OK-FIRST Wins Innovation Award
OK-FIRST, a 1996 TOP-funded project that delivers lifesaving information to local emergency managers, was selected as one of five winners of the prestigious Innovations in American Government award. The awards program, which is administered by Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and the Council for Excellence in Government and founded by the Ford Foundation, was established to identify and promote excellence and creativity in the public sector.
Established in 1996 by the Oklahoma Climatological Survey at the University of Oklahoma, the program provides up-to-the-minute weather data via specialized computer technology. With access to this timely information, emergency management teams can close roads and bridges before they become dangerous, alert rescue crews about storm movements and take other proactive measures to ensure public safety during severe weather.
"While we cannot control the weather, OK-First demonstrates that innovative thinking can help government respond to it more quickly," said Stephen Goldsmith, Faculty Director of the Innovations in American Government Program. "It's important that we continue to harness this type of public-sector creativity to improve the lives of American citizens nationwide."
In a recent editorial, the Daily Oklahoman noted that, "In a state where weather forecasting is a sophisticated and respected science, the Oklahoma Climatological Survey should be commended for its contribution in protecting the public from severe weather." After highlighting a number of examples of OK-FIRST's role in protecting the public from hazardous storms and tornadoes, spillage of dangerous materials, and wind shifts associated with large fires, the editorial noted that not only had the project made it to the finals of the Innovations in American Government Award competition, but it had also achieved international recognition. Although TOP support ended a couple of years ago, the editorial went on, "the state Legislature wisely continues to appropriate funds to continue this valuable program."
This year, the National Selection Committee chose only five winners, instead of its usual 10, out of nearly 1300 entries.
TOP's 74 New Awards for FY2001
The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today announced the award of $42.8 million in Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) grants to 74 non-profit organizations, including state and local governments, across the country and in Puerto Rico.
TOP grants, matched by $46.7 million in contributions from the private sector and state and local organizations, extend the benefits of advanced telecommunications technologies to underserved communities and neighborhoods.
"We want these grants to demonstrate how the most up-to-date technology can assist the delivery of services to Americans of all ages and backgrounds, improving levels of public safety, public health, public information, homeownership and economic development," said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Nancy J. Victory. "Successful TOP grants recipients share best practices with other non-profit and public sector organizations."
New, Improved Digital Divide Network
The new version of the Benton Foundation's Digital Divide Network has now gone public: www.DigitalDivideNetwork.org
If you've visited the site before, you know the general layout, but you might want to check out some of the enhanced features. One of the most important is the new Digital Divide Database, a national directory of over 20,000 digital divide-related services around the country, including places where citizens can get free Internet access and IT training (public libraries, Community Technology Centers, HUD neighborhood network sites, PowerUp sites, TOP grantees, and Urban League centers, among others).
Go to DigitalDivideNetwork.org and find the spot on the right-hand side labeled "Get Connected!" Type in a zip code and press the submit button. You'll then be brought to a map with little black circles on it, each circle with a number inside it. These circles represent the location of organizations offering a digital-divide-related service to the community. (a maximum of 30 circles will appear on any map.) If you scroll below the map, you'll see a numbered listing of each of these organizations, including contact information and their URL, when available. Click on an organization's name and a new page will open providing more information about the organization, as well as a zoomed-in street level map and an option to get driving directions to the organization.
In the future, the database will be used to service a new Public Service Announcement campaign on broadcast and cable TV networks, funded by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the AOL/Time Warner Foundation, Univision, the Benton Foundation, and over half a dozen other organizations. The campaign will use English and Spanish commercials to encourage young people to get involved in community technology programs in their area. In order to make sure that everyone has access to the organizations listed in the database, the PSAs will include toll-free numbers with English and Spanish-language operators who will help callers identify organizations in their community that can offer them free Internet access and IT training.
The website also includes a new search engine that provides access to archives of Digital Divide Network's news stories, feature articles, a calendar of divide-related events and relevant web resources. There is also an option to allow individuals to become members of the Digital Divide Network, with receive email regular updates on what's been posted recently to the website (including direct links to each new item, as well as articles, news stories, events listings, web resources, and recommend organizations, posted by Digital Divide Network members.
Colorado Arts Council Joins Virtual Chautauqua
Virtual Chautauqua, a 1998 TOP grantee, recently received a grant from the Colorado Council on the Arts, along with several University of Colorado grants to assist project leaders with solidifying the sustainability plan. The project focuses on helping K-12 teachers use Internet tools to integrate performing arts into their curricula. New partnerships with the Western States Arts Federation and their artistsregister.com, rural Colorado schools, and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival are strengthening the project and improving the quality of offerings.
