New FirstNet Cell Site Launches in Fillmore County to Support First Responders in Southeastern Minnesota

Good news in Fillmore County from AT&T

What’s the news? First responders in southeastern Minnesota are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site located in Fillmore County.

This FirstNet site will provide coverage when traveling along State Highway 43 and Alpine Drive near Yucatan between Peterson and Spring Grove. It will also give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.

Why is this important? We look at FirstNet as the most important wireless network in the country because it’s serving our first responders. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides dedicated mobile broadband. To ensure AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) are putting coverage and capacity where first responders need it most, the FirstNet build is being done with direct feedback from state and public safety officials. This helps ensure Minnesota first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. Other FirstNet sites already launched in Minnesota include Bagley, Baudette, Blackduck, Cloquet, Echo Trail (northwest of Ely), Finlayson, Graceville, Grygla, Hovland, Isabella, Kellogg (Hwy 42), Kjostad Lake, Lewiston and Williams.

What are the benefits to first responders? Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in Minnesota, we’re actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable, unthrottled connectivity and modern communications tools they need. These sites were constructed using Band 14 spectrum, as well as AT&T commercial spectrum. Band 14 is nationwide, high quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. We look at Band 14 as public safety’s VIP lane. In an emergency, this band – or lane – can be cleared and locked just for FirstNet subscribers. That means only those on the FirstNet network will be able to access Band 14 spectrum, further elevating their connected experience and emergency response. Band 14 has been added on more than 600 existing sites across Minnesota, including markets such as the Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester, the Iron Range, St. Cloud and the Brainerd/Baxter area.

How does this help Minnesota residents? This new infrastructure will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in the area. Residents, visitors and businesses can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when capacity is available.

It’s time for the MN Broadband Model to bring broadband to communities without ability to ask

The Duluth News Tribune posts a letter to the editor from David Beard, who teaches writing and communication at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He outlines some projects that have done a great job bringing broadband to some parts of the northland but the letter is a reminder that we are not all there and until we are, we need to keep working…

Imagine if you had to drive to your local library to virtually visit with a therapist about your increasing anxiety during the pandemic. Or imagine if you had to drive to the community center to ask your doctor to take a look at the mole that appeared on your forearm. It sounds inconvenient, invasive, and awkward.

And yet, for as long as one in 10 Minnesotans lacks access to broadband internet, we are telling our (mostly rural) neighbors that we don’t care how inconvenient, invasive, and awkward it can be for them to see their doctor.

Broadband internet access is a health care equity issue, and we need to do more.

EVENT Sep 18: National Day of Civic Hacking

An invitation from the Code for America Team…

Whether you’ve attended one Code for America Brigade meetup, or you’re a regular attendee, we wanted to make sure you knew about our upcoming National Day of Civic Hacking event on September 18. This is an opportunity to use your time and skills to help transform our 911 emergency system. Right now, our 911 system often deploys an armed law enforcement response as a one-size-fits-all solution regardless of the caller’s needs.

But what if our country’s emergency response system were “people-first”? There is a growing movement to reimagine this system, starting by understanding its levers for change. That’s where the Code for America community comes in.

Register now to join National Day of Civic Hacking 2021. On Saturday, September 18, join fellow civic leaders, public servants, designers, coders, data scientists, and activists for our 9th annual National Day of Civic Hacking—a day of action to partner with local communities and tackle some of our toughest challenges.

This year our theme is “Reimagining 911.” We’ve partnered with Transform 911 to understand, evaluate, and reimagine a human-centered approach to the emergency response system.

This virtual event kicks off with a panel at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET followed by working time, an optional lunch-and-learn, and closing remarks. Participants have the option to work independently or with their local Brigade, community group, or assigned volunteer group.

During working time, our coordinated action teams will participate in the following actions:

– Open Data: Research & Scorecard

– Data Analysis

– Prototyping: Case Studies & exploring “How Might We” Statements

We welcome people of all skill levels as well as new and returning volunteers alike. While “hacking” is in the name, you don’t need to know how to code to participate. There will be actions available to leverage different skills, technical and nontechnical. Check out our FAQs to learn more about National Day of Civic Hacking.

