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/.

Broadband facilitates deeper civic engagement in Minneapolis

Minneapolis is working on their comprehensive plan – called 2040. The process is on their website – the how and the do.

I’m sharing this for two reasons. If you’re in Minneapolis and think technology is important, now is a good time to visit and let them know it’s a priority to you.

For folks outside of Minneapolis, I think this is a slick way to encourage deeper civic engagement from the comfort of the residents own home.

The website is a hub for instructions on how to participate and the results of the participation. Here’s the beak down from their site…

Make your voice heard by participating in the Minneapolis 2040 planning process both online and in person.

Sign up for Updates

Stay up to speed with regular updates via email.

Civic Engagement Overview

This overview outlines why civic engagement is important to the plan, who will be engaged, how it will happen, and when you can get involved.

Events Calendar

A list of upcoming opportunities to participate in shaping the future of Minneapolis.

Past Events

Documentation of what happened at previous Minneapolis 2040 engagement opportunities.
See also the Phase 1 Engagement Summary


Would you like to host your own conversation and provide feedback on the comprehensive plan? Download your kit today, and tell us your vision for the future of Minneapolis!

Follow us on Twitter!

When there is new information to share, we’ll tweet it.

Contact Us

Have a question or comment? Feel free to contact us.

The materials are all there – might be a good time to check it out to see if that might work in your community.

Three keys to Digital Inclusion plans in US Cities

The Benton Foundation recently published results of work they’ve been doing related to helping cities reduce barriers to digital inclusion – aside from funding.

They came with three key recommendations…

Based on our preliminary examination of the digital equity plans created by the cities of Austin, Portland, and Seattle, and through our own interviews with local policymakers, we offer these recommendations to federal policymakers, local governments, and other key stakeholders interested in creating effective digital equity plans:

  • Local governments should employ a central planning and coordination office with legitimate authority to facilitate digital equity planning.

  • Local planners should ensure that traditionally-excluded groups are included in digital equity planning.

  • Local decision-makers should use research from a variety of sources to inform digital equity planning.

What grade does MN government get for digital? B+

Government Technology recently released the results of their 2016 Digital States Survey. Minnesota gets a B+. Here’s what they say…

State: Minnesota
2016 grade: B+
2014 grade: B+
CIO: Tom Baden
To Sum it up: Minnesota’s No. 1 priority when it comes to IT is the development of a strategic cybersecurity plan, with executive support evidenced by Gov. Mark Dayton’s $46 million 2016 budget request. In addition to security upgrades at key agencies, the IT office has developed a Breach Response and Notification manual that aligns with the NIST framework to define roles in the event of a breach and encourage agency-level preparation. The IT agency, MN.IT, also tests preparedness with tabletop events aimed at agency partners. Planning for the Internet of Things is driving some of the security conversation, as the state positions itself to securely manage its ever-growing data inventory. The state has some impressive stats to back up its commitment to a smaller footprint, reducing its data center count from 49 to 29 in the past two years and virtualizing 80 percent of its servers. Minnesota’s move toward a hybrid cloud model will allow it to make the most of existing infrastructure while shifting to as-a-service options on a case-by-case basis when the benefits justify the switch. Another significant accomplishment from Minnesota since the last survey is its GenTax integrated tax system, which brings together all tax functions and offers Web-based filing and processing services for citizens. An online audit room enables taxpayers to interact and share information directly with auditors. The audit room’s first iteration used an off-the-shelf product, but additional functionality is being added continuously using in-house teams. The state has upped its transparency game too, adding an Open Checkbook feature to its website to expose detailed financial information.

B+ is pretty good – but it’s always nice to know what the curve looks like. Here’s what Gov Tech says about the – seems like we’re well above average…

No states received a D or F, and just eight states landed in the C grade range. A growing number of states fill out the top of the curve compared to surveys past — 20 states earned a grade of B+ or higher, and a whopping 10 states earned an A or A-.

