Going deep with telehealth application to get medical supplies Where they need to go

Broadband Breakfast reports on a recent Amazon Web Services webinar that highlights Minnesota…

Emily Ward, state planning director for emergency preparedness and response at the Minnesota Department of Health, detailed ways in which the healthcare sector leveraged and repurposed the city’s cloud services in response to the pandemic.

The department’s information technology sector developed two applications to assist in getting medical supplies to those in need, called POD PreCheck and POD Locator.

PODs, or point(s) of dispensing, are community locations at which state and local agencies dispense medical materials and medications to the public.

POD PreCheck allowed clients to prescreen their conditions electronically, which assisted the Minnesota Department of Health in delivering the best medication to consumers with speed and efficiency, reducing wait times.

POD Locator is a dynamic mapping application that shows the locations of PODs on a searchable map and provides any site-specific instructions.

“The scalability offered by the cloud was the most desirable feature,” said Ward. “This app will still work if more than 5 million users try to access it.”

“It is Important that it remains stable,” she added.

EVENT Sep 10: UMN Extension’s Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference

I remember attending the UMN Extension’s Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference last year and being very impressed. The event is being moved online. SO even easier to access and the lineup looks good…

The 2020 Conference will be held online on September 10.

To register for the conference please use this link. The cost is $20 per participant.

To stay informed about updates please sign up here!

Tentative Agenda

9:00 am   Keynote Panel –founder stories from Launch Minnesota regions

9:40 am  Break

9:45 am  Breakout sessions

Minnesota Indigenous Business Alliance- Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Indian Country

Min-Corps- Online Training Resources for Entrepreneurs in Minnesota

Office of the Comptroller of Currency- Rural Broadband Development

10:20 am Break

10:25 am Breakout networking mixer

10:40 am Break

10:45 am Breakout sessions

Launch Minnesota’s Regional Hubs – Panel on Developing an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem across Minnesota

HACER- Workshop on HACER’s Entrepreneurship Program

Speaker 3 to be confirmed

11:25 am Break

11:30 am Keynote – Andrea Stordahl- The story of Minnesota Rust

12:30 pm Closing

EVENT July 21: Broadband Roundtable on Minnesota Rural Mental Health and Telehealth

Bill Coleman, the regular roundtable host, is on vacation July 21 and so I will be hosting a conversation on rural mental health going online. A look at how individuals and communities are weathering the storm of pandemic and civil unrest with help from remote mental health services. What’s working, what’s not and what’s the role of broadband?
We have a few experts ready to share what they know:

  • Mark Jones, MRHA Executive Director
  • Sue Aberholdeint, NAMI Minnesota Executive Director & MRHA Board member
  • Teri Fritsma, lead research scientist, MDH Health Workforce Planning and Analysis

You can register for this and future Roundtables here.

For more information, or to share ideas for future Roundtable starter topics, contact Mary Magnuson at memagnuson@blandinfoundation.org.

EVENTS July 15-29: A series for nonprofits from NetSquared chapters across the US now happening online

One of rare silver linings of the world today, is that distance is no long an issue if you have adequate broadband! (Subsequently without broadband you are likely falling farther and farther behind.)  Here are some opportunities for nonprofits. I used to attend a lot of the local events – so a pro tip, these can be instructive for small businesses too. The folks who present and attend are very generous with their expertise…

Find community and learn with us online. These free tech for nonprofit conversations are hosted by NetSquared chapter leaders and our parent charity TechSoup.

NetSquared chapter leaders and our parent charity TechSoup.

Broadband Roundtable on 5G archive

Today, Brian Pickering of Nokia shared a interesting and digestible presentation on 5G wireless during the Blandin Broadband Leadership Roundtable.  Brian is the VP of 5G Product Sales North America for Nokia.  Brian is responsible for creation and implementation of the 5G sales strategy as well as business development in North America.

Brian outlined the three legs of the 5G stool that combine low latency, high reliability, capacity and connectivity:

  • Extreme mobile broadband with greater than 10 Gbps peak data rates with 100 Mbps available whenever needed
  • Critical machine communication
  • Massive machine communication

Critically important to understanding 5G is knowing how radio spectrum impacts performance.  He described that as the frequency increases, data rates go up and coverage area goes down.  The lower frequencies, like 600 MHz are used by TMobile to deliver broadband in rural areas across a wide area.  The higher frequencies, also known as millimeter wave, in the 24-28 GHz range, are primarily for stadiums, factories, etc.  South Korea and other countries are making strong use of the 3.5 GHz frequencies which is a sweet spot for capacity and range.  The US is in the process of making this available via auction for future use.  Brian’s slides clearly show how different spectrum impacts coverage and business strategy.