Virtual Chautauqua's Africa "learning unit" is being translated into Spanish and will be linked by April. "Africa" was developed in the fall of 2000 by a group of University of Colorado students working with first grade teachers from an area bilingual Pre-K-2 literacy center. Virtual Chautauqua is an outreach project of the University of Colorado at Boulder School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
For more information, contact Mary Virnoche.
See Forever Student Technology Center
See Forever, in the inner-city Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC, recently held its grand opening of the Student Technology Center, which gives students at the Maya Angelou Public Charter School and residents of the Shaw community a place to learn and apply computer skills.
Maya Angelou students will work with community residents and local businesses, giving classes on computer applications, the Internet, and web design. The school also has a unique "backpack learning experience" when students take laptop computers to senior citizens in their homes for teaching purposes. The Tech Center is a Power-UP site, where young people between the ages of 6 and 18 can use age-relevant computer programs to access online resources.
Gates Funds Digital Tribal Outreach
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is providing a $393,435 grant to the Tribal Connections project co-sponsored by the University of Washington and the National Library of Medicine. The collaboration will open access to electronic health information resources for Southwest Native American tribes. Tribal Connections provides assistance with computer network and telecommunications planning, equipment and training in the use of electronic health information.
Sixteen Northwest tribes and villages have already benefited from the health information and resources provided by Tribal Connections. In 2000, the National Library of Medicine provided additional funding to extend this innovative model for health information outreach to four additional tribal communities in the Southwest United States.
For more information on the project, visit the Tribal Connections website.
Kapi'oloni's Telecon2000 Award
On December 6, at the the 19th annual Telecon2000 Conference and Expo in Anaheim, CA, Kapi'oloni Medical Center for Women and Children won first prize for "Innovation in Technology - Telemedicine & Healthcare Sector" for the TOP-supported Fetal Tele-Ultrasound Project. The center was one of 281 nominees.
Kapi'oloni Medical Center for Women and Children's perinatologists fly and drive all over the state to care for women with high-risk pregnancies. This new service permits Fetal Diagnostic Center to "see" high-resolution ultrasound images broadcast from neighbor island and remote Oahu locations. Tele-ultrasound provides 24/7 access to specialty care rather than itinerant clinics.
Jana Hall, grant manager, presented the project at the conference in tandem with Dr. Hirata, who demonstrated real-time tele-ultrasound for the Anaheim audience.
Falling through the Net,Part 4
The fourth in the Falling Through the Net series has been released by NTIA. Falling Through the Net: Toward Digital Inclusion measures the extent of digital inclusion by looking at households and individuals that have a computer and an Internet connection.
The report concludes that "Internet access is no longer a luxury item, but a resource used by many." The findings show that computer ownership and Internet access rates are rapidly rising nationwide, and for almost all groups. However, "there are still sectors of Americans that are not adequately digitally connected." Until everyone has access to new technology tools, the report goes on, "we must continue to take steps to expand access to these information resources."
The full text (with accompanying charts) of the 122-page report is available from the NTIA website as an Adobe .PDF file. The site also has the report's Executive Summary (in HTML), as well as a statement by President Clinton.
Education Grants for 2001
The Department of Education has posted its (http://ocfo.ed.gov/grntinfo/forecast/forecast.htm) grants forecast" listing virtually all programs and competitions under which the Department has invited, or expects to invite, applications for new awards for Fiscal Year 2001 and providing actual or estimated deadline dates for the transmittal of applications under these programs.
The lists are in the form of charts — organized according to the Department's principal program offices — and include programs and competitions the Department has previously announced, as well as those it plans to announce at a later date.
This document is advisory only and is not an official application notice of the Department of Education. The Department says it plans to provide updates to this document monthly, starting in the first week of October, 2000, and continuing through the first week of May, 2001.
Models that Work Competition 2000
Two TOP grantees were recipients of (http://bphc.hrsa.gov/mtw/) Models That Work (MTW) awards on June 22, 2000, in Washington, DC. (www2.kumc.edu/telemedicine/telekid.htm) Tele-KidCARE, Kansas City, Kansas, and Every Block A Village, Oak Park, Illinois, were two of six awards given to community initiatives that provide health care services to residents of low-income areas. These communities have identified barriers to good health care, and have put strategies in place to address the problems.
The MTW campaign then shares these strategies that provide economic dividends for struggling communities and families, while creating integrated delivery systems that are responsive to the needs of all Americans, regardless of their ability to pay.