See you on the 18th,

The Code for America Team

To reply to this message, please contact brigade-info@codeforamerica.org

New FirstNet Cell Site Launches Near Baudette to Support First Responders in Northern Minnesota

Latest news on FirstNet from AT&T

Northern Minnesota’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site located just south of Baudette near the North Branch Rapid River in Lake of the Woods County.

This FirstNet site will provide coverage when traveling along County Highway 84 and County Highway 1 near the Town of Carp in northern Minnesota. It will also give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.

Why is this important? We look at FirstNet as the most important wireless network in the country because it’s serving our first responders. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides dedicated mobile broadband. To ensure AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) are putting coverage and capacity where first responders need it most, the FirstNet build is being done with direct feedback from state and public safety officials. This helps ensure Minnesota first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. Other FirstNet sites already launched in Minnesota include Bagley, Blackduck, Cloquet, Echo Trail (northwest of Ely), Finlayson, Graceville, Grygla, Hovland, Isabella, Kellogg (Hwy 42), Kjostad Lake, Lewiston and Williams.

What are the benefits to first responders? Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in Minnesota, we’re actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable, unthrottled connectivity and modern communications tools they need. These sites were constructed using Band 14 spectrum, as well as AT&T commercial spectrum. Band 14 is nationwide, high quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. We look at Band 14 as public safety’s VIP lane. In an emergency, this band – or lane – can be cleared and locked just for FirstNet subscribers. That means only those on the FirstNet network will be able to access Band 14 spectrum, further elevating their connected experience and emergency response. Band 14 has been added on more than 600 existing sites across Minnesota, including markets such as the Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester, the Iron Range, St. Cloud and the Brainerd/Baxter area.

How does this help Minnesota residents? This new infrastructure will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in the area. Residents, visitors and businesses can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when capacity is available.

Minnesota can fund broadband AND electric vehicles

Twin Cities Business reports…

With the recent Senate passage of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, states are looking for what level of federal funding they might expect for their own projects. The Biden Administration released preliminary numbers last week, giving Minnesota a glimpse at projects it might be able to complete after final passage of the infrastructure package. Some big-ticket items were $4.5 billion for highways, $302 million for bridge repairs and $802 million to improve public transportation across the state.

In addition to those funds, the White House said Minnesota can expect to receive $68 million over the span of five years to “support the expansion of an [electric vehicle] charging network in the state.”

This is a relatively small investment compared to the rest of the cash Minnesota could receive, but experts say this would be a huge opportunity to get more Minnesotans to drive EVs and reduce their carbon footprint.

An interesting note from the article was Senator Dahms suggesting that broadband funding might be used to fund EVs…

[State Sen. Gary] Dahms pointed to broadband — another big infrastructure bill spending area — as an example of a state priority taking years to achieve and lagging behind in rural areas.

“We put a lot of money into broadband, I’ve been working on broadband for 11 years,” Dahms said. “In Minnesota, we still have areas that do not have broadband. But we spent a lot of money, we have spent a lot of money in the metro area and we have a lot of good reception of broadband there. Shift that to electric cars.”

Can broadband help with these wild fires? Turns out yes!

I am in St Paul and I can tell you the air is thick and air quality seems poor. My colleagues up North say it’s worse there (between storms!). So this story from Urgent Communications seems particularly apt today…

Members of the Verizon Response Team (VRT) are using a variety of solutions to deliver broadband communications to public-safety agencies battling wildfires throughout the U.S.—at no additional cost—as part of the carrier’s Verizon Frontline offering, according to a Verizon official.

Cory Davis, director of Verizon Response and public-safety operations, said the VRT has been “super busy,” responding to a total of 74 named wildfires already in what is proving to be a very active wildfire season.

