April 17, 2007

SENSEable City Lab, MIT

presented by Assaf Biderman abider@mit.edu
Senseable City MIT website

What can we do with a wireless network, besides just accessing the web? Turns out, a whole darn lot! Computational devices are everywhere in the city, from the cell phone in your pocket, the streetlight on the corner, the laptop in your office. Imagine connecting these devices, and those of all urban dwellers, under a massive blanket network.

Interconnecting these mobile computational devices can result in direct implications for planning of city infrastructure and resource allocation. Visualizations of human traffic via cell phone use, for example, reveals information about people use a city.

One such concept
An adaptable bus stop:
How can we implement wifi networks? Urban furniture! Produced in one place, and planted in the city. Enhance the blanket of interconnected, computation nodes.


This enables site specific design, customized by city planners over a prototype model; localized versions based on local data. Amazing customization at a low production cost…only 20% over mass production.

Custom bus stops make travel easier for the user. The traveller connect two points on the map, the computer draws a line, tells you the route, the stops, the connections, the time to arrival, etc. this is existing technology but applied in a new way to enhance public transportation.

Also, take advantage of the bus stop as a public space. US is notably lacking in this aspect…few public plazas or urban parks. Here now is a place where you may post announcements, flyers, exchange relevant community information, a community water-cooler for conversation and information sharing. Includes bluetooth connectivity to download and upload information.

ispots

Interactive map of mobile users.

Connecting Communities

Steve Dietz, yProductions
When fused with art and design, technology can connect communities in a way otherwise unimaginable, as long as city infrastructure is people and city based. The ZeroOne festival in San Jose is a way to showcase the city as well as position it as an enjoyable, desirable place to live. As well as presenting the interactive and digital work of numerous artists, it hosted a forum with global representatives showcasing emerging digital installations or city design pieces. The free city-wide wireless service that was in place in San Jose allowed for this creative integration of artistic endeavors and designed experiences to occur. Overall, the festival (and other similar installations) serves to connect people and foster experiences that make individuals feel like an integral part, rather than a passive outside observer, of the resulting piece. [Zero One Festival]

Brad Hokanson, College of Design, University of Minnesota

Looking at wireless coffee shops can inform how this technology will be used and accessed when it goes citywide. Looking at wireless coffee shops can inform how this technology will be used and accessed when it is available citywide. As it turns out, research of local urban and rural coffee shops in the Twin Cities and the surrounding area reveals that people are less interested in the availability of wi-fi at the coffee shop and more interested in getting a change of scenery or being ‘alone in public’. Of those surveyed and interviewed, all had access to broadband and although they were bringing their laptops to the coffee shop, were not always using them. Along with other trends seen from observation and research, it can be implied that coffee shops are quickly becoming another commercialized public space and will likely be only moderately (if at all) impacted by the implementation of a city-wide wi-fi service.

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Pedagogy and Technology

Christine Greenhow, Digital Media Center, OIT, University of Minnesota

Bridging pedagogy (which comes from Greek “to lead the child?) with technology (the art and science of applying knowledge to problem solving) poses a new question: how can both teachers and learners succeed in technology-enhanced environments? An important answer lies in the ability to look at technology as both a means and a method for improving education through the access and distribution of information. Research into students’ comfort with technology reveals they are open and willing to its use, but still expect teachers to deliver content. In order to best shift from teacher-centric to learner-centric we can use wireless and/or internet technologies to create a resource-rich classroom.
[ The Math Forum at Drexel University ]

Aaron Doering, Learning Technologies, University of Minnesota [Adventure Learning][ Polar Husky web site -- free login required] ]

GoNorth, is an innovative, adventure-based learning initiative bridges students, teachers, and experts as a model for information sharing, learning, and access. Through the use of technology, the artic adventures become a comprehensive, interactive experience. The sense of immediacy is enhanced by the ability to deliver content to students across the world within 24 hours of its occurrence. GoNorth is an example of learning that extends beyond the classroom, and allows students to feel a part of the experience, the adventure, and excited to tune in for the information and updates. As a part of enhancing this experience, Aaron and his team continually seek to make improvements, especially by connecting directly with K-12 educators and students to find out what is working and what could be improved. The resources that are being developed and update include inquiry-based instruction methods and collaboration zones for students.

