to make smart investments.

But, we don’t gain any of the benefits if we do not make sure everyone is able to participate. Some barriers have always been there; families do not think to count their young children, people of color are not counted, we miss people who are new to our communities or we miss people who live in rural areas. Making getting a full count even harder in rural communities is the increased reliance on computers, smart phones, tablets and other devices to collect Census responses in 2020 – not easy task in communities underserved by broadband.

To get a full count in Minnesota, we need to be talking with state and federal lawmakers so they organize and fund an effective Census and American Community Survey.  We also need to start planning how we are going to organize ourselves – our own communities. Who from your community should be involved in helping with the advocacy and making sure we have a good plan for Minnesota?  Certainly you, but what other partners in business, the public sector, nonprofit communities or your faith community should be involved? Send your thoughts to MACS (Minnesotans for the American Community Survey) http://www.minnesotansforacs.org/.

House buyers look at broadband – need lower prices without it

Telecompetitor reports on the results of a recent Fiber to the Home Council survey…

More than 90% (91%) of respondents said quality broadband was “very important” in choosing a community in which to live — second only to “safe streets,” which was cited by 98% of respondents.

They also mention another, similar survey with similar results…

FTTH is also seen as adding value to homes and real estate. Again, access to very high speed and reliable broadband (88%) ranked second, this time following laundry rooms, among amenities seen as increasing the value of single-family residences and first (81%) in terms of multi-family housing.

How much lower in price would a single-family home or condo unit without very fast and reliable broadband need to be to entice respondents to move in? According to FTTH Council’s findings, a discount of $8,528, or 2.8%, for a $300,000 MDU condo and $80, or 8.0% of a $1,000 a month MDU condo rental. The corresponding discount to purchase a $300,000 single-family residence was $9,734, or 3.2%.

Entrepreneurship needs fostering AND broadband such as Red Wing Ignite

Clearly I’ve been wrestling with recent research indicating that rural counties with better broadband do not also have greater levels of entrepreneurship.

I get it and I think it has a lot to do with jobs but I just so firmly believe that it’s pre-broadband job mentality getting in the way of broadband economic opportunities. Jobs are right for some people but broadband should open the door to other choices.

I thought about that when I read about Lt Governor Tina Smith’s visit to Red Wing Ignite in the Red Wing Republican Eagle

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith visited with Red Wing Ignite representatives and toured the building Thursday as part of her “87 Counties in 86 Days” tour.

Red Wing has FTTH. That’s great but more importantly I think Red Wing Ignite is helping local businesses and residents learn about the opportunities…

Adkisson, an Ignite board member, explained the organization’s mission to help Red Wing on the map, in the state and nationally, as an “entrepreneurial spirit community.”

“An entrepreneur myself for the last 40 years as a business owner, there’s not a lot of support for our dream,” he said. “So, we thought what we needed to do was go after support for entrepreneurs so that they have the best opportunity to build a business and not just take their dreams and watch them fail.” …

Smith said she was impressed by the organization’s community-wide collaborations to foster talent, workforce and access to capital.

“You can just see what can be accomplished when you’ve got the kind of collaboration that is happening here in Red Wing,” she said. “They are creating a real physical and virtual ecosystem for entrepreneurship in the region and in this community with Red Wing Ignite, and that’s really exciting.”

It will be interesting to see the impact of the programming on business starts, jobs and economic development in the future.

Gig offers opportunity to rural areas especially when jobs are tight

The Daily Yonder posted an article last week from a “gigagigger” who has made his livelihood through broadband…

An unexpected turn of events accelerates a community development scholar’s entry into the gig economy. Equal parts challenge and opportunity, gigging is increasingly the way Americans work.

His story caught my eye in contrast to the recent report that broadband doesn’t correlate with greater entrepreneurialism in rural areas. The report found that high levels of broadband adoption actually meant lower incidence of entrepreneurship and creative class employment.

His story seems to ring true with what I wrote about that article earlier – people start their own businesses when jobs are scarce. Certainly that is true with him and broadband made that leap easier…

Gig, as a prefix with an added “a” can be a measure of a lot of something, such as a gigawatt or a gigabyte, or can become part of tons of other slang words, according to the Urban Dictionary. There seem to be a lot of gig workers in the United States, somewhere in the neighborhood of 46 million, according to some estimates. Perhaps we can coin a facetious term, gigagiggers (nowhere near a billion), who are an incredibly positive spur for creativity and job creation in rural communities. On the down side, the growth of gig employment is symptomatic of a larger plutocratic economy that has all too frequently been unable (unwilling) to create a broad range of full-time, permanent positions, especially in rural areas.

Broadband may be necessary to start a business (or at least makes is a heck of a lot easier) but not sufficient.

I am a gigagigger and have been for 15 years. I didn’t need to worry about insurance. That was a help. And my dad is an entrepreneur – that helped even more. If entrepreneurship is a goal in rural areas I think it makes sense to promote broadband but also make sure those other supports are in place – insurance (the author of the article mentions that too) and education or mentoring.

And childcare. That would have been helpful too. I joked while touring a new coworking space that what they really needed was childcare but think of the opportunities there. Gig work is great work if you’re a parent but there are times when you need to make a phone call without Barney singing in the background.

Broadband is a great first step, we just need a few more to make it easier to take the leap into starting a business.