“We’ve had 88 deployments across the United States, from California, Oregon, Arizona, Montana, all the way to Minnesota,” Davis said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “There’s a huge fire—the Delta Lake fire—that’s burning right now along the Canadian border. We sent a team up there to help support the operations center, working really closely with the COMLs up there.”

Apparently some states are used to this, Minnesota is listed as a newer or less frequent fire place…

“This is the first time my East team went to a large forest fire in that part of the country,” Davis said. “Places like Canada and Minnesota just generally don’t have large forest fires that often like the West does. But as things are getting warmer and the climate is changing, we’re seeing that fires are popping up everywhere—I had my team out in North Carolina at a fire about a month ago.

The goal is bringing the network closer to the emergency workers…

Firefighters often work to control and extinguish wildfires in locations where terrestrial wireless coverage is not available, so many of the VRT solutions utilize geosynchronous (GEO) satellite communications with “public-safety-grade priority” to provide backhaul, according to Davis.

“We can get an average of 30 mbps downlink and 10 mbps uplink,” he said. “Obviously, there will be bursts with more [data throughput] being available.

“The biggest thing is dealing with latency when you use satellite backhaul—anywhere between 600 and 800 milliseconds—but first responders can do a lot with 30 mbps.”

Davis said that Verizon is closely monitoring developments in the low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite arena and will consider leveraging that technology in the future. This assessment process include testing of LEO-based offerings from companies like Lynk and AST SpaceMobile, which have announced satellite LTE services that will connect directly to a smartphone, as opposed to requiring the user to deploy a satellite dish or a specialized device, he said.

In addition to traditional deployable communications solutions—from those on vehicles to offerings housed in Pelican cases that can be carried by hand to a location—VRTs are using satellite pico cells on trailers (SPOTs) to deliver broadband in a focused area to help support first-responder communications.

“Essentially, we can provide not only a 4G LTE bubble but also a Wi-Fi bubble for—and it depends on the environment—about 6,000 to 7,000 square feet. So, it’s really good for base camps,” Davis said.

“Since it is enclosed, we also have the capability to have it be like a mini operational command-center—you can fit two or three good-sized adults in there. So, you can turn it into not only an asset that deploys coverage and capacity, but it can also work as kind of a makeshift operations center for a very, very small group.”

Verizon cannot use the high-power user equipment (HPUE) that is only permitted on the 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum licensed for FirstNet, but VRTs do have some solutions that can be deployed when extra range is needed, Davis said.

Dakota County Broadband Report 2020

Every county should publish a county broadband annual report! If you do have one – please send it my way. If you don’t,  Dakota Broadband Board (DBB) model is a good one to use (starts on page 19)…

In 2020 the Dakota Broadband Board continued to make significant strides towards its goal of connecting and serving public facilities throughout its member communities in an efficient manner. As stated in the Joint Powers Agreement, the intent of the DBB is:

  • To create a high-performance institutional network for the efficient management of physical network assets owned among members (conduit, fiber, cable, etc.), and to enable more efficient and lower cost price agreements for member for a variety of IP-based services
  • To utilize excess capacity to enhance business attraction, business retention, and economic development opportunities through wholesale access to private sector providers
  • The DBB will not be a retail provider of services to businesses and residents in Dakota County

Project activity continued to increase in 2020 for DBB members. These projects not only improved the way that members were able to serve the public across a variety of programs and platforms, but also increased redundancy in the network to protect against unexpected interruptions and enabled members to better plan for and react to emergencies in their communities. Over 17 miles of fiber were added to the network as a result of DBB projects in 2020.

Through collaborative planning efforts and improvements in administrative processes, the organization also continued to produce effective and responsive outcomes for its members.

The broadband landscape in Dakota County in Dakota County will continue to change. At the conclusion of 2020, the DBB was in the process of considering the issuance of a Request for Proposal (RFP) to facilitate the update of its current Systems Plan. This process will help provide DBB Board members with the data needed to continue to move the organization forward in the future

The report goes on to highlight DBB Projects, Project Planning, Collaboration and Partnership (they excel here!) Budget Summary and Communication and Process Improvement.