Brian highlighted the current and future applications where 5G’s greatest potential will be realized.  Machine to machine communication and virtual and augmented reality are two important applications.  Watch the webinar here:  Download the slides here

Next week, Ann Treacy will host a conversation on Rural Mental Health and Telehealth with local experts from MN Rural Health Association, NAMI MInnesota and MN Department of Health. (More info soon.)

5G articles from Paul Weirtz

Some good pushback on the 5G/Coronavirus conspiracy theories:

5G – Here are a couple of articles helping to debunk the “Coronavirus is caused by 5G”.  I think the media has actually been very helpful with all of this: 

Online chat: Continue reading

EVENT July 14: The Future of Telehealth (online)

Happening today at 11:20 CST…

A virtual event on how new technology is disrupting the health care space. We will unpack how telehealth is facilitating public and private health care — with COVID-19 upending priorities in medical care, understanding these developments has become even more critical.

Axios Co-founder Mike Allen and Health Care Reporter Caitlin Owens will host one-on-one conversations with:

Ajit Pai
Chairman, Federal Communications Commission

Mario Schlosser
Co-founder & CEO, Oscar Health
Axios Co-founder & CEO Jim VandeHei will host a View from the Top segment with:
Zach Reitano
Co-founder & CEO, Ro

Register or learn more.

EVENT July 14: Broadband Roundtable on 5G

An invitation from the Blandin Foundation

Join Blandin Foundation on Zoom Tuesday morning at 9:00 am for our weekly Broadband Roundtable conversation. This week we will talk about 5G with guest expert, Brian Pickering. Brian is Nokia’s Vice President of 5G Product Sales North America. This is a great opportunity to learn about how 5G technologies and services might impact your community’s broadband services and the way that your residents, organizations and businesses use technology.

You can register for this and future Roundtables here

For more information, or to share ideas for future Roundtable starter topics, contact Mary Magnuson at memagnuson@blandinfoundation.org.

EVENT July 15: Cyberinfrastructure: Moving Beyond Broadband at HBCUs and TCUs

From the folks at BroadbandUSA…

Topic: Cyberinfrastructure: Moving Beyond Broadband at HBCUs and TCUs

Date:   Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Time:  2:00 to 3:30 p.m. ET

Overview: Cyberinfrastructure differs from traditional web and broadband access in its focus and magnitude. The high-performance computing and networking resources of cyberinfrastructure enables educators, scientists and students opportunities to create and collaborate in entirely new ways—experiencing processes and results even if the technologies and data sets are thousands of miles away.  Many institutions of higher education are engaged in this new kind of scholarly inquiry and education, empowering their communities to innovate and to revolutionize what they do, how they do it, and who participates.   Broadband, though necessary, is not sufficient for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) to be competitive in the 21st Century.   Please join BroadbandUSA’s webinar on July 15, 2020 to hear from panelists who will highlight the cyberinfrastructure at HBCUs and TCUs, as well as the importance of partnerships with national organizations such as Internet2 and EDUCAUSE in achieving the common goals of diversity and inclusion.

Please note: This webinar will run from 2:00 to 3:30 EDT.


  • Jason Arviso, Director of IT, Navajo Technical University
  • Curtis Bradlee, Interim Director of University Computing and Information Technology Systems (UCITS), South Carolina State University
  • Deborah F. Dent, CIO, Division of Information Technology, Jackson State University
  • Al Kuslikis, American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC)



  • Dr. Francine Alkisswani, Broadband Communication Specialist, NTIA
  • Dr. Tonya Smith-Jackson, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, NC A&T

Please pre-register for the webinar using this registration link.   After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Want to access past Practical Broadband Conversations webinars? Visit our webinar archives for past presentations, transcripts and audio recordings.


Who are we?

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the principal advisor to the administration on telecommunications and information policy issues.  NTIA, through its BroadbandUSA program, works to further the deployment and use of broadband and other technologies across America.

What does BroadbandUSA do?

BroadbandUSA serves as a trusted and neutral strategic advisor, working with federal, state and local government, community, and industry leaders working to advance smart community and broadband public-private partnerships designed to attract new employers, create quality jobs, improve educational opportunities, increase health outcomes and advance public safety.  Check out the BroadbandUSA website for more information.

