Broadband Conference 2007: Community Transformation via Portals

Official description from agenda:

Track II: Technology – The Infrastructure, The Applications
Suite 2
Community Transformation via Portals
Projects are underway throughout Minnesota to help connect people online to their local communities through online citizen engagement and citizen media. A panel of participants in Blandin Foundation’s Get Broadband grants program will talk about their plans, their hopes and their experiences to date.
Panelists: Jill Klinger, Mankato, Sheila Howk, New Ulm, Bill Carlson, Moose Lake, Maggie Montgomery, KAXE
Moderator: Bill Coleman, Community Technology Advisors

Notes from the session. I think I will be able to follow up with their PowerPoint presentations soon. I don’t have them yet – but I think I will soon (by soon I mean tomorrow or next week). Continue reading

Broadband Conference 2007: The Infrastructure, The Applications

The description from the official agenda:

Track II: Technology – The Infrastructure, The Applications
Suite 2
Community Transformation via Broadband Applications
Hear first hand about new projects underway to deliver to rural Minnesota the broadband promise. A panel of awardees from Blandin Foundation’s Light Speed grants program will talk about their plans, their hopes and their experiences to date.
Panel: Light Speed Grantees
Panelists: Peter Royer; Hutchinson, Pat Wickham ; Lakewood Hospital, Staples, Peter Walsh; Winona, Tom Riordan; Windom
Moderator: Geoff Daily; Assistant Editor, Killer Apps
Get descriptions of the LightSpeed programs:

What are you going to do with the money?

PW: Money will go to purchases telemedicine unit we need. Want to reimburse folks for in-home care.

TR: We are creating an Internet-ready classroom. The infrastructure is there in the city. One of the first classes will be meteorology. It’s a unique offering and potentially could become a money maker for the school.

Kids will get homework from on-call teachers via web conference in the off hours. Money will go to cameras and equipment needed to facilitate

Setting up a Mass Media class and need the technology required for that. The class will capture school events and publish on the community video server.

PR: We do online learning. We offer Mandarin Chinese – so we’re buying an IP-VCR to allow kids to access the curriculum at the right time. But when you’re working with people all over the world the timing can be an issue. Also now we can record the activities to archive them.

PW: Working on fiber to the household (FTTH) through Hiawatha Broadband. This will provide the infrastructure to allow for a wide range of applications. This will open the door to new ventures – staff training, more communication, videoconferencing with our clients and among clients.

Plan to do video health with local clinic. Plan for visits from social worker through work with the county. Electronic filing system is another project.

The second phase will be train the trainer implementation.

How important is broadband to get communities to connect?

PW: High speed is critical. Access to bandwidth and money were barriers. Blandin match has helped with training.

PR: The speed of the network has gone from 100Mbit to a Gig. And we’re not there yet – but it’s nice to have it. It’s like garage space – once you have it, you use it. School to school connections are nice because they are faster than connecting via Internet.

TR: Broadband is a vital piece to going into the future – especially to keep a small rural community alive. We have a lot of bandwidth and now we want to use it.

PW: We worked with U of M on a telemedicine project but it was first generation – it was too slow to use. Greater broadband will make these tools usable.

What are the other challenges?

PR: Getting people to understand that the technology will get used is tough. Sometimes the supply comes before the demand. But now people understand that they don’t have to get in the car to meet.

PW: MPR interviewed us (Digital Divide) and at that time 50 percent of use of broadband was determined by an age barrier. SO, teaching folks how to use it and why to use it was a challenge.

What marketing have you done?

PW: Not much, we’re already very busy. Get 10-20 customers a month and there is a waiting list. But we know we’ll have to market at some point. Right now we’re a little cheaper than the incumbent.

How are patients reacting to the technology?

PW: A few years ago with the old telemedicine – the customers were wary and it wasn’t very successful. But with the baby boomers people are expecting the hospital to have telemedicine options and glad to participate.

The patients get a telemedicine unit (on loan) – not really a computer. They get virtual visits – not a huge amount of training is required.

What do you think of the current state of applications? Are applications ready to go – or is it still in development?