Mary McNabb, Learning Gauge, Inc.

Although the technology is available, many teachers are still struggling with integrating this means/method into the classroom and knowing how and when it is an appropriate teaching method. The gap between the “haves? and “have-nots? is apparent and raises questions about how to implement technology in education. Looking specifically at literacy in correlation with Internet technology, there is a disconnect with traditional styles of reading and the “hypertext? nature of the worldwide web. This disparity makes learner differences clear, especially in terms of ability to self-monitor and self-motivate oneself in order to best learn and understand the information that has been read. For these reasons, teachers must be able to not only implement online learning activities, but also monitor, guide, and access these interactions in order for the students to have an optimal experience. [ Million Dollar Homepage ]

Continue reading "Pedagogy and Technology" »

Creating Educational Opportunities

Creating Educational Opportunities with wireless technologies.


Don Shirley Daviess County Schools Owensboro, KY
Commercial broadband supports the local school system with PowerConnect WiFi.

PowerConnect provides commercial Telephony, and Internet services. Community Broadband Solution is a broadband product serving end users with a product similar in speed to cable. Daviess County Public Schools has 100% Internet access in the classrooms and every freshman in high school is provided a laptop with Wi-Fi. The district is moving toward a paperless curriculum in the next five years.

There was a lack of broadband wireless providers in Daviess County. Eighteen months ago when the system was implemented, customers were happy with dial-up. The demand today for broadband has exploded and customers are asking for broadband.

The broadband system at district schools was disconnected from the homes of students. Outside the city limits in the rural areas, Internet connections became non-existent. The challenge was to use school assets to enhance home use by students, and not compete or interfere with commercial services. Network services now perform the same for student at home or at school.

Wide area net mesh network use towers for line of sight transmission and student services are subsidized by the business services. Rural areas are served on the provider-side up to ten miles and on the client side up to four miles. The current challenge is to build a network to grow with demand. Services like IP television will be a standard in the next two years and that delivery will be available on the PowerConnect Network

High speed Internet service 1 Mbps- $17/month. The filtered service allows the school district to control what is offered to the students.

Greg Daigle World Class Teacher Initiative,[ Digital Watershed ]
Discovery based learning can take students outside the classroom using hardware and software to enhance the learning experience. Using global environmental issues as an example, one can illustrate how a cross-disciplinary topic can use these technological tools to enhance learning.
Students can move between the classroom and the garden to study a garden plot. Students test the soil collect data and upload, take and share photos of their plot. Students use templates to collect and house images and data with their classmates. This creates a collaborative scenario using wireless technologies.

Examples of software used for this learning experience include Scratch. Scratch uses a visual organizational model to map and diagram interactive elements and show their relationships.

“What’s the Secret? is a product created by 3M and TPT. “What’s the Secret? is a CD-rom project using science “Edutainment? to engage students. What’s the Secret uses object oriented prolonged play to enhance learning. Science topics are presented with interactive videos sounds printable artifacts. Tools like notepads are integrated into the interface. Digital interactive science experiments allow users to learn about science with a high level of interaction. “Interactoids? are employed to engage users. “Interactoids? are custom gadgets similar to an Apple widgets found in Dashboard. They are highly interactive tools that enhance the fun and the educational topic.


Sharon Balke, Lee Oltmans -- [ Minnesota Online High School ][ Electronic Library of Minnesota ]

A public online public charter school now serves Minnesota students grade 9-12. MN Online High School students can earn a high school diploma online or make up coursework missed in a “bricks-and-mortar? school. MN Online High School provides a personalized interactive learning experience using proven educational strategies. Students with health issues, pregnancy, bullied children, dropouts with a desire to finish their coursework can all attend with out stigma. Social and peer pressures can also be avoided. Others who attend include athletes and artists with demanding practice schedules. Educational options are expanded in rural areas with limited resources.