Also Dakota County is ahead of the game in many ways and very generous with the information they share.

New FirstNet Cell Site Primarily Powered by Solar Launches on Echo Trail to Support First Responders in Northern Minnesota

Big news in Ely from AT&T…

What’s the news? Northern Minnesota’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site located on the Echo Trail northwest of Ely near Meander Lake and Lake Jeanette State Forest – one of the first primarily powered by solar in the Midwest region.

This FirstNet site will provide coverage when traveling along the Echo Trail, located in the remote wilderness of northeastern Minnesota. It will also give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.

This site, which launched May 18, has already provided coverage to first responders who battled the Bezhik Fire – a wildfire that began May 17 near Bezhik Lake, spread north to Moose Loop Road, and burned 782 acres just a few miles south of the new tower.

Why is this important? We look at FirstNet as the most important wireless network in the country because it’s serving our first responders. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides dedicated mobile broadband. To ensure AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) are putting coverage and capacity where first responders need it most, the FirstNet build is being done with direct feedback from state and public safety officials. This helps ensure Minnesota first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. Other FirstNet sites already launched in Minnesota communities include Bagley, Blackduck, Cloquet, Finlayson, Graceville, Grygla, Hovland, Isabella, Lewiston and Williams.

What are the benefits to first responders? Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in Minnesota, we’re actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable, unthrottled connectivity and modern communications tools they need. These sites were constructed using Band 14 spectrum, as well as AT&T commercial spectrum. Band 14 is nationwide, high quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. We look at Band 14 as public safety’s VIP lane. In an emergency, this band – or lane – can be cleared and locked just for FirstNet subscribers. That means only those on the FirstNet network will be able to access Band 14 spectrum, further elevating their connected experience and emergency response. Band 14 has been added on more than 600 existing sites across Minnesota, including markets such as the Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester, the Iron Range, St. Cloud and the Brainerd/Baxter area.

How does this help Minnesota residents? This new infrastructure will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in the area. Residents, visitors and businesses can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when capacity is available.

What is FirstNet? FirstNet is the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated to and purpose-built for America’s first responders and the extended public safety community. Shaped by the vision of Congress and the first responder community following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, FirstNet stands above commercial offerings. It is built with AT&T in public-private partnership with the FirstNet Authority – an independent agency within the federal government. The FirstNet network is providing first responders with truly dedicated coverage and capacity when they need it, unique benefits like always-on priority and preemption, and high-quality Band 14 spectrum. These advanced capabilities enable FirstNet to help fire, EMS, and law enforcement personnel save lives and protect their communities.

What people are saying:

Sheriff Ross Litman

Sheriff, St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office

“For our first responders battling the Bezhik Fire, this new FirstNet tower provided critical wireless coverage necessary for communication in a very remote area where we previously had poor to no coverage. FirstNet is helping give public safety the connectivity they need to communicate and coordinate emergency response efforts, especially in remote wilderness areas of St. Louis County.”

Paul Weirtz 

President, AT&T Minnesota

“Minnesota’s first responders deserve reliable coverage across the state to help them effectively and efficiently address incidents. And with FirstNet, that’s exactly what they’re getting. We’re pleased this new site could provide critical wireless coverage for the courageous fire fighters and first responders who battled and contained the Bezhik Fire near the Echo Trail. We have a responsibility unlike any other network provider, and couldn’t be more pleased to support the public safety mission by bringing first responders – and residents – greater access to the connectivity they need.”

Edward Parkinson

CEO, FirstNet Authority

“FirstNet is a dedicated broadband platform for public safety, by public safety. We worked hand-in-hand with the Minnesota public safety community to understand their needs for the network. And this new site is a prime example of how that input and feedback is becoming reality. We look forward to supporting Minnesota’s first responders’ use of FirstNet to help them save lives and protect our communities.”

