Inaugural Tribal Broadband Summit: emphasizing the role of librarians

I was lucky enough to participate in the first Tribal Broadband Summit. I haven’t been able to take my usual notes – because I’ve been giving a few presentations but I’m happy to share the high level view.

Tribal lands are in desperate shape for broadband access – and it can be a matter or life and death. We’ve heard stories of people not getting medical attention because of lack of infrastructure. (Really phones – but as you can imagine, no phones means no internet.)

There are a few reservations that are in better shape – thanks to some heavy lifting by awesome champions. I’m always impressed with the champions of deployment who go from knowing nothing about broadband to knowing every nuance – because they have to. It’s like me learning how to build a car – just so I can drive it.

People recognize that a hybrid network (wired-wireless) is probably the best way to go to reach some people in remote locations. But in the same breathe people recognize the impact of weather and other forces on wireless technology. (There are a few folks from Alaska here.)

Attendees are interested in broadband use. Libraries are key players – both in use and deployment. People have been creative with white spaces and e-rate.

FCC Chair Pai spoke on the first day. He announced a new program to get spectrum to tribal areas…

One new policy I’m particularly excited about will give Tribes priority access to spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band. This band is the largest contiguous block of spectrum below 3 GHz in the United States. But today, this valuable spectrum currently isn’t used in most of the Western United States. That’s partly because technological advances have rendered the band’s original intended uses outdated, and partly because arcane rules have left it dramatically underused. So this summer, the FCC took action. We removed obsolete restrictions on this band, allowing greater flexibility in how the spectrum can be used. But here’s the big news you’ll want to know about: We’re giving rural Indian tribes an exclusive window to obtain this spectrum to serve rural Tribal lands. That’s right. Before any commercial auction of this spectrum, Tribes can obtain this spectrum for free. This is the first time in the FCC’s history that we have ever given Tribal entities what we call a “priority window” to obtain spectrum for wireless broadband. I’m proud that it is happening under my watch, and I hope that Tribes will take advantage of it.

Head of Dep of Education Betsy DeVos spoke about the value of broadband and importance of government getting out of the way of better broadband.  Many other government officials in the room proudly spoke about the support they have given to get broadband and broadband programming onto tribal lands. For example the Institute for Museums and Library Services has awarded over $60 million in 15 years for grants invested in library tribal services – for online archiving, digital inclusion, online storytelling.

I learned about MLab – a cool tool to help track and map broadband use and services.

And I tried to talk up the Minnesota Broadband model. Here are the presentations…

Two MN State websites are hacked and defaced

The St Paul Pioneer Press reports…

A hacker or hackers early this week defaced two Minnesota government web pages, defacing them with anti-government images or messages, officials confirmed Wednesday.

State information technology officials will continue to investigate, but as of Wednesday, they said they had no reason to believe any sensitive information was compromised. The effort was more akin to Internet vandalism analogous to graffiti tagging in the real world, as opposed to a true “breach” involving theft, according to officials with MNIT, the state’s IT agency.

The two pages targeted were in the realm of the Department of Human Services. While the pages are technically public, they’re only used by government workers, and there’s no evidence anyone from the public viewed the content, officials said.

One of the pages is used by local workers to report to DHS how much time they administering state programs, while the other is connected to the refugee services. However, officials don’t believe the attack was connected to refugee or immigration issues — or even DHS or Minnesota as a whole.

Broadband conversation: FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel speaks with Senator Tina Smith

It’s a quick and easy inspirational listen or read. Listening to how Senator Smith got into politics is inspiring to anyone; listening to how she appreciates the needs for better broadband maps – that’s likely to be more inspiring to a more select group.

Here’s the description from the FCC site…

Minnesota Senator Tina Smith is a community organizer, entrepreneur, and a policymaker. In this episode of Broadband Conversations, listeners will hear her describe her path to the US Senate, which started as a community volunteer when she knocked on doors with her two children and a stroller in tow. She went on to serving in local government, including a stint as Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota, before her current role on Capitol Hill. As a US Senator, she’s used her platform to fight for universal, affordable broadband coverage. As Senator Smith says in the episode, we should not take internet access for granted. She points out that when hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans do not have online access to jobs, education, and economic growth, families and communities are left behind.

Telehealth helps better serve rural Veterans

The US Department for Veteran Affairs reports…

Approximately a quarter of all Veterans in the United States live in rural areas. Air Force Veteran Bill Nelson is one of them. As the survivor of three heart attacks, he’s a big fan of one particular VA office and their telehealth program.

The job of VA’s Office of Rural Health (ORH) is to increase access to care for the nearly three million Veterans living in rural communities who rely on VA for health care. As VA’s lead advocate for rural Veterans, ORH works to see that America’s Veterans thrive in rural communities.