Rigorous courses get students engaged and excited about learning using online models that are used in colleges and universities. Teachers are encouraged to be innovative in their course delivery. Teachers have a r

Keynote Gary Chapman

Professor Gary Chapman LBJ School of Public Affairs
“Community Wireless Around the World?

Current Chapman links: [ Austin Free-Net ] [ Century 21 project ]

Innovations are being implemented across the world to connect those to the Internet who are not already already online. The distribution of users across places like Africa and Latin America represent the smallest number of current Internet users but also represent the most explosive growth of new users. Where the US has 2% of new users in 2006-2007, India alone represents 33% of new users and China over 20%. These new Internet markets are creating new demand patterns. Wi-Fi “trees? (literally placed in the tree-tops) powered by generators are examples of the infrastructure being installed in remote places like Laos.

New devices like personal Internet Communicators (PIC), One Laptop Per Child , and Intel’s World Ahead Laptop (prototype only) will become important in emerging markets. Extremely small CPU’s designed to run on photovoltaics, car batteries and in environment’s that may be harsh are being developed for these devices are those who make around $1000 per year.

The Arid lands Information Network, implemented in East Africa uses MP3 files distributed to low power radio stations to broadcast educational programming to remote areas. Solar powered [ Green WiFi ]created a solar powered Wi-Fi units with battery back-up for remote areas. Data Mules a “Wi-Fi Pony Express? uses a Wi-Fi box mounted to a motorcycle that visits remote villages deliver downloads and collect uploads that are then driven to a local hub to be delivered to the Internet. [ First Mile Solutions Asynchronous internet connections by motorbike, boat, bus.]

Software innovations are changing the availability of connections in remote areas as well. Icon based software for ULPC units allow users to see what others are doing without language. Ubunto ] is a R and D lab for the developing world that uses a Linux to create open source applications for emerging online markets. [ Sugar Interface ]

A demand driver in Uganda is Voice Over IP where telephones are scarce. Those without mobile phones sometimes need to travel two days to the nearest phone. Voice-over-IP offers a practical way to address the deficiency of telephones in rural areas. Internet access offers other services: agricultural pricing and weather information to rural farming communities; churches are creating small micro-financed banks to finance entrepreneurs in an emerging craft industry. Community radio using small digital recorders turn neighbors into citizen journalists.[ New Economic Plan for African Development ]

Disaster situations in the United States create the need to use technologies seen in the developing world. Katrina refugees in Texas needed infrastructure like medical services and communication services let alone showers. FEMA required that all refugees interact with the administration only through the Internet, so besides hardware and software many refugees needed computer training. As hardware became available to the refugees Findersites to help locate other family members also became available. Peoplefinder International of Beaumont TX, manually crated a database of all those missing worldwide. Solar powered Voice-over IP was also implement in gulf to help refugees connect. The applications used in the developing world also become applicable in the United States.

Banquet Speakers: Milda Hedblom and Craig Rapp

Milda Hedblom is a professor of political science at Augsberg and the Humphrey Institute, and she works extensively as a consultant ‘where innovation happens’. She is currently working with Monticello on broadband access as a municipal utility. Her major challenge, here and elsewhere has been to determine how one connects with the residents and the consumers, where, if the broadband development succeeds, it will develop into a long term community asset. She has been involved with communications technology for a number of years and it has changed significantly; while in her work in Rosemount about ten years ago, they were inventing the map; today it’s much more economical, and with many more options; the technology has changed, been adopted, and is more widespread and needed. Ten years ago, when she was in Geneva with the UN, they were working on a worldwide scale on telecommunications, with the United States, in or near the lead. Few foresaw how rapidly the US would lose it’s pre-eminent position in technology as we see today.

She noted that broadband development must be viewed as a whole, as with understanding the proverbial elephant. First, goals are critical in the implementation of technologies, and can help direct the project effectively. Connecting most efforts is the desire or necessity for economic development.

Implementation has evolved along with the technology; for example, non-profits are frequently playing an important role in broadband development, and newly, municipalities, counties and governments are the “new kids? of wireless/broadband implementation. These commonly have a history of municipal electricity providers, but even those without that history are now working to provide broadband.