Where can I find more information? Go here to learn more about how AT&T is supporting Minnesota. For more about the value FirstNet is bringing to public safety, check out FirstNet.com. And go here for more FirstNet news.

Minnesota State CIO looks at MN broadband tools

Governing covers a presentation from CIOs from Colorado, California and Minnesota about how each state is handling broadband. Tarek Tomes (MN CIO) answered questions about Minnesota.

Which department addresses broadband?

In Minnesota, broadband efforts are housed within the Department of Employment and Economic Development, Tomes explained, given the inextricable link between access to connectivity and the overall economic health of the state. “[Having] broadband in economic development is ideal because the connection between what happens in the economy and broadband access is so intertwined,” he said. Minnesota IT Services, led by Tomes, does run MNET, Minnesota’s Network for Enterprise Telecommunications, a statewide network that provides connectivity for state agencies, localities, schools and health-care institutions .

Is there State investment in broadband?

In Minnesota, Tomes described the “border-to-border grant program.” Established in 2013, Tomes said it has supported more than $120 million in broadband development in the state. He also pointed to Minnesota’s broadband task force as important to taking a big-picture look at what funding opportunities will work best for which part of the state.

New FirstNet Cell Site Launches in Lewiston to Support First Responders

Here’s the latest from AT&T on FirstNet in Lewiston…

What’s the news? Lewiston’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet network expansion currently underway by AT&T. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site located in Lewiston near the area of Whistle Pass Drive and Rolling Hills Road. This site will provide coverage when traveling along Highway 14 and County Roads 20 and 25 in the Lewiston area. It will also give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.
Why is this important? We look at FirstNet as the most important wireless network in the country because it’s serving our first responders. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides real, dedicated mobile broadband. To ensure AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) are putting coverage and capacity where first responders need it
most, the FirstNet build is being done with direct feedback from state and public safety officials. This helps ensure Minnesota first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. New FirstNet cell sites in Cloquet and Hovland in
northern Minnesota were also announced today. Other FirstNet sites already launched in Minnesota communities include Bagley, Blackduck, Graceville, Grygla, Isabella, Finlayson, and Williams.
What are the benefits to first responders? Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in Minnesota, we’re actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable, unthrottled connectivity and modern communications tools they need.
These sites were constructed using Band 14 spectrum, as well as AT&T commercial spectrum.
Band 14 is nationwide, high quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. We look at Band 14 as public safety’s VIP lane. In an emergency, this band – or lane –can be cleared and locked just for FirstNet subscribers. That means only those on the FirstNet
network will be able to access Band 14 spectrum, further elevating their connected experience and emergency response. Band 14 has been added on more than 450 existing sites across Minnesota, including markets such as the Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester, the Iron Range, St.
Cloud and the Brainerd/Baxter area.

How does this help Lewiston residents? This new infrastructure will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in the Lewiston area. Residents, visitors and businesses can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when additional capacity is available.

New FirstNet Cell Sites Launch in Northeastern Minnesota to Support First Responders

Here’s the latest from AT&T on FirstNet in Northeastern MN (near Cloquet and Hovland)…

What’s the news? First responders in northeastern Minnesota are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T*. We’ve added new, purpose-built cell sites located near Cloquet on County Road 3 and in Hovland along the North Shore between Grand Marais and Grand Portage. These sites will
give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.
Why is this important? We look at FirstNet as the most important wireless network in the country because it’s serving our first responders. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides real, dedicated mobile broadband. To ensure AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) are putting coverage and capacity where first responders need it
most, the FirstNet build is being done with direct feedback from state and public safety officials. This helps ensure Minnesota first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. A new FirstNet cell site near Lewiston in southeastern Minnesota was also announced today. Other FirstNet sites already launched in Minnesota communities include Bagley, Blackduck, Graceville, Grygla, Isabella, Finlayson, and Williams.
What are the benefits to first responders? Building upon AT&T’s current and planned investments in Minnesota, we’re actively extending the reach of FirstNet to give agencies large and small the reliable, unthrottled connectivity and modern communications tools they need.
These sites were constructed using Band 14 spectrum, as well as AT&T commercial spectrum.
Band 14 is nationwide, high quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. We look at Band 14 as public safety’s VIP lane. In an emergency, this band – or lane –can be cleared and locked just for FirstNet subscribers. That means only those on the FirstNet
network will be able to access Band 14 spectrum, further elevating their connected experience
and emergency response. Band 14 has been added on more than 450 existing sites across Minnesota, including markets such as the Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester, the Iron Range, St. Cloud and the Brainerd/Baxter area.