Dakota County noted for “collaborate intensely and dig once” strategy

State Tech Magazine recently ran an article that talks about creative ways county officials can extend the network – even in tough terrain. They talk about Alaska’s approach to extending their network with high tower sites and microwave. Minnesota also gets a nod for good work in Minnesota…

No one has used this so-called “collaborate intensely and dig once” strategy better than Dakota County, Minn. This 562-square-mile area is home to 11 cities, but also an expansive swath of rustic countryside and open farmland bordered by the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers.

Over the past several years, the county’s IT team, led by Network Collaboration Engineer David Asp, has put in place a lightning-fast, 353-mile redundant fiber network connecting 450 sites, including county agencies, parks, schools, first responders, traffic signals and utilities. The network has saved the county nearly $20 million — what it would have otherwise paid to phone and internet providers.

Asp notes that the county has been extremely creative and thorough in its resourcefulness.

“I look at everything from the county’s interest and figure out how we can make that overlap or coincide with the interests of others,” he says. “Whenever I plan a network route through rural areas, I get out a map and figure how I can take it past, for example, a National Guard unit, a school, a power substation or traffic signals.”

By doing that, Asp and his team can leverage existing infrastructure, qualify for federal or state funds, or partner with other organizations. As an example, the tiny town of Farmington had long ago installed conduit and 12 strands of fiber to its school. Asp and his team offered to replace that infrastructure with 144 fiber strands in exchange for right-of-way access and use of extra-capacity fiber.

“That allowed us to then tie into another neighboring community,” Asp says, noting that he and his team made a $1.25 million bulk purchase of fiber at a 25 percent discount that enables these types of trades. “Then we go in, use our expertise, leverage federal grants that we get for hooking up traffic signals, build out the entire community with fiber optics and then lease that back to the local government for their critical services.”

Using broadband boosts offline civic engagement in rural areas

The Daily Yonder recently posted an article on the research of Brian Whitacre and Jacob Manlove on the impact of broadband on civic engagement. What they found was that people who used broadband were more engaged in civic life. It wasn’t enough to simply have broadband available or have access at anchor tenants. People needed to use broadband to see the increase.

Here’s a chart that details the actions that increase based on Adoption (using broadband), Access (availability of broadband) and CAI (access in anchor institutions)…


I have been in many conversations with people about the social impact of technology. I’ve been at the dinner table where all of us were on our phones. I’ve been in situations where I “talked” more to a kid overseas than when she’s at home. It’s fun to see that research indicates that the impact of using broadband is beneficial to civic life.

I couldn’t resist sharing the following clip from the IT Crowd on the impact of “Friendface” in their office – again nice to see that people who are active online continue to be active offline.

Grow2Gig+ Webinar Series Sep 22: The First Steps in Creating a Broadband Plan

Wanted to share info on an upcoming SHLB webinar series to help community anchor institutions gear up for better broadband…

We’re very excited to announce the beginning of our Grow2Gig+ webinar series! Over the next five months, we’ll be exploring different ways to help schools, libraries, health clinics, and other anchor institutions Grow2Gig+ speeds, starting with The First Steps in Creating a Broadband Plan. Follow the hashtags #Grow2Gig and #BroadbandPlan for tips and information. Also, feel free to tweet your own stories and questions.

This month, we’ll be covering the necessary steps cities and states need to create a broadband plan with the paper “Broadband Needs Assessment and Planning for Community Anchor Institutions.” Then we’ll discuss the more technical aspects anchor institutions need to know about WiFi and Wireless connections to prepare a broadband plan with the paper “WiFi and Wireless Networking for Community Anchor Institutions.”

This month we are kicking off the Grow2Gig+ Webinar Series! The first webinar will be held:

September 22, 2016
11 am – 12 pm EST

It will be moderated by John Windhausen (SHLB Coalition) and feature Kelleigh Cole (Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development) and Jeff Campbell (Cisco). Space is limited so register now!

Have a question you’d like answered during the webinar? Email or tweet it to us @SHLBCoalition.