Tele-KidCARE brings health care to children by using technology to allow doctors to examine children online. In 1998, Kansas University Medical Center (KUMC), in partnership with the city school system, launched the country’s first telemedicine delivery system to the one place children go every day — school. When the school nurse and other school professionals identify a child who needs medical assistance, the nurse schedules a Tele-KidCARE appointment. The system transmits information to a doctor over specialized telephone lines using videoconferencing technology, with the parties communicating real-time. For example, electronic stethoscopes allow the remote doctor to hear lung/heart sounds, or an electronic otoscope can be used to examine ears, nose, and throats. Community involvement is the key to this project’s success — teachers, parents, and school nurses were participants in the planning since its inception. And, the project can be used in either rural or urban areas.
Every Block A Village Online, working with West Suburban Hospital as part of a primary healthcare program, gives residents of an inner-city Chicago community access to the Internet to find health and safety information. EBV Online’s health-focused interventions include:
Web TV Internet connection devices are placed in citizen leaders’ homes and local community sites. Many of the topics addressed on EBV Online focus on the needs of women, such as pregnancy, parenting, domestic violence, and the like. The program is easily replicable since creation of a website with local health information has become possible with easy-to-use software and low-cost domain registrations. Churches, libraries, community centers, and public schools provide good access points for community members.
Since 1994, MTW has identified 26 Models and replicated their innovative service delivery strategies in nearly 40 communities across the country. MTW is a public/private initiative led by the Federal Government’s Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Primary Health Care, in partnership with 45 national cosponsoring organizations. For more information, call 1-800-850-2386.
Two TOP Grantees Up for Stockholm Award
Two TOP grant recipients — Neighborhood Knowledge Los Angeles and OK-FIRST are finalists for the prestigious Stockholm Challenge Award, presented to innovative information technology projects that are focused on people and society.
Neighborhood Knowledge Los Angeles is a web-based neighborhood early warning system that integrates and maps public data (housing complaints, unpaid water bills, etc.) to pinpoint deterioration and reverse decline. OK-FIRST improves access to current weather information via instructional technology and provides a decision-support system for the state's public safety (fire, police and emergency management) agencies during weather emergencies. Both projects are finalists in the Public Services and Democracy category.
In addition to Public Services and Democracy, awards are given in the categories of Culture and Entertainment; Environment; Equal Access; Health and Quality of Life; Education; and New Economy. Projects were evaluated on four criteria: Innovation; User Need; Sustainability; and Transferability. The Stockholm Challenge Award is a non-profit initiative of the City of Stockholm, Sweden, in partnership with the European Commission. Projects come from the private, public, and academic sectors. The Award is the successor to the Global Bangemann Challenge (1997 to 1999).
In 2000, KORRnet, the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Regional Network of Tennessee, was the only project from the United States among 13 international winners. KORRnet’s CHIPs (Computers for Homebound and Isolated Persons) project won in the Equal Access category, which rewards projects working for equal access to the benefits offered by the new information technologies.
Stories from TOP Update
These stories have appeared over the past months in issues of TOP's printed newsletter TOP Update:
To read any of these stories, click here.
TOP Evaluation Guides Online
Responding to many requests for technical assistance with
developing evaluation plans, TOP contracted for the development
of evaluation guides.
The aim of these guides is to engage the user through the utilization of worksheet tools and exercises on how to integrate program planning, evaluation, and program implementation for greater success.
For more details and electronic copies of the guides, please see the Research and Evaluation section of the TOP website.
Medical Grants for Connectivity
The National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health provides grants for Internet connectivity to any U.S. public, private, or non-profit institutions engaged in health administration, education, research, and/or clinical care. The institution can be of any size, from a small clinic to a hospital; groups or cooperatives of health-related institutions are also eligible to apply.
For a single institution, support is available up to $30,000; a group of institutions may receive up to $50,000 to support development of a multi-institution network including extending existing connectivity to outlying sites, or otherwise furthering NLM's goal of expanding information outreach.
Funds can be used to cover the overall cost of a connection to the Internet, including gateway or routers, associated communication hardware (CSU/DSU), the leased line and its installation, local area network user support staff, and Internet Service Provider fees. NLM has budgeted $600,000 for this program, however, expenditure of this amount is conditional upon the receipt of quality proposals. They estimate that they will make between 10 and 16 awards.
Check out the NLM (www.nlm.nih.gov/ep/conrfa.html) Request for Proposals. A Letter of Intent must be received by the NLM by February 20, 2000, and a full proposal must be submitted by March 14, 2000.