How does this help northeastern Minnesota residents? This new infrastructure will also help
improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in northeastern Minnesota near Cloquet and near Hovland along the North Shore. Residents, visitors and businesses can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when capacity is available.

Another reason for ubiquitous broadband: adherence to Open Meeting Laws

The Pine Journal reports

The Barnum School Board was recently found to be in violation of the Minnesota Open Meeting Law under a chapter of the state statute, which does not allow for public bodies to hold in-person meetings while limiting public attendance to electronic monitoring.

This finding, as cited in an April 19 opinion by Minnesota Department of Administration Commissioner Alice Roberts-Davis, has led to new guidance issued by the Minnesota School Board Association regarding meetings during a pandemic.

The new guidance states that school board meetings should either be held in person — without restrictions on public attendance — or held completely virtually.

If everyone had equal access to broadband this would be less of an issue…

Krampf explained that the public has not had equal access to all meetings during the pandemic, citing the lack of broadband internet available in Carlton County.

Last week, the Minnesota Department of Administration issued an advisory opinion to the district, citing violations of the open meeting law by the board on Sept. 22, 2020, Nov. 24, 2020, Jan. 5, 2021, and Jan. 26, 2021.

“The School Board did not comply with the OML when a quorum of the public body held in-person meetings … while the public was limited to remote attendance,” the opinion read.

According to Superintendent Mike McNulty, the decision to livestream meetings was made out of concern for public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. He explained that the board room is a small space and does not allow for large groups of people to remain socially distanced.

MN Report on Automated Vehicles mentioned 10 year investment in fiber

Transportation Today reports on the Minnesota Gov’s Advisory Council on Connected and Automated Vehicles 2020 annual report…

The Minnesota Governor’s Advisory Council on Connected and Automated Vehicles said in its annual report Monday that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the state was able to move forward toward readiness for Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV).

Also…

The report noted that the state was able to test new cellular vehicle communications technologies that connect snowplows and avoid collisions by preventing red-light running. Additionally, the Advisory Council completed a 10-year investment plan for fiberoptic cable that will support CAVs and broadband and conducted the nation’s largest CAV survey to determine the attitudes Minnesotans’ have about CAVs.

I was interested in the 10-year investment in fiber so I checked out the report. Here’s what I was able to find…

  • Fiber and broadband: MnDOT, MnIT and Department of Employment and Economic Development are completing a 10-year investment plan for fiber optic that supports CAVs and broadband. The state also met with the private telecommunications industry to understand their broadband expansion goals and learn how to partner in future pilots.
  • Connectivity & Work Zone Safety: The FHWA granted Minnesota funding to test connected vehicle work zone safety applications. With the FCC ruling, the state is also looking into new cellular connected vehicle technologies, including those being piloted in Ramsey County in Roseville. DEED, MnIT and MnDOT are also partnering to deploy fiber and broadband in key areas of the state to advance CAV and rural connectivity goals.

I remember that MnDOT, MnIT and DEED had a broadband commission a few years ago that, as far as I knew, did not have public meetings. I don’t know if they are still around and I think it only included the commissions of each department. I also don’t know much about the 10 year investment in fiber and I wonder why the MN Broadband Task Force doesn’t factor that into the plans to get everyone connected.