There is also increased activity in regional development of services; interlinking short, medium, and long term goals being addressed together, avoiding the problem of reinventing the wheel in every city. Communication between neighboring cities is still uncommon. Counties are now beginning to be directed to provide broadband services.

Broadband development is currently on a two way street; while this conference looks at community input and development, the ‘arrow’ also goes the other way, from the government actions and policies directing changes in use and participation. There have been some efforts [from the private sector] to limit capabilities of governmental organizations to provide broadband/wireless, and right now the greatest legal focus is on the delivery of video; some are proposing statewide video broadband franchising.

Fourth; what about the general public in Minnesota appears to focus on price and moderate speed, as seen both through polls and the Chaska experience. However, this may be changing as a new Minnesota high speed bill put forward by a coalition of users, not providers or specialist policy community; calls for gigabit to every “premise? by 2015, saying this as vital to business. While business can afford very high speed internet access, they note that ‘our employees can’t buy it’, “it? often meaning fiber.

Fiber and broadband are really quite comparable on a number of levels.

Finally, she urged that one keep an eye on the money. For success, what was needed was to find the investment model that will sustain the work, within each political climate. We need a new broadband vision; we need to align the goals; fiber to the home and wireless is not a zero sum game; the community needs to change so it can serve as a migration path, perhaps wireless now and for mobile use, the eventual fiber to the home. Wireless needs to be planned for an upgrade to fiber later.

Craig Rapp noted that his time in local government encompassed a number of telecommunication events, from cable installations and multi-city cable commissions, after which he ran a local gas company; he noted that all this informed his understanding of the adoption of technologies. It is important to develop a clear vision of what you want to do, along with appropriate metrics.

He noted that there are many leaders with great visions, but often the successful ventures are not shared throughout the metro area. If we decide we need it in Minneapolis or Chaska, then move, we should not lose it if we move into a neighboring suburb. We have a history of solving these larger types of problems through common action, through the Met council. Now we see, in broadband/wireless, the potential waste of resources ten years down the road. Even now, many local governments have financial problems; resources will ultimately [and hopefully] force us to cooperate on issues such as broadband.

He noted that we currently have the wrong vision for broadband; he currently sees Minnesota as lagging behind in economic growth. He cited the emergency radio communications system as an example of this successful cooperation. He said what was needed was resources, political will, and vision, and said that someone needed to step forward declaring this as a goal. While we can go along and do individual implementations, what does it take for us to figure out that that is a waste of duplicative efforts, caused by petty economic competition. He argued that we need to be going to ultra-high speed broadband to the home; citing Daniel Pink and Richard Florida. If we don’t have some idea as to where the ball is going to be…

Where we’re going is a wireless, broadband connected whole. That’s what economic competitiveness and a clear goal is all about.

In an economic development context; it is all about providing the basics that an economy needs to run, to allow for private investment. Electricity 100 years ago is what broadband is today. We are heading toward wasteful use of money if we do not plan and implement broadband with clear goals and a coherent vision.


April 16, 2007

Media and Wireless Communities

Peter Fleck, Garrick Van Buren, Jeremy Iggers, and Cristina Lopez look at how the media might be changing as a result of wireless.

Peter Fleck [Peter’s blog] and Garrick V Buren are advocates for access to everyone and everyone to wireless. [ Garrick’s blog]

Garrick Van Buren and Peter Fleck represent “all of the bloggers.? They begin by showing satellite imagery of the earth (Google Earth)—beginning on a global scale, zooming in on the Twin Cities metropolitan area, all the way into Garicks’s house. Garrick argues that blogs allow for very specific regional coverage—garage sales, school board meetings, local crime, etc. These are neighbors talking to neighbors—media for the neighbors by the neighbors in the language of the neighbors. This is the promise of regional wireless.

It’s not just voices talking—it’s conversation. Bloggers blog to each other, they share, they argue, they discuss. But the conversation must include all voices. It’s important to ensure access for everyone. It is Peter’s hope that the internet will eventually become as ubiquitous as the telephone.