For further information, contact: Susan M. Sparks
Dept. of Ed Tech Grants to Teachers
The U.S. Department of Education announced $48 million in new grants. The grants are to be awarded to consortia of higher education institutions, state agencies, school districts, nonprofit organizations, and others actively working to transform teacher education programs into "21st century learning environments." The grants will be awarded on three levels. Application guidelines for the fiscal year 2000 competition are available and can be downloaded from www.ed.gov/teachtech, or via email at email@example.com.
Eight regional application workshops have been scheduled to help prospective applicants better understand the Department's approach to implementing the competitive grant process. You may obtain a copy of the guidelines by mail by contacting the Education Publications Center:
ED Pubs, P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794-1398
The Digital Divide Network Goes Online
The Digital Divide Network, a joint project of the Benton Foundation, the National Urban League, and a number of Internet, telecommunications, and software firms, is now online. Among the partners in the project are America Online, AT&T, Bell-Atlantic, Bellsouth, Gateway, Intel, iVillage, Microsoft, and SBC Communications.
The site will coordinate information, strategies, and efforts targeting solutions to the Digital Divide.
The partners intend the Digital Divide Network to serve as "a catalyst for developing new, innovative strategies to close the growing technology gap between rich and poor Americans." As a mechanism for consolidating Digital Divide initiatives, "the Digital Divide Network will emphasize collaborative and outcome-oriented projects with an eye toward establishing the right metrics for evaluation."
The Digital Divide Network will feature:
You can subscribe to the Digital Divide email list by sending a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org and placing the following line (with no other text): subscribe digitaldivide yourname in the body of the message.
Youth and the Digital Divide
More than a dozen nonprofit organizations, major corporations, and federal agencies have launched a multimillion-dollar initiative to help ensure that America's underserved young people acquire the skills, experience, and resources they need to succeed in the digital age.
The initiative, called PowerUp, is designed to give underserved children access to technology and guidance on how to use it. Developed in conjunction with America's Promise — The Alliance for Youth, the initiative will leverage partnerships with public and private organizations to provide technology, trained personnel, in-kind support, and other resources to thousands of existing community centers and schools.
PowerUP, which was established with a $10 million grant from the Case Foundation, will provide an initial $5 million in direct grants to community- and school-based centers that wish to participate in the program. PowerUp's chairman is Steve Case, CEO of America Online. AOL is also providing 100,000 accounts for participating centers. Founding partners in the project include Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Family Education Network, the National Urban League, Power Bar, Inc., Save the Children, Sun Microsystems Inc., and the United States Department of Education.
Grants may be used for any activity or resource that is consistent with the program's goals. More information is provided in the program's guidelines.
How TOP Grants Benefit Children
How Access Benefits Children: Connecting Our Kids to the World of Information, the newest publication from NTIA, gives you a glimpse of the potential that can be realized when young people are given the tools to succeed. The report profiles eleven TOP projects and shows how kids across America are using the Internet and other information age tools to connect with and enrich their communities.
One of the projects featured in the report is the Vermont Arts Council's Millennium Arts Project, where kids use computers to go compose music and share their work with their peers, their teachers, and professional mentors. Through a link in the report, you can listen online to more than twenty samples of student compositions in MIDI format.
A project in Crete, Nebraska, enables children to reach out to and learn from seniors through a TOP-supported online electronic network; another project in Rogers, Texas, empowers children to act as "agents of change" by involving themselves directly in the economic revitalization of their community.
How Access Benefits Children is also available online in Adobe .PDF format and in hard copy from TOP.
Technology Grants for New Housing
The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) just announced a $1.5-million initiative to develop technologies that will help create a new generation of housing.
The research initiative will support goals of PATH, a federal government and industry partnership established last year by President Clinton to develop, demonstrate, and deploy advanced housing technologies radically to improve the quality, durability, energy efficiency, environmental performance, and affordability of the nation's housing. Both NSF and PATH each are contributing one-half of the funding for the research effort.
NSF, administrator of the award program, anticipates funding approximately 12 proposals, with awards up to $150,000 for two years, for fundamental engineering research in areas that address PATH concerns. Although collaboration among researchers and partnerships with industry or government laboratories is encouraged, awards are limited to U.S. academic institutions.
The research initiative will focus a broad array of engineering sciences and technologies and interdisciplinary activities on the effort. Deadline for submission of proposals is January 27, 2000. Awards will be announced May 2000. Complete text of the award announcement is available on the NSF web site at http://www.nsf.gov/home/programs/recent.htm.
PATH is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In addition to HUD and NSF, federal agencies participating in PATH include U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Labor and Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Housing Finance Board, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Private sector members include leaders of the home building, product manufacturing, insurance, and financial industries.