OPPORTUNITY: Government Experience Awards Call for Entries

From Center for Digital Government (CDG) …

The Center for Digital Government (CDG) invites nominations for its Government Experience Awards, where we celebrate achievements and learn best practices from U.S. state, counties, cities, and federal agencies. We will recognize entities that have gone beyond simply using the web to radically improve upon the experience of government and are pushing the boundaries of how services are delivered.

Nomination Deadline: Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Overall Experience Awards Nomination Form CLICK HERE
Overall Awards recognize the entire jurisdiction’s citizen/customer experience efforts. All U.S. state, county and city governments (includes townships and villages) may nominate their jurisdictions’ user experience in the overall categories of State Government; County Government, or City Government.

Project Experience Awards Nomination Form CLICK HERE

Project Awards recognize single-focus areas which may include more than one method of engagement such as mobile, web and social media, etc.
U.S. state and local governments, their individual agencies/departments, and U.S. federal agencies/departments may nominate their projects for the Project Experience Awards. A government may submit nominations for both the Overall award and for more than one project (nominate each project separately). The nominator/primary respondent must be a government official or staff.

A government may submit nominations for both the Overall award and for more than one project (nominate each project separately). The nominator/primary respondent must be a government official or staff.

FAQs: Use the Frequently Asked Questions to access both contests and the downloadable Word copy of the nomination form; and for more information including full input instructions.

Awards Event Sept. 15: Top government jurisdictions, agencies and departments will be featured in a virtual Experience Academy and will be honored at a high-energy, celebratory virtual awards. Winners will be featured in Government Technology and other publications.

CDG thanks our corporate members Accenture, Adobe, Amazon Web Services, Crown Castle, Dell Technologies, EasyVote, HP Inc., Infor, McAfee, Medallia, Microsoft, NIC, Oracle, Pure Storage, ServiceNow, SHI, Spectrum Enterprise, Team Dynamics, Verizon Enterprise Solutions, and Yubico.

If you have any questions, please contact Janet Grenslitt, Director of Surveys and Awards, jgrenslitt@centerdigitalgov.com.

Blandin Broadband Lunch Smart Cities & Broadband Day on the Hill video and notes

Oh what a day, MN Broadband Day on the Hill, Lunch Bunch and a Senate meeting starting in 15 minutes. So my notes are brief.

We celebrated the Day on the Hill with many of the participants who joined us immediately after. Folks in the lunch bunch who were not at the Day on the Hill has questions about policies (or grant stipulations) that might consider affordability and access (skills to use and get) to broadband as well as availability. The grants do consider access but it was fun to think about how that could happen more. We talked a bit about national activities. Then we heard from the folks at Smart North about what makes a smart city and how does one getting started.

Lot of questions on starting with street lights. For example, in a rural are where moving to smart street lights won’t save a huge amount of money – does it still make sense? It does because with smart lights you can “value stack” other features like the ability to adjust the light or use the light pole as a wifi (or even 5G) hub. We even touched upon these being the building blocks to get to autonomous vehicles. A few of us kept on the call and one attendee (David Asp) that we might start calling smart technology “how to use technology to make life easier” maybe to make it sounds easier.

Here’s the original description of the sessions:

Join to talk about smart tactics for cities, suburbs and town. I’m excited to have a few experts from Smart North join us.  Smart North is a coalition of public, private, civic, education, and entrepreneurial individuals and organizations looking to drive Smart City initiatives throughout Minnesota. (They are looking for partners, especially in rural areas!)

A few weeks ago, I got a chance to talk to founders Sabina Saksena (CytiLife), Ben Wallace (Minify Energy) and Thomas Fisher (U of M School of Architecture College of Design). You can watch the video for a quick take on what they do – from autonomous cars, big data and energy!

Also Wednesday is Broadband Day on the Hill, which ends just as we start. I’m hoping/expecting a few of folks to hop on over to let us how it went and maybe we can celebrate lifting broadband in the eyes of the legislature.

And you can view the chat: Continue reading