Newspaper is now the weblog, TV is now videoblog, the cost is nearly $0, and rather than the media being centralized it is now distributed.

Peter is interested in how wi-fi fosters community. It is the easiest and cheapest way to provide ubiquitous internet connectivity. We don’t have to dig trenches and string wires. One can connect anywhere at anytime with a variety of devices. The Minneapolis wi-fi cloud will allow for Ethernet access, not just wireless antennae.

As far as creating community, the cheaper it is, the more people will be likely to use the network. The cost of the Minneapolis cloud will not only be competitively priced (and cheaper than many services), but will also provided much larger amounts of data to be uploaded—most commercial providers severely limit upload amounts.

Next Peter turns to media—starting with world-wide media like the New York times, then down to local media outlets and blogs. Minneapolis has one of the largest blogging community in the country. Garrick points out that he often gets his news from sources like the New York Times through the lens of local bloggers, who filter, comment on, and discuss the stories. Some local blogs include MNSpeak, Minnesota Monitor, PF Hyper Blog, etc.[ Doc Searles Buzz.MN ]

Place blogging [ Placeblogger [ is “hyper-local,? —citizen media. It’s about voices; each person in the community can have a voice that is heard by the community and beyond. “It’s amazing. It’s unbelievable. It’s scary.?

Jeremy Iggers speaks about The twin Cities Daily Planet. The Daily Planet is now almost one year old. It is a portal for citizen news and media. It is community focused—news that resonates within the community; news the community is not getting anywhere else. [ TCDailyPlanet ]

Jeremy begins by showing a story on the MDP done by MNstories.com one year ago. The inspiration for the MDP was Ohmy News international. [ MNstories New America Media
]

According to Jeremy, American newspapers are in crisis—budget cuts, resources being shifted from urban communities to affluent communities, etc. There is a need for someone or something to fill that void. The MDP tries to fill this role, covering local, community stories from a local angle.

MDP has a number of local media parters: Park Bugle, Southside Pride, The Northeast Beat, and many other local neighborhood media outlets. [Northeast Beat ]

MDP offers citizen journalism training. They have a partnership with Hamline U which sends students from their International Journalism program to work with the MDP. MDP is working to build partnerships with local ethnic media as well. They have news in Hmong, Somali, and Spanish.

Christina Lopez rounds out this part of the conference. Christina is not a media practitioner; her background is in academics. She starts out by talking about some myths of media criticism. Media criticism is not about tearing-down. It is interested in forming theories of media, and discovering how media stories work—the frameworks they create that help us to think.

She decided to look at some print media stories on wireless and some of the myths that are bubbling up. In a story of wireless coffee houses, the reporter observes that the two—coffee and wi-fi—go naturally together. Here there are some myths coming to the surface: that technological advancement is inevitable, and that technology creates the myth of anytime anywhere access. Her issue with this is not that this is a false story that needs to be debunked, but rather that there are some contradictions that need to be resolved: the downside of the “anytime anywhere? access means that the boundaries between work and leisure are becoming blurred. Greater access to information is wonderful, but the downside is that we as workers may now be expected to manage more and more data and to do more with it. These stories don’t mention the downside, as a result they are somewhat Utopian—mythic.
[ Seattle PI article ]

In a second example from Corpus Christi, there were repeated references to the potential users of the network as “consumers.? Uses for the network included shopping and government services. It’s not these activities that she finds disturbing, but the fact that the media is creating an identity that the user should identify with. Consumers are passive—they’re roles are smaller, more limited, than citizens.

In a third example she refers to a story about an initiative to create a wireless network in Harlem, which seeks to empower the community members. But this brings up another myth—that new technologies will regenerate communities. One must be cautious and think critically. How do we define community? Who will participate? This is an immensely complicated issue—communities are not magically created. One must take in to account community groups and existing institutions. It also takes a lot of work to create digital communities. One study on message boards found that 5% of the community was posting 80% of the time. It takes a lot of work to get everyone involved. [ Wireless Harlem]

Finally it’s important to keep in mind the histories of media. For example, when television was introduced, it was seen as a medium with great potential for education and for creating communities. This is no longer seen to be the case. Radio too had a similar romance in it’s early days. Will wireless have a same fate?