For more information, please visit: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2000/nsf004/nsf004.htm.
The America Connects Consortium (ACC) is a group of eight partners, working with community technology centers across the United States "to improve programs, support community development, and eliminate the digital divide." ACC serves the more than 400 centers of the U.S. Department of Education's Community Technology Centers program.
Working with Community Technology Centers' Network (CTCNet) and the HUD Neighborhood Networks program, ACC reaches more than 1,200 community centers. ACC is led by the Education Development Center, and includes CTCNet, ICF Consulting, the Alliance for Nonprofit Management, the Alliance for Technology Access, CompuMentor, the Information Technology Association of America, and the (www.nab.com) National Alliance of Business, along with supporting organizations.
ACC will be working to help centers create programs to "leverage powerful computer technology to improve academic achievement, teach new job-related skills, build small businesses, and empower the most disadvantaged Americans to become 'digital citizens.'"
One of the resources available from ACC is an extensive literature review, Effective Technology Use in Low-Income Communities. The review covers areas such as Policy Studies on Access; Theoretical Considerations on the Societal Impact of the Digital Divide; and Patterns of Use, Content, Need, and Access. The document can be downloaded in PDF format from the ACC website.
FY2000 TOP Grant Awards Announced
Grant awards from the Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) for Fiscal Year 2000 were announced on September 28, 2000. Thirty-five awards, representing $13.9 million in Federal funds, were recommended to organizations in 27 states and the District of Columbia.
The awards were announced by Secretary of Commerce Norman Y. Mineta while speaking at the Maya Angelou Public Charter School in Washington, DC. The school is home to the See Forever Foundation, a non-profit organization that received a $395,000 award TOP to develop ShawNet, a community network that will use information technology to help residents of a low-income inner city neighborhood solve local problems, such as creating access for the elderly and training teens in computer skills.
"The awards I am announcing today highlight how innovative applications of information technology can make a community a better place to live," Mineta said. "This year's grant recipients are leading the way in developing local initiatives moving from digital divide to digital inclusion." Mineta added, "My enthusiasm today is tempered only by my frustration that TOP does not have the funds to support more of the excellent applications that we received." President Clinton has proposed increasing TOP's appropriation to $45 million in his FY 2001 budget request. (see story below)
Complete information, including project descriptions and contact information, can be found on the TOP website: www.ntia.doc.gov/otiahome/top/
Awards went to the following projects: (click on the name to see a full project description)
Indian Tribes Leapfrom into Info Age
Both the New York Times (Sept 21, 2000) and the Washington Post (Nov 6, 2000) featured articles on a TOP project, the (http://4directions.org/SebaDalkai) Seba Dalkai Boarding School on the Navajo Nation in Arizona. The tribe received funding from TOP to set up a two-way satellite Internet service. Starband Communications worked with the Southwest Navajo Nation Virtual Alliance and Northern Arizona University to create the connections. The service is the first commercial pilot project for Starband, which will begin selling satellite Internet service to the public later this year.
The project brings modern communications to many remote locations on the Navajo Nation, including schools, Indian Health Clinics, public safety and tribal government departments. In addition, Microsoft Corporation contributed funds for software.
Another Friend Is Gone
We recently received word of the passing of Jesse Gregory of Knoxville, Tennessee. Jesse wasn't "important" – he wasn't a policymaker, or an innovator. He wasn't a major funder. He didn't create any projects, and he rarely left his modest house in Knoxville. Jesse was an "end user" – little more than a statistic in our world of abstractions and acronyms.
But Jesse made those of us who knew him feel important, because Jesse constantly reminded us of why we actually do this kind of work, and why the work we do is important. He was the human face of information technology. He was a hero to the people who knew him.
Jesse was just a guy who used to drive a truck until accidents and a series of illnesses took him off the road and into a tightly circumscribed world where all he really had to look forward to were increasingly gloomy days and an early death. But gradually his days became filled with light and joy, even though death did come early.
Jesse was part of the CHIPS project (computers for home-bound and isolated persons) at KORRnet, the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Regional Network in East Tennessee. Because of his increasingly fragile physical condition, he was largely confined to a small house in Knoxville with his wife Susan, their two children, and a swelling army of cats who knew they could count on Jesse and Susan for unfailing love and attention.
Natalie Bradley of KORRnet writes about Jesse that he was "a beacon of light for all of us at CHIPS. He wanted so much to give back, and always asked for more ways in which he could help. There were so many things that he did, so I will just name a few here. Of course, many of us know Jesse as our Listserve ‘Greeter' and you could always count on him to send a warm welcome to new members. Jesse was also the Volunteer Coordinator, keeping meticulous track of volunteer information through spreadsheets he developed, and numerous phone calls and emails. Jesse also won an award from KORRnet for all of the work that he had done for CHIPS, and Jesse was extremely proud of this honor, displaying it among his other honors on his living room wall."
