New Next Century Cities Toolkit Supports Census 2020 Outreach

From Next Century Cities…

Local Kiosk Programs Help Ensure That Every Resident Is Counted
Washington, DC (December 18, 2019) — Next Century Cities has released a new resource to support municipalities’ outreach efforts around the 2020 census. ​The 2020 Census Kiosk Toolkit​ is a guide and resource bank to help communities easily implement census kiosk programs to encourage online census responses and ensure that all residents are counted.
An accurate census count is vitally important. Census data is used to make decisions about social services like schools and public transportation, to ensure fair Congressional representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, to direct billions of dollars in federal and state funding, and more. As the 2020 census is the first to be conducted primarily online, this toolkit specifically addresses the challenges of reaching populations that may not have reliable access to the internet or internet connected devices.
The 2020 Census Kiosk Toolkit includes a detailed guide to setting up a kiosk program based on efforts in the City and County of Los Angeles and Santa Clara County, California. A kiosk can be any public device dedicated to providing a means for individuals to complete the census online and made available in an accessible space, often through partnerships with community organizations. These devices, paired with active outreach and community engagement, are key to making sure no one is excluded from the U.S. Census Bureau’s first primarily online data collection.
“Those who do not have reliable internet access are often the same members of our communities who have been historically underrepresented in other ways, and an online census creates the risk of compounding these inequities among our most vulnerable populations,” said Cat Blake, Next Century Cities’ Senior Program Manager. “Local governments are leading the way toward ensuring all are counted.”
Find the ​2020 Census Kiosk Toolkit​ here: https://nextcenturycities.org/census-kiosk-toolkit/

No more County-wide 911 outages in Lake County

Lake Superior News reports Cook County’s Interim Administrator, Rena Roger’s 2019 highlights…

2019 saw two long term initiatives/issues finally resolved:

  • The County and the Forest service completed the BWCAW Land Exchange, a reflection of extensive work by our Attorney and Assessor’s Offices, GIS analyst, and others.
  • 911 Service redundancy was finally achieved through a partnership with CenturyLink, The Northeast Service Cooperative, True North Broadband, and the State of Minnesota, assisted by Cook County MIS, the Sheriff’s Office, and Emergency Management. The result: no more County-wide 911 outages!

Will your county get paper Census surveys?

The Census folks recently released a map of area that will receive paper copies of the census – along with an invitation to complete the form online. I think it’s interesting because these are the areas that the Census folks are least likely to respond online…

More info from Census 2020

The interactive map illustrates the contact strategy to inform the public and partners of the Census Bureau’s plan to count everyone by geographic location for the 2020 Census. A decade of research and testing has determined the best way to invite everyone to respond to the 2020 Census.

Most households will first receive a letter asking them to complete the census questionnaire online with information about how to respond online or by phone in English plus 12 non-English languages. Areas less likely to respond online, approximately 21.8% of households, will receive a paper questionnaire along with the invitation to respond online or over the phone. Areas assigned to receive a paper questionnaire first have a low self-response rate to the Census Bureau’s ongoing American Community Survey (ACS), and have either low internet response rates, high population over age 65, or low rate of internet subscriptions.

Neela Mollgaard focuses on capital, culture and talent at Launch Minnesota

It’s always fun to see a friend in the news – for doing well. Neeela Mollgaard, former head of Red Wing Ignite, was involved in the Blandin Broadband Communities program for Red Wing and was on the MN Broadband Task Force. So she’s pretty well known with the Blandin broadband team. I was delighted to see her move to Launch Minnesota; Neela was recently highlighted in Finance and Commerce

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced in August that Neela Mollgaard, founder of the Red Wing Ignite entrepreneurship group, is the inaugural leader for Launch Minnesota. A public-private partnership created by the Legislature this year, Launch Minnesota offers grants, mentorship resources and other assistance to the end of making Minnesota a top-five state for startups.

They asked questions about her background…

Q: You came here from Red Wing Ignite. What led you to start that program, and what did you do there?

A: I was really fortunate to be part of a small grassroots effort back in 2012. Our city had gigabit broadband, and we had just received a 2012 National Partnership with US Ignite, which is a nonprofit that was funded by the White House and the National Science Foundation. I worked for about a year as a volunteer, trying to bring the vision to reality, and then in 2013, I threw my name in the hat to lead that organization. We created Red Wing Ignite as a model really for rural innovation, and feel proud that it has received national attention.

And her future…

Q: As you’re standing up this new program, what are some of your goals in the first year?

A: Our three goals that I’m focusing on are capital, culture and talent. For capital, I want to increase access to capital through grants and private investors. We’ve just launched our innovation grants to increase capital to startups, and then also working to increase private investors with the angel tax credits and other ways. Regarding our talent, our goal is to provide education to increase the knowledge needed to start and scale startups in Minnesota.

Then the third goal is really trying to foster a collaborative culture to simplify the navigation of resources to save our startups time, which is a valuable resource. We want to make sure that startups know where they can go to plug in when they have an idea, and on that whole roadmap from idea to launch, what organizations and individuals are there to help them along the way.

Tekne Awards – the Oscars of MN Tech world – lots of winners & good advice

Last night I was lucky enough to attend the 2019 Tekne Awards. I brought my 15 year old, who is interested in STEM. It was fun to watch it from her eyes. She was excited to hear about what each company was doing and even more interested in hearing about the undergraduate scholarships. Great to see the lineup of recipients with diversity of age, gender, ethnicity. Some were first generation college attendees (and first generation Americans), some were parents, some looked same age as my daughter. But you could see the impact of the funding and the prestige of an MHTA scholarship.