Satellite Based Internet Connectivity

Alan Escovitz, Bob Dixon, and Gabe Moulton from Ohio State University presented their work on using satellite based internet connectivity.

AE introduced the work that has focused on Appalachian Ohio. He outlined a case in which rural poor users were significantly less served than were suburban or urban users. Compared broadband penetration among 30 OECD countries between 2000 and 2005. Has the 4th highs level of students who have never used a computer among OECD countries. Income and poverty are the most significant determinants.

They work in the CIO of the University; their efforts are part of the Land Grant mission and they seek “rural datafication? comparable with the rural electrification efforts of the 1930s. There efforts reach both individuals and businesses in the area. The concept of “homesourcing? as a employment reason to stay in the area.


Bob Dixon described the geo-synchronous satellite system used; they install 3 foot satellite dishes in small communities. They donate their time; much equipment is built by Dixon. Access is provided through ADEC for about $350 a month for service. Grants are sought for about $10,000 in hardware costs. Community buy-in is exceptionally important; provide the space for equipment, location for antenna, location for community learning center, etc. They do not serve communities with existing high speed service. Their installations have encouraged private companies to provide service in their earlier sites. He discussed some of the details of installation.

Gabe Moulton Each of the installations are specific to the local community, including connecting with the existing structure. They tested and mapped the entire signal field, for recommendation for antennas for more remote computers. Included with town installation, they have learning centers with donated computers. He also described the hacks they’ve done on common Linksys wireless routers.

Escovitz Said that Ohio is losing participation in higher education, in spite of a larger general population and a larger high school graduate population. This is a key component of the larger educational mission. They partner with other colleges and universities in Ohio for local support. They also work with MindLeaders, a private company with training modules that will be provided free to residents in program areas. Ohio Learning Network will also provide training through the learning center installed with the satellite system.

2005 Carnege-Mellon/MIT study on broadband’s economic impact is consistent with anecdotal evidence from their previous work in Chesterhill, Ohio [finished July 2005]. Employment growth of 1% found, and business activity increases about ½%. [Link active to PDF of research report.]

Their goal is to serve as a model for other land grant institutions; they may be the sole institution that does this nationwide. It also provides a stimulus for the private sector, and improves the quality of life in the affected communities. One of the questions that was raised was of cost and service by satellite provider. Ezscovitz described a transition from first year costs of $4000 to the town per year to a cooperative utility model.

Community Access to Planning

The five speakers addressed different aspects of a community's access to the Internet and specifically WiFi.

Catherine Settanni from Digital Access http://www.digitalaccess.org
catherine@digitalaccess.org

“To communicate in the post-modern society is the power to interact with networks of information.
It is not sufficient to have a free mind, if our words cannot circulate like the words of others.?
--Sergio Amadeu de Silva (e-government director, San Paulo Brazil)

Settanni's message directly addressed the issue of the digital divide, an issue that will not be solved by cheap wireless access. There are issues of computer training, equipment maintenance, and others that prevent access. She stresses the ABCs of digital inclusions — Access, Basic tech literacy skills, Content that the audience wants/needs.

Settanni is part of a volunteer collaboration because of the opportunity to broaden the conversation about wireless access to leverage low-cost wireless access so that digital inclusion is possible.


John Richard, Waite House Neighborhood Center
Sarah Koschinska, Project for Pride in Living

Richard and Koschinska are both engaged with the community on a daily basis through their work, seeing first hand many of the barriers to access. They reiterated Settani's assertion that access, basic computer skills, and content are all components to problems and solutions. Richard foresees potential issues as more content that is needed by consumers goes online as well as employment seeking where 75-80% of applications must be completed online and/or including requirements for an email address.
Richard and Koschinska are part of the South Minneapolis Technology Collaboration that is working toward: 1)Pulling the community tech providers together to pool resources; 2)Getting awareness of digital issues to city officials/community groups/neighborhood groups; 3)Forming a neighborhood technical advisory board to tell their group what is needed.