PW: We have a hard time finding applications. So we invent them. Getting initial buy in as been a challenge. Getting people when they can use the technology soon is key. You learn when there is an urgency.

PR: A lot of the applications are there but the teachers don’t necessarily think it’s easy to use. We went through a technology in the curriculum push – and some folks have taken to it easier than others. The teachers who are users are the best to convince others.

TR: The pieces are there – it’s just a matter of putting it all together. There is a wireless provider in Windom that can provide access for the kids at home – so many kids have the infrastructure and home and homework helpers can also answer email.

PW: The more technology makes life easier or better the easier it is to sell and it’s just a matter getting them to use it.

What’s the role of school librarians?

PR: Some of our trainers were librarians.

TR: Our librarian has not been involved. We only have one and he is very busy.

What can other areas do to promote broadband? Any advice?

TR: We have city council meetings on cable. The next step is to have them live online so that people can ask questions online. It would help get people involved.

PW: Call you senator to get senate funding. We want it for telemedicine and we need contact legislators to sustain it. Medicare doesn’t reimburse for telemedicine. Some/many others do reimburse.

PR: We participate in Internet2 – they signed up to watch the knee replacement online. We need to pay $35,000 to belong to Internet2 – the state wouldn’t it pay for it so a bunch of schools got to get together to get the money – without state help. But we need to get money from the state.

Any info on best practices?

PW: Rural TeleHealth Center is out there with info on QIO that works between homecare providers and medicare.

GD: These programs really highlight the ability of the Internet to bring the community together not just bring outside resources in.

Broadband Conference 2007: Mike O’Connor Determining Project Feasibility

Description from Agenda:

Track III: Considering the Business
Suite 3
Determining Project Feasibility
Mike O’Connor; President, O’Connor Company
Success requires starting with the end in mind. Get an insider scoop on understanding the decision-making process; conducting and interpreting market studies; and developing a successful design, costing and financial modeling processes.

Notes from the Session:

During the session we filled out the following chart: 


The problem we have is complicated. We try to solve it at once – but it’s too big. We need to divide the problem into smaller chunks. Engineers do this – and solve similar problems in similar ways to avoid mistakes that already happened and to build upon the method that’s there.

Needs Assessment should be quick and cheap and give a good assessment of need. Then you can decide if it’s worth it to carry on.

Feasibility study is like Needs Assessment – but not really. Feasibility can get you into projects that are too big or too small – it doesn’t address the issue of need. It really fits in between the Requirements Definition and Procure or Design stages. Or even better – it makes sense to be a feasibility study after each stage on an ongoing basis.

Breaking this big project into chunks makes it easier to manage cost and time expectations. Blandin can help foster this methodology. Communities would benefit from example deliverables, examples phases – estimating guidelines.

One of the tasks of regional broadband group is to crease a history of broadband projects to help to communities learn from other projects.

Timelines are very important.

Broadband Conference 2007: David Russell Wireline Broadband Technologies

David Russell was good enough to share his PowerPoint presentation (Wireline Broadband Technologies) with me in advance so I am posting it online. Because I had his PPT, I was able to attend another session during this breakout time.

Broadband Conference 2007: Tim Nulty & Tobey Johnson

Here are notes from this morning’s events.

Started with a welcome from Bernadine Joselyn

People need ultra high speed connections to work. Location is no longer the mantra – now it’s connectivity, connectivity, connectivity… The Blandin Foundation recognizes the shift supports locally led efforts to build broadband.

The strategy board has a vision for broadband:

Big challenges require collaborative solutions. We need to get started – the world is not waiting for us.

Then we went on to a great discussion on OANs

Description from the official agenda:

Panel Discussion: Understanding Open Access Networks
Panelists: Tobey Johnson; Manager of Collaborative Solutions, PacketFront, Tim Nulty; Bulington Telecom
Moderator: Steve Kelly, Director, Center for Science, Technology and Public Policy, Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota
Learn how open access networks can increase the economic development impact of telecommunications investment

And on with the notes… Continue reading