Blandin Broadband Leadership Roundtable on Minnesota’s Children Press archive

Anne Brataas, director of the Minnesota’s Children Press and other enterprises, was our guest presenter.  She described how she is active in the Grand Marais community empowering kids age 5-15 with technology and communications skills around community messaging.  There is a strong focus on entrepreneurship so that kids develop both skills and attitude to achieve economic self-sufficiency.  Most recently, the kids have been creating messaging around community health during the pandemic for residents and visitors to Grand Marais.  Using marketing strategies borrowed from Burma Shave, they find sign sponsors, create the verbiage, and make and install the signs.  Profits go to community projects like a new cover for the practice rolling log at the YMCA or a new sun shield at a local park.

The discussion included active conversation about the current pressures on local newspapers, many of which are cutting the number of papers published per week, including the Duluth paper.  Becky Lourie noted that many of the articles in her very local papers in northern Pine and Carlton County are written by citizen journalists.  We also talked about the ability of local media, especially with active youth involvement, to address the gaps of information around local history, including a focus on indigenous people and other people of color.  Anne calls this “whole history.”  Finally, we had an active social justice discussion on the uneven impact of the pandemic on people based on race and economic status.

Next Tuesday, July 14 at 9 am, we will talk about 5G.  Brian Pickering will be our guest expert.  Brian is Nokia’s Vice President of 5G Product Sales North America.  This is a great opportunity to learn about how 5G technologies and services might impact your community’s broadband services and the way that your residents, organizations and businesses use technology. (See slides.)

Webinar chat: Continue reading

EVENT July 7: Broadband Roundtable on innovative options for local media

An invitation from the Blandin Foundation…

Join Blandin Foundation on Zoom Tuesday morning at 9:00 am for our weekly Broadband Roundtable conversation. This week, Anne Brataas of Grand Marais will share her passion for local media, especially that which is created by young people. Anne is active in The Story Laboratory and the Minnesota Children’s Press. With the current challenges faced by traditional local press, this session will be incredibly interesting. Bring your thoughts and ideas.

You can register for this and future Roundtables here

For more information, or to share ideas for future Roundtable starter topics, contact Mary Magnuson at memagnuson@blandinfoundation.org.

Save the month of October: Fall Broadband Conference is morphing into Broadband 2020: Connected We Stand

Interesting times require innovative solutions! And that’s why I’m genuinely excited to tell folks about the First Ever Blandin Broadband Virtual Dispersed Conference. I’m on the planning team; and while I love the annual get-togethers, it might be fair to say I was most enthusiastic about creating somethign new this year. I am so excited!!

The world is in flux and broadband seems to be at the center of it. The COVID-19 pandemic and guidelines on social distancing are creating the need and opportunity to do things differently, often with an online element. Meanwhile, the internet and social media are allowing people from all over the world in real time to witness and participate first-hand in the movement to end racial inequities in Minnesota and nationwide.

From telework to distance learning to keeping in touch with family and friends; from citizen journalism to starting a movement online; one thing is certain – access to broadband and the skills to use it is more important than ever.

So the conference planning team has decided to lean in, to take advantage of the technology we’ve been promoting for so long to meet the educational, professional, and civic needs of the attendees and hopefully demonstrate new ways to work and meet that you can bring back to your community.

What does this mean? Picture a month of broadband Sundays. (Not really, but sort of!)

The conference will be entirely virtual – but that doesn’t mean just a series of online lectures. We have created different opportunities for discussion, interaction and collaboration and a few traditional presentations to happen over the course of four weeks. Here’s a rough outline: (More to share later!)

  • Week 1 (Oct 5-8): three mornings of “in real time” online events including speakers and small group discussion
  • Weeks 2 and 3 (Oct 9-26): customized programming based on your level of involvement and interest with special sessions, a chance to pilot future programming, a book club, regular online space just to chat, mentor match-making with host of local and national experts arranged by the planning team, a virtual happy hour. You choose your level of involvement. No expectations – only opportunities.
  • Week 4 (Oct 27-29): mirroring the first with three mornings of “in real time” online events including speakers and small group discussion.

We’ll group folks in cohorts so you won’t need to feel like you’re traversing the terrain alone. And we’re lining up speakers to include experts, practitioners and researchers who know broadband infrastructure, policy and digital equity. I am so excited about the speakers we have – but I’ll build up some suspense now. Just let you know what’s coming.

Please let me know if you have any questions. This is the 16th conference.  We’re all pretty used to the “regular way” and this year will be different in the same way kindergarten roundup is different from college drop off. Still very cool – but new.

