Opportunities for Bipartisan Tech Policy Event Jan 15: in DC and online in St Paul

Next Century Cities is hosting an event in DC. It will also be made available online. AND the Blandin Foundation is going to host a remote viewing party in St Paul.

Here’s info on the event in DC…

Location: Google’s DC Office, 25 Massachusetts Avenue NW #900, Washington, DC 20001

Register now to join Next Century Cities, the American Action Forum, and Public Knowledge for a bipartisan discussion about tech policy priorities for the new Congress in Washington, DC from 8:30am-12:30pm on January 15, 2019.

Opportunities for Bipartisan Tech Policy will be a half day event bringing together members of Congress, community leaders, and policy experts. Keynote conversations and panel discussions will work to determine key policy goals and action steps for the new Congress, with a specific focus on rural broadband and digital privacy legislation.

Please register for the event here. We look forward to seeing you at this important discussion!

And info on participating in St Paul…

Blandin Foundation and the League of Minnesota Cities will be hosting an opportunity to participate virtually in a tech policy discussion being hosted that morning at Google’s DC headquarters by Next Century Cities, Public Knowledge, and the American Action Forum.

Blandin and LMC are inviting interested Minnesotans to come together for a shared viewing and discussion of the meeting proceedings.  We will gather in a room at the LMC offices.  Further details about the event will be forthcoming in the new year.

Please RSVP if you’re interested!

I will absolutely post more info when I get it. We’re working on creating ties with what’s happening on a national level and how that impacts MN and how MN impact the national scene.

Broadband bubbles up as top policy goal by Thriving by Design attendees

Last week I wrote about the Thriving by Design conference. Hosted by Growth & Justice and One Minnesota, this meeting was part of a process to find out what are the top policy concerns and hopes for Minnesota residents. It was very interactive session where we looked at priorities and policy intersections – or policies that had an impact of other policy concerns. It was fascinating.

Spoiler alert: broadband came out on top. I won’t go into the value of the numbers but broadband had top priority and interconnectedness scores. Not necessarily the top for either – but combined, it was the top. (And I did not tip the scales!)

I remember being in the room in the nascent days of the Minnesota Broadband Coalition. Many organizations were interested enough to join the meeting but when asked to rank their top policy concern, broadband came up second, third or farther down the line. So it’s interesting to see how the Thriving by Design team has been able to quantify and embrace the interconnectedness as part of its importance.

Broadband is problem for those who don’t have it – and an answer to many questions for those who do. Having broadband solves more than the issue or not having it, it opens the door to better opportunities for education, healthcare, civic engagement and economic development. It is a priority because of its interconnectedness.

To learn more mark your calendar for January 14, that’s the morning Thriving by Design will hold a press conference at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Also – and only because someone asked while I was there. There was distribution of rural/urban/suburban folks in the room. Not everyone left a zip code – but for those who did here’s the break down:

  • 22 from urban areas (TCs)
  • 5 from suburban areas (most around TCs)
  • 7 from large towns (think Mankato)
  • 11 from rural areas (4 from New London!)

Blue Earth County Board talks about expanding broadband

The Mankato Free Press reports

The Blue Earth County Board already has a New Year’s Resolution: kickstart efforts to bring more broadband options and data fiber connections to the area.

Commissioner Vance Stuehrenberg called on county officials Tuesday to lay the groundwork for a future public-private data fiber partnership as recent data show Blue Earth County is lagging in internet connectivity.

Stuehrenberg said during a board meeting Tuesday he was concerned only about 14 percent of the county was equipped to handle at least 100 mpbs download speeds and 20 mbps upload speeds. While almost all of Blue Earth County’s internet options meet the state’s immediate high-speed goals — at least 25 mbps downloads and 3 mbps uploads by 2022 — Stuehrenberg and other commissioners believe the county needs to have better internet access if it wants to continue growing and attracting more economic development.

“It’s kind of disheartening to hear that in Mankato and Blue Earth County, we don’t have the same ability to get internet service as some of those smaller communities,” Stuehrenberg said.