Koschinska has found that awareness of the digital divide was not widely understood, even to people that considered themselves long-time community activists.


Dave DeMuth, University of Minnesota: Crookston, Resident of the City of Moorhead
demuth@umn.edu

Professor DeMuth communicated his interpretation of why rural communities need online access and specifically why wireless makes sense for those communities. He argues that wireless is an essential service, much like electricity, water, heat, telephone, and weather radio (an especially important service up in rural Minnesota).

Wireless makes sense because hard wiring old infrastructure is costly. It also allows mobility which in turn allows connectivity. He provides a quick example of being able to take a call or check email while on the move (whether it be the grocery store or the golf course) — not to mention the time that could be saved commuting.

DeMuth sees his students engaged in gaming, social networking, shopping, mapping, etc. and thinks that wireless communities could help stop the drain of these minds out of rural Minnesota. He admits that he would probably not have moved himself to Crookston had it not been for high-speed access.

Terri Thao tthao@plcp.org

Thao shared her experiences of being on the St. Paul Broadband Advisory Committee (BAC).
Starting with a small phone survey of the public commissioned by the Mayor, her committee found that enhanced broadband would bring about opportunities to improve affordability of basic broadband. They set out to: 1)Make mobile broadband available throughout the city; 2)Improve fiber infrastructure; 3) Improve city service delivery.

She admits that the process has not been without its problems, but that it has also been rewarding. They struggle with community input and getting meaningful conversations to happen between diverse groups (community vs. tech). The process is ongoing, dealing with complex policy issues, but she has found many benefits to becoming involved in the discussion.

Planning Wireless Communities

10:30am Monday A panel on Planning Wireless Communities
James Farstad, of rClient:

There will be a much different future for the telecommunications industry; every day this is looking much more real. Much of the change is currently happening; Vodafone ‘funneling’ various applications through technology. It was the single largest impact on their revenue in their 100 year history. He said that the telephone is becoming a function of the web browser, part of software being developed differently and distributed differently. Changes will be systemic: look for Apple to change the way we purchase and use cell phones as much as it changed music through iTunes [more than the simple device of the iPod]. It’s consistent with a new model for customer dynamics.

A significant impact is to integrate the providers as part of the planning and implementation process. Driving the network rollout here in Minneapolis will be the increase in efficiency with city services. “There is an awful lot of wire in wireless.? Those with right of way and hanging assets need to be integrated into the process.

He gave a brief description of the various processes of providing the new wireless network. He noted that one needed to take advantage of all the existing potential participants. His focus was how to facilitate change in a complex environment.

Dave Demuth, University of Minnesota, Crookston
[ http://gomoorhead.com ]Demuth talked as a participant in Moorhead, Minnesota’s implementation of a wireless network.
Moorhead’s implementation was outlined; it began with a strong city involvment by providing a fiber optic ring that was publicly owned. They began focusing on wireless use in the city about 2004, building from an earlier broadband plan. Broadband was defined as being an “emerging essential? service for residents and businesses of Moorhead. They partnered with local and Fargo providers; project management provided through the city IT department; they also connected with Moorhead State, and went out and recruited hotspots such as bars, restaurants, and coffee shops.

GoMoorhead was fully functional and open ot the public in September 2005. Construction occurred over the spring and summer of 2005. Service plans were $20 and $30; service went through a modem or computer card, but have developed a good base of customers [2300 total]. He indicated that they would do it again, if they had to start over, recognizing the value to the city and to economic development.

Kurt Lange, US Internet Wireless Lange noted his strong approval to the title of the conference, as being community centered. He reviewed the history of their winning bid to be the wireless provider for the City of Minneapolis. He noted that their response did intend to address the digital divide issues included in the RFP.

He said that we are now accustomed to having wireless access in our hotels and our airports; as we have this technology in some places in the city, we will come to need a wireless system, not just want one.