Broadband Roundtable on small-scale economic development strategies Archive

In today’s Blandin Broadband Leadership Roundtable, Ann Treacy and Molly Solberg, each a social media wizard, shared how they work with local businesses to expand and improve their online marketing efforts resulting in increased sales.  The theme today was Small Scale Economic Development Strategies.  Through a combination of training, networking events and one-on-one technical assistance, they work with businesses to implement social media strategies.

They help the businesses establish goals, determine the most effective set of social media platforms and do the necessary work.  Molly noted her use of customized step-by-step powerpoint checklists that help to establish a disciplined approach that help a business stay on course.  Bud Stone of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce noted the importance and the difficulty of a sustained effort.  Ann Treacy said that she sometimes works to develop long-term community capacity by training a local person while assisting small businesses.  Communities need to consider small business technology mentoring as a core business retention and expansion strategy.  The benefits can be large, especially if the community can develop a core set of tech-savvy small businesses.  Thanks to Ann and Molly for sharing!

EVENT June 30: Broadband Roundtable on small-scale economic development strategies

A message from Blandin…

Join Blandin Foundation on Zoom Tuesday morning at 9:00 am for our weekly Broadband Roundtable conversation. This week, we will focus on small-scale economic development strategies perfect for any size community or neighborhood.

You can register for this and future Roundtables here

MN Broadband Task Force June 2020 notes: Microsofts Airband and Jonathan Chambers broadband investment maps

Today the Task Force heard from Microsoft Airband about their offerings. They noted that they were looking for broadband provider partners that are innovative. They also mentioned they weren’t as interested in fiber, but clearly not against it either. Then the Task Force heard from former FCC member, Jonathan who mentioned maps that showed public investment by county and talked about the need to focus on future proof network (or prepare to pay for upgrades).

They also heard from the subgroups:

Barriers to Technology Task Force Sub Group

Looking at

  • Funding
  • Affordability
  • Pandemic highlights affordability
  • Mapping
  • Permitting & easements


  • Speed goals – equity between rural/urban; Aim for 2026 speed goals 100/20
  • Dig Once
  • Understand advances in technology
  • Cyber security

Minnesota Model Subgroup


  • Mapping – want to stay with current, not supporting anything new but maybe offer an RFP for mapping in 2021
  • Distribution of funds: look at geographic areas? Prioritize unserved areas
  • $30 million annually in base funding – need to include funding for OBD. Needs to be put into GOvernor’s budget
  • Get Brent Christensen to talk about process for getting funding as a company to prevent double dipping (getting state and fed money)
  • What should the report look like? Do we need a full report – or maybe just a letter

Economic Development and Digital Inclusion Subgroup


  • OBD be funding to create an operating fund that includes digital equity work
  • Telecommunication Equity Aid – fully fund by raising funding cap to $9 million
  • Stand up a computer recycling programs for the State

Here’s the agenda for the day:

  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.  Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from May 20, 2020 Meeting
  • 10:10 a.m. – 10:40 a.m.  Microsoft Airband – Aimee Sprung, Airband US, Director of Strategic Partnerships
  • 10:40 a.m. – 11:25 a.m.   Rural Electric Provision of Broadband and FCC Rural Digital Opportunities Fund Auction Jonathan Chambers, Conexon
  • 11:25 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.  Break
  • 11:30a.m. – 11:45 a.m.  Report out by Minnesota Model Subgroup (Chair: Brian Krambeer; Members: Steve Fenske, Theresa Sunde, Paul Weirtz)
  • 11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  Report out by Barriers and Technology Subgroup (Co-Chairs: Marc Johnson, Dave Wolf; Members: Nolan Cauthen, Steve Giorgi, Jim Weikum)

Broadband Roundtable on telehealth response to the Covid-19 Archive

Today’s Blandin Broadband Leadership Roundtable was extremely interesting with very active attendee participation.  This is just what we were hoping for when we decided to host these topical conversations.  We really benefitted from active health care provider participation from Bois Forte Band, Tri-County Health and GPTrac.  We learned that many road blocks – regulatory, payment and human behavior barriers disappeared with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was fun to watch a couple short videos – one from the US Surgeon General and one from themedicalfuturist.com.  The first video gave a nice overview of the emergence of tele-medicine during the pandemic; the second video showed how big data and high-tech tools are being used to track the virus and develop responses to it.  You can find the links to the roundtable discussion and support materials at broadband.blandinfoundation.org under the webinar banner.

Next week, July 1, we will focus on small-scale economic development strategies perfect for any size community or neighborhood.  Join us at 9 am.  Register online.

Here’s the chat from the session: Continue reading