Jesse showed me his award when I visited his home last year. He told me how he would pick up the phone and call anyone who hadn't logged on to a KORRnet discussion for a few days, just to see how they were doing and if they needed any help. He took things very personally. He even tried to get me to take a couple of his cats back with me to DC, figuring that since I had one already a couple more wouldn't hurt (and, what counted most, that he could trust me with them). He asked me to send him any shareware programs I found useful so he could play around with them and figure out how they worked, and then maybe share them with other KORRnet users. He scribbled notes constantly while we chatted and, when it was time for me to head for the airport to catch my plane, he made me promise to stop by on my next trip to Knoxville. I'll miss not being able to do that now.
So, when you hear policymakers and entrepreneurs and educators, and other really important people, talking about the Digital Divide and the New Information Economy, or you're slinking onto Ameritrade for one more shot at outfoxing the NASDAQ, remember that the real reason we should care about this stuff is because there are people like Jesse Gregory logging on all over the world, connecting to one another and doing their part to keep real life going, even – thank God – in cyberspace.
Coming in January: The Digital Divide
The Digital Divide, a new four-part series for public television from San Francisco's Studio Miramar, premiers on PBS on January 28, 2000. The series examines the role technology plays in widening social divisions in our culture. In contrast to "the ardor that usually characterizes reporting on digital technology," says executive producer David Bolt, "this series asks some hard questions about the social role of the computer."
Bolt intends the series to register with "every adult who worries about the digital future; every student in America who questions his or her role in the 'Information Age;' any parent who has looked for appropriate software for their daughter, only to find endless versions of Doom or, at best, Barbie Fashion Designer." Most of all, he says, "it is a series for anyone who is concerned about the social impact of digital technology on our culture."
Among those featured in the series are Larry Irving, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and chief administrator of NTIA; B. Keith Fulton , Director of Technology Programs and Policy for the National Urban League; and Bart Decrem, founder of Plugged In.
Each of the one-hour episodes looks at a different facet of technology's impact on young people in America. The first episode "Wired For What?" examines the role of computers in elementary schools and the questions now being raised nationwide about educational technology. In the second episode, "Fair Play", the producers look at the gender gap for middle school girls vis-à-vis digital technology.
The third episode, "Virtual Equality", examines the distribution of digital technology along racial lines in America from the perspective of high-school students. And in the final episode, "Crossing the Divide", the producers follow young people as they graduate from high school and struggle to enter the new digital economy.
The five producers — Debra Chasnoff, Helen Cohen, Sue Ellen McCann, Lorna Thomas, and David Brown — have won numerous film and television awards. Executive producer David Bolt was Director of Production for the George Lucas Educational Foundation at Skywalker Ranch, where he prototyped multimedia applications. He was Vice-President for Technology at the California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC) and the Executive Director of the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC).
In November, 1999, TV Books will publish a companion volume to the series. Studio Miramar has also received funding from the Ford Foundation and the Gates Foundation to conduct outreach to classroom educators across the United States.
For further information, visit the Digital Divide website at: www.pbs.org/digitaldivide.
Community Networking Conference
The 3rd Annual Community Network Conference will be held at the Omni Southpark Hotel in Austin, Texas, December 11-12,2000. This conference is one of the key gatherings for everyone interested in using telecommunications technology for community development.
Pre-conference events begin Sunday afternoon, December 10. Conference presentations are Monday and Tuesday, December 11 and 12.
Sunday, December 10 - Pre-conference events:
Monday and Tuesday, December 11-12 - General Conference Program:
This Community Network Conference emphasizes practicality as well as possibilities, discussing today's real telecom choices for community social and economic development. Among the presentations will be the (www.afcn.net) Association for Community Networking "CN success" program tracks; Community Technology workshops from CTCNet; and extensive Rural Connectivity content, combined with announcements and assistance for Community Networking tools, grants and resources.
The conference is jointly sponsored by:
For more information, contact:
Internet Improves School Attitudes
The Internet is a positive force in children's education, according to the findings of a new survey of parents and children from the U.S. National School Boards Foundation, with support from the Children's Television Workshop and Microsoft Corporation.
Also of note is a section on "Schools Can Help Bridge the Digital Divide."