One of his points was called “Network goes beyond the network? and the development of the Digital Inclusion Fund. Their future plan includes voice [particularly future bandwidth constraints], location awareness [PDA knows where you are; local broadcast of announcements or advertisements], and citizen convenience and safety.

Jim Miller, OIT University of Minnesota
He outlined the effort of the University to provide wireless systems on campus. He talked about some of the problems and lessons from implementation of a fairly large implementation. Access to the system was based on a UNIX firewall system accessing the University’s password system. He presented a list of detailed challenges that occur with the implementation of a large wireless system.

Discussions currently underway with both Minneapolis and St. Paul; some bleeding back and forth does currently happen with wireless signal, on the West Bank, for example. Currently in the midst of a RFI for complete campus coverage. The RFP has concluded, and will possibly be implemented over the summer of 2007. 12 responses; trying to compare “apples to oranges to plums to pears to potatoes?.

They are testing wireless for all purposes in their own offices; trying to live without hard wire connection. May be looking a new system with 1Gig uplinks through light fixtures.


Keynote: Lev Gonick

9:15am Monday Lev Gonick; CIO and vice president for information services at Case Western University, and is involved in OneCleveland, an innovative project involving wireless.

Gonick presented a video on OneCommunity [http://www.onecommunity.org/], the evolved name for a wireless project in Cleveland. Just being in the five mile range of the system gives them access.

Gonick described most cities as having a common history, and he described the “bright new future?. His work centered from Case Western Reserve University, un officially, he is the University’s “IT guy?. Around the world, the college campus is often a protected enclave, historically detached. Four years ago they chose to be come the best neighbor a city had, being part of the economic revitalization. The University is reaching out to the surrounding neighborhoods and communities, playing a major role in advancing the area. Connects, enables, mobilizes and transforms. He presented that the glue to attempt this improvement was through development in communications technologies.

He compared Cleveland’s effort with others; Philadelphia and San Francisco have outsourced their wireless efforts. In contract, Cleveland had three levels; public service [libraries, institutional], commercial [pay for service], public access [“bicycle lane? for lower level individual use]. The goal is for Cleveland to become a “digital city?. One of the successes is that wireless access will soon be possible for rail connections to downtown Cleveland; similarly, arteries throughout the city will also be addressed with continuous mobile access. Many services and connections in Cleveland will be accomplished through the wireless mesh, including traffic, medicine, and education. E-tourism was mentioned. All of this inconceivable before OneCommunity came into being, as most thought of themselves as “nineteenth century institutions where people came to you?. He noted that the model was certainly applicable to other cities including Minneapolis.

Technology was the enabling agent, the glue which made it all work. He noted that the technology partners needed to be engaged with the concept of fully connecting the community. He urged an examination of how our city was unique, and then to plan from there. In their experience, it has to be more than just the university to make something happen.

Q: could you talk about what you are doing about digital divide? A: It’s a huge problem as Cleveland is the nation’s poorest city; it’s more than putting up the mesh the area; it’s widely varied in terms of needs. Much of the focus has been on the Cleveland School of the Arts. Much has been through the industry partners. They’ve also focused on seniors accessing technology to improve health care through the Cleveland Clinic and other providers. The community service orgs “wheeled the wireless computers around? to seniors in the neighborhood for face-to-face digital communication between doctor and patient.

The key in OneCommunity is that the community owns the fiber; “We own all that infrastructure.?

Q: How are tax dollars included? A: 14 municipalities participate and use tax dollars to support the process. It’s not a continuous noise level for use.

Submitting Your Powerpoint

Please make sure to send us your Powerpoint so we can add it to the conference Web site! Powerpoint presentations can be mailed to: wccc07@dtc.umn.edu.

We can add your Powerpoint to the laptop on the podium that you'll use for your presentation. You can e-mail it to the address above, or ask any of the conference staff to help you with the transfer.

Welcome to the Wireless Cities Blog

We will be blogging all sessions of the conference, and comments are welcome to the entries. We will try to summarize the speakers, and provide connections to any websites that are mentioned in their talks.