I applaud the forward-looking vision. They are brainstorming some ways to make it happen…

Stuehrenberg suggested future highway reconstruction projects include installing fiber to help offset connection costs in rural areas. Yet he and other commissioners said it will ultimately be up to area internet providers to use and maintain fiber networks.

The county finished installing fiber infrastructure around Mankato and nearby cities over the last two years, according to County Administrator Bob Meyer. He said county officials have been in preliminary talks with internet providers to expand broadband access throughout the county.

Thriving by Design attendees are finding connections to broadband

I’m doing something a little different today. I’m at the Growth & Justice Thriving by Design conference. The goal of the conference is to finesse a plan for the future to hand to Governor Walz. The process started last summer when 100 or more people from around Minnesota gather to talk about shared problems, shared goals and potential solutions.

We started the day talking about equity blueprint problem statements:

  • Human Potential (green)
  • Economic Development (blue)
  • Physical Infrastructure (red)
  • Environment & Natural Resources (yellow)
  • Democracy & Civic Engagement (white dot)

Each problem was then divided into sub-statements – including broadband as a sub-statement under Physical Infrastructure. Attendees had an opportunity to create connections among the statements. It was done visually so that you placed a colored dot (representing the statements above) next to the sub-statement that connected with it. It sounds confusing and I may have more to report tomorrow when the conference continues but for now I think it’s interesting to see that broadband was a magnet for many attendees. I was one of the top draws.

Digital Learning Day 2019 is Feb 28

On February 28, 2019, teachers and students from around the country will participate in this nationwide celebration highlighting great teaching and demonstrating how technology can improve student outcomes. There is a map that highlights projects that are happening in the US.

Here’s more info on the event from the website…

With so many new types of digital devices, educational software and mobile apps continuously developed, it’s hard to keep up with the latest and greatest advancements in educational technology. In some classrooms and out-of-school programs across the country, educators are doing some pretty amazing things with technology. Yet, these pockets of innovation are confined to a small number of schools and communities. Digital Learning Day was started as a way to actively spread innovative practices and ensure that all youth have access to high-quality digital learning opportunities no matter where they live.

Started in 2012, Digital Learning Day has provided a powerful venue for education leaders to highlight great teaching practice and showcase innovative teachers, leaders, and instructional technology programs that are improving student outcomes. This grassroots effort blossomed into a massive nationwide celebration as teachers realized that Digital Learning Day is not about technology, it’s about learning. It’s not about laying off teachers for laptops, it’s about enhancing the role of the teacher in America’s classrooms. Digital Learning Day promotes the effective use of modern day tools afforded to every other industry to improve the learning experience in K-12 public schools

Four MN communities launch into better broadband with the IRBC

A couple weeks ago, I shared the announcement of the four new IRBC (Iron Range Broadband Communities). They will be working with the Blandin Foundation broadband team to better use broadband locally to help build demand and build the communities. Today they met to launch the programs and I was on hand. The day is an introduction to the program – they will create a team, vision and plan over the next few months. That will culminate into grant proposals and they will spend 18 months deploying, assessing and iterating plans.

They also talk about what success of the program would mean to them. I was lucky enough to attend the session and record those goals. My favorite line (a little misquoted) is – our community is at a crossroad. We could be terrible or great. Broadband will make us great.

And one community was kind enough to meet for a follow up:

It will be fun to watch their projects progress.

Final MN Broadband Task Force meeting Dec 6

Sorry for the late notice – but the last MN Broadband Task Force meeting in Dec 6

Here’s the info:

Administration Building
Room 116B (first floor, off main lobby)
50 Sherburne Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55155

  • 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
  • 10:15 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. – Introductions, approval of minutes, public comments
  • 10:20 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. – Update from Office of Broadband Development
  • 10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.  – Sen. Eric Pratt, Chair, Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Policy and Finance Committee & Rep. Tim Mahoney, Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division (Invited)
  • 11:00 a.m. – 1:45 a.m. – Final Comments/Thoughts from Task Force Members
  • 11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.  – Joanna Dornfeld, Chief of Staff, Governor Mark Dayton
  • 12:15 p.m. – Adjourn

Task Force members are invited to attend lunch hosted by the MHTA at the Downtowner Woodfire Grill, 253 West 7th Street, St. Paul, MN 55102 following the meeting.