Rural Telecom Leadership Awards
Do you know of a small community or rural region that is successfully employing telecommunications to create jobs, enhance citizen participation, provide critical health services, or engage youth people? If so, you should know about the AOL Rural Telecommunications Leadership Awards '00, a digital divide partnership of the National Center for Small Communities (NCSC) and the (www.corp.aol.com/foundation.html) AOL Foundation.
For the second year, the AOL Rural Telecommunications Leadership Awards will recognize and promote outstanding achievement in rural community development, resulting from the deployment and use of advanced telecommunications. Five $10,000 winner awards and ten $2,000 finalist awards (new for 2000) will be presented at RuralTeleCon'00, the National Rural Telecommunications Conference to be held in Aspen, Colorado, October 1-4, 2000.
Winner and finalists awards will be given in the following five categories (some new for 2000): Infrastructure Technology; Public Access, Skills and Training; Community/Economic Development, Job Creation; Health Information and Services, Enhanced Disability Access; Youth Development/Leadership
All applications must be prepared online beginning May 8. Since this is a telecommunications leadership awards program, the application process is electronic. A printed and signed copy of the application must also be received by NCSC by Friday, July 14. Award finalists and winners will be announced on September 1.
To be eligible for the award, community leaders must demonstrate that they have enhanced rural telecommunications, through a public-private partnership, in a community of 10,000 population or less. Applications can also come from regional public-private partnerships that serve a collection of communities (each with populations of 10,000 or less) so long as the project's leadership and support comes from the communities themselves.
All efforts must show how enhancing rural telecommunications has invigorated the community or region in demonstrable ways. Projects must be already underway and significantly achieved. Unfortunately, the AOL Awards does not fund proposals to start new efforts.
For more information on closing the digital divide, and to begin the application process, go to http://www.natat.org/ncsc/, and click on the flashing AOL Foundation logo.
E-Commerce and the Digital Divide
The United States Conference of Mayors and the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce have organized a National Economic Development Forum to be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, May 30 - June 1, 2000. The theme of the forum is E-Commerce and the Digital Divide: Meeting the Challenge. Using this theme as a guide, the forum will cover topics ranging from "Technology Needs of Underserved Minority Populations" to "Improving Technology Infrastructure" to "Filling the Skills Void in a Knowledge-Based Community."
Organizers anticipate over 1,000 participants, including economic development specialists, planners, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations and elected officials to attend the three-day meeting as well as a number of high profile public and private sector speakers and presenters.
Greg Rohde Named to Head NTIA
Greg Rohde's nomination to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information was confirmed on November 5th. The Assistant Secretary is responsible for formulating policies supporting the development and growth of telecommunications, information and related industries; furthering the efficient development and use of telecommunications and informational services; providing policy and management for federal use of the electromagnetic spectrum; and providing telecommunications facilities grants to public users.
Mr. Rohde served as a senior aide to Senator Byron L. Dorgan (D-North Dakota) for more than ten years as the chief policy advisor for all areas of jurisdiction under the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, including telecommunications and technology issues. He played a key role in many important legislative initiatives such as the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the Internet Tax Freedom Act of 1998 (which provided a moratorium of state and local taxation on electronic commerce).
Mr. Rohde began his career as a legislative assistant to then-Representative Dorgan in 1988, serving as chief policy advisor for health care, social security, and human resource issues on the a House Committee on Ways and Means.
Born in Pierre, South Dakota, in 1961, Mr. Rohde's family moved to North Dakota when he was young, settling in the state capitol of Bismarck. He attended Colorado University, in Boulder, Colorado, and North Dakota State University, in Fargo, North Dakota, on a track and cross-country scholarship. He received a Bachelor of Science in Education, with majors in Philosophy and Sociology, from North Dakota State University in 1985, and a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, in 1988.
Urban Challenge Grants
3Com Corporation today announced that through its Urban Challenge program the company will donate a total of $1 million in network equipment, technology training, and consulting services to ten U.S. cities. The funds are earmarked to help the cities use networking technology to enhance education, government and health care services.
"Urban Challenge is an innovative program to promote the concept of 'connected communities' and the benefits that will become available to residents in the nation's urban centers," said David Katz, global director of market development at 3Com Corporation. "We are developing close working relationships with strong mayors who can serve as brokers to bring together key constituents to build modern, high speed Metropolitan Area Networks (MAN). Working with government officials, 3Com is using innovative MAN networking technology to connect municipal facilities, including public schools, libraries, utilities, hospitals, and police and fire departments."
The 3Com Urban Challenge, in collaboration with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, is designed to help mayors employ 3Com's networking technology and communications services to connect disparate educational, health care, and governmental facilities to each other and to the Internet. The program will enable mayors to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of government agencies, offer faster access to information and technology for city residents, and promote an improved learning environment for teachers and students in public schools.