Phil Soran graciously received a lifetime award for his entrepreneurship and generosity. He had advice for the room. For entrepreneurs he said – focus on go-to market. For established businesses he said – make room and opportunity for the up and comers. To everyone he sad – strive. Two public servants received awards – Steve Grove at the Department of Employment and Economic Development and Senator Eric Pratt. These awards emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships in all facets of technology, economic development and education.

I want to give a special congratulations to PCs for People for their award. They have been long time partners with the Blandin Foundation on many projects. Lots of first-time computer owners in rural Minnesota can thank PCs for People and the Blandin Foundation and that’s where entrepreneurship starts – with a computer at home, whether it’s selling your art on Etsy or, like Mr Soran, building a billion dollar business in your basement!

Because in MN we can all be winners (or at least finalists), here’s the list of possible winners going into last night…

Categories and finalists for the 2019 Tekne Awards are: Continue reading

New FirstNet Cell Site to Support Public Safety in Northwestern Minnesota near White Earth Reservation and Surrounding Community

Big news from AT&T…

New Infrastructure will Improve Connectivity for Tribal First Responders, Expand Rural Broadband Access for Tribal Community

BAGLEY, Minn., Nov. 14, 2019 – First responders in northwestern Minnesota and those serving the White Earth Reservation are getting a major boost in their access to broadband communications with the addition of a new, purpose-built cell site. The site – located between the White Earth Reservation and Itasca State Park – is part of the FirstNet network expansion taking place in Minnesota, which is bringing increased coverage, capacity and capability to first responders across the state. Additionally, the new FirstNet site will give first responders access to the fastest overall network experience.1

FirstNet is the nationwide, wireless communications platform dedicated to America’s first responders and Public Safety community. Backed by Congress, it’s designed to strengthen and modernize Public Safety communications, helping first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. FirstNet is for all first responders – whether rural, tribal, urban or suburban. That’s why extending the FirstNet network in rural, tribal and remote parts of America is a top priority.

This site is located in Zerkel near the intersection of State Highway 92 and State Highway 200, and to the east of the White Earth Reservation. Public safety stakeholders identified this location as a prime spot for increased network coverage and capacity to better support emergency communications. The site will help improve coverage along the eastern edge of the White Earth Reservation.

“Minnesota’s first responders deserve reliable coverage across the state to help them effectively and efficiently address emergency situations. And with FirstNet, that’s exactly what they are getting,” said Paul Weirtz, president, AT&T Minnesota. “We couldn’t be more pleased to support the public safety mission and bring the state’s first responders – and residents – greater access to the connectivity they need.”

This is the first new FirstNet site to be publicly announced in Minnesota following the State of Minnesota’s decision to advance the state’s Public Safety broadband communications with FirstNet. It was constructed using Band 14 spectrum, as well as AT&T commercial spectrum bands. Additional new FirstNet sites are underway, and Band 14 has been and is actively being added to existing sites across Minnesota. Band 14 is nationwide, high-quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. It provides public safety with a dedicated lane of connectivity when needed.

FirstNet is built with AT&T* in a public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) – an independent agency within the federal government. To ensure AT&T and the 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.

“FirstNet is a dedicated broadband network for Public Safety, by Public Safety,” said Jeff Bratcher, Chief Technology and Operations Officer, FirstNet Authority. “The FirstNet Authority worked hand-in-hand with Minnesota’s public safety community to understand their needs for the network. And this cell site is a prime example of how that input and feedback is becoming reality. We look forward to supporting White Earth first responders’ use of FirstNet to help them save lives and protect their community.”

In addition to further elevating Public Safety’s connected experience in support of their emergency response, the new site will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in the area. Communities can take advantage of the AT&T spectrum bands, as well as Band 14 when additional capacity is available.

For more about the value FirstNet is bringing to public safety, check out FirstNet.com.

1Based on AT&T analysis of Ookla® Speedtest Intelligence® data average download speeds for Q2 2019. Ookla trademarks used under license and reprinted with permission.

2“‘Indian tribe’ means any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community, including any Alaska Native village or regional or village corporation as defined in or established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (85 Stat. 688) [43 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq.], which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians.” 25 U.S.C. § 5304(e) (formerly cited as 25 U.S.C. § 450(b))

About the First Responder Network Authority

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Chartered in 2012, its mission is to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of the nationwide, broadband network that equips first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities. Learn more at FirstNet.gov/mediakit and follow the FirstNet Authority (@FirstNetGov) on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

 

Census 2020 available online, by phone, by mail to all areas

I love when people ask me questions about Census 2020, because at heart, I am a librarian. The Sun Patriot (which covers Waconia, Watertown, Mayer, Norwood Young America, Cologne) recently posted about the importance of the Census…

Next March 13-14, every household in the nation is supposed to receive either a postcard or a paper form from the U.S. Census Bureau. About a fifth will ignore it, but all of us will be affected by each individual’s decision.

Most people know that under the U.S. Constitution, the federal government has to count the number of people living in each state so that it can divide up the seats for the U.S. House of Representatives. What most Minnesotans don’t know is that next year, most people will be asked to respond electronically, either through their computer or phone. Only those areas that have low broadband access will receive a paper form.

Paper forms will be available in English and Spanish only. People can respond online or by phone in Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Tagalog and Vietnamese. Interestingly, Somali and Hmong, languages spoken by a significant number of Minnesotans, are not included.

I wanted to follow up on the availability of paper forms. According to the Census website

By April 1, 2020, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. You will have three options for responding:

  • Online.
  • By phone.
  • By mail.

The 2020 Census marks the first time you’ll have the option to respond online. You can even respond on your mobile device.

To be fair, online would be easiest for most of us with adequate broadband but it looks like the option is there for everyone. Anyone with limited broadband and limited English or Spanish skills would need to go online or telephone for support for the languages listed above.