Nelson benefits from ORH’s remote home-based delivery of cardiac rehabilitation which uses telehealth to eliminate the need for rural Veterans to travel multiple times a week to a rehabilitation facility. It lets Veterans tailor the location and schedule of their rehab session from their home.

Nelson lives in Maple Grove, which may not be the most rural town I mention this week, but it would be a long drive to the VA hospital in the Cities. It would easily save him an hour drive each remote visit…

In addition to his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam, he had a separated shoulder surgically repaired in Okinawa. He is 100 percent disabled due to his service-connected injuries.

Nelson suffered his first heart attack in 1999 which required having stents implanted. He joined VA for healthcare after retirement in 2014. His second heart attack occurred in 2008 which required having more stints implanted. His had his third heart attack in 2018 and had even more stints implanted.

Today, ORH enables Veteran patients like Nelson to first meet in-person with a specialist to safely learn rehabilitation exercises, with subsequent sessions conducted at home.

Regularly scheduled phone calls with the rehabilitation specialist are used to review risk factors, such as smoking cessation and proper nutrition. Other discussions include exercise, medication adherence, and stress management


Election cybersecurity legislative hearing HF14 – nothing decided

Today the Conference Committee hearing on  HF14 (SF93), a bill to authorize the Secretary of State to spend federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding on election cybersecurity, heard from Noah Praetz, Former Director of Cook County Elections in Illinois and an Adjunct Professor at DePaul University College College of Law teaching Election Law. He testified on his experience with Cook County when the Illinois voter registration database was breached by the Russian government.

It was interesting to hear about the risks of online voting. Minnesota was one of four states that experienced an attempted attack in 2016. And Minnesota is the only state that hasn’t spent any of the allotted HAVA funds.

It doesn’t relate to broadband infrastructure but it does relate to innovation, smart cities (counties, states, country), digital equity and use of technology and policy.

You can watch the video

Or read my rough notes below… Continue reading

Government Experience Awards 2019 Call for Entries – Deadline May 2

It would be fun to see Minnesota sweep the awards…

The Center for Digital Government invites nominations for its Government Experience Awards, taking digital government awards to the next level, where we will celebrate achievements and learn best practices from jurisdictions and organizations that have gone to the web and beyond to radically improve upon the experience of government, and push the boundaries of how services are delivered!

Award information and Nomination Form:
Click Here or visit

Submission Deadline: Thursday, May 2, 2019

All U.S. governments, agencies and departments are invited to nominate their overall user experience as well as single-focus projects/initiatives (free of charge).

Overall Experience Awards
All U.S. state, county and city governments, and U.S. federal agencies/departments may nominate their jurisdictions’ user experience for the Overall Experience Awards.

Award categories:
State Government
County Government
City Government

Project Experience Awards
U.S. state, local, and federal government individual agencies and departments may nominate their projects for the Project Experience Awards.

Award categories:

Entries may be submitted for the following areas (multiple areas per submission are allowed this year):


If you have any questions, please contact Janet Grenslitt, Director of Surveys and Awards,

SF93 Help America Vote Act & cyber security info session MN Senate meeting

Technology touches everything we do – learn, earn, stay healthy, entertain ourselves and vote. Tonight we are listening to the importance of increasing security for voting. The state realized there were attempts in 2016 to compromise our elections. They were unsuccessful but we were one of 21 states with issues. (Two states were compromised.) We were able with the help of the Democracy Fund and Microsoft to secure voting for the 2018 elections. But now we need to work for a long term solution.

We have had a Task Force. We have been working with various vendors. Next step will be a proof of concept – to test run any potential solution. We need to know funding is available before we go too far with that.

Now there is a bill (SF93) looking for almost $7 million to improve the security of the elections.

Here are the handouts:
The committee recessed at 2:40 pm, and reconvened at pm.
S.F. 93
Help America Vote Act transfers and appropriations.

And notes from the session – but to following along with the video I might look at the detailed EAC Letter (PDF) above:

  • We will also look at issues surrounding RFP, which could take a couple of months. But there may be a vendor that already has a contract with the state.
  • Can’t we borrow from other states? Or do we need a unique application? There are some similarities and some differences.
  • Several state have funded a position (cyber navigator) to help counties and local governments work on their local security.
  • What’s really important here is that we have a holistic solution that is more than catching intruders but prevention and greater knowledge of our systems is important.

Testifiers: Sen Howe

  • I ran for Sec of State because MN hasn’t done a good job with elections
  • We need to make sure that ineligible people can’t vote (and eligible people can)
  • Also there should be greater access to voter datasets