The deadline for Urban Challenge grant applications is October 15, 1999. To apply for an Urban Challenge grant of $100,000, city mayors can download an application from 3Com's Web site at:
The 3Com Urban Challenge program goes far beyond networking computers and connecting buildings to the Internet. One key benefit of the program includes 3Com's NetPrep program, an educational training program to prepare high school and college students for high-skill and high-paying jobs in computer network management, the fastest growing high-tech job category in the United States today. The program will help prepare both students and teachers for a future where network technology enhances the learning process both inside and outside the classroom.
3Com's NetPrep program is a vendor-neutral, standards-based curriculum that focuses on the design, implementation, management and integration of computer networks. The program is expected to reach 500 schools and 50,000 students over the next two years. Successful NetPrep pilot programs have already been implemented in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.
NKLA Makes a Splash Nationally
Neighborhood Knowledge Los Angeles (NKLA), a project of the Department of Urban Planning and the Advanced Policy Institute of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and supported by TIIAP in 1998 to help prevent housing and neighborhood conditions from deteriorating in the Greater Los Angeles area, has generated considerable interest at the national level.
J. Eugene Grigsby, III, Professor of Urban Planning and Director of the Advanced Policy Institute, demonstrated NKLA and discussed University Community Partnerships at the Gore Family Reunion in Carthage, Tennessee, earlier this year. As a result of this presentation, he was appointed to a technology advisory group by the Vice President, who expressed considerable enthusiasm for NKLA's work.
UCLA is now planning a major conference for late 1999 where university presidents, applied research faculty, and community representatives will discuss the role of new partnerships in addressing urban problems. Vice President Gore is scheduled to lead the event.
The Neighborhood Knowledge Los Angeles project originated within the applied community-based research program at the UCLA's Department of Urban Planning. Under the direction of (www.sppsr.ucla.edu/faculty/richman.html") Dr. Neal Richman, NKLA provides tools for accessing property and neighborhood data and works with neighborhood residents, community organizations, and policymakers to mobilize support for community improvement in the Los Angeles area.
La Plaza Telecommunity's AOL Award
La Plaza Telecommunity, a 1995 TIIAP grantee located in Taos County, in northern New Mexico, has received one of four $10,000 (http://18.104.22.168/aolawards.asp) AOL Rural Telecommunications Leadership Awards for 1999.
One of TIIAP's first Community Networking grantees, La Plaza partnered with the State Radio Communications Bureau (NMRCB) to develop a wireless demonstration project in the rural mountainous community of Questa, New Mexico (population 1700). In November, 1999, La Plaza and NMRCB began providing Questa with wireless, T-1 capacity connectivity. The impact of the project will be felt throughout the community, in education, health, business, ecommerce, and economic development.
Because private telecommunications carrier USWest, citing high expense and the sparse population, had no plans to lay fiber optic cable in the remote rural areas north of Taos, La Plaza stepped in to become the ISP for Questa. The rudimentary service is delivered through a 56Kbps line and 8 analogue phone lines for 120 dial-in users, the school district, Village Offices, Health Clinic, and Youth and Family Center. To date, 2304 visits have been made to the free public access site in Questa.
La Plaza sees the project as easily replicable in rural communities wherever state government has a microwave presence and would be willing to partner with a private ISP for access, education, and training. La Plaza is currently developing a similar project in Peñasco, another remote rural community 25 miles southeast of Taos. This project involves the Town of Taos emergency medical tower, sitting on a 12,000 foot mountain peak. The tower provides line of sight from La Plaza to the mountain peak, and from the mountain peak into Peñasco. Employing this wireless connection, La Plaza will be able to offer the same high-speed bandwidth to Peñasco that is now available in Questa.
This project is in an Enterprise Zone and will also serve a career development and School-to-Work program developing multi-media business. La Plaza provides free public access in the Peñasco High School computer lab.
Opportunities for Minority Institutions
The Department of Commerce is organizing a conference on September 23, (http://osecnt13.osec.doc.gov/ocr/msi99.nsf/) New Directions: Building Relationships and Expanding Opportunities with Minority Serving Institutions. Both TIIAP and NTIA's Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) will be offering workshops at the conference — "Availability of Funding Opportunities" and "How to Prepare Competitive Applications." TIIAP will also have a booth at the Conference Expo. You can view the conference agenda, get hotel and travel information, and register online both for the conference, and for specific workshops, by clicking on the link above to the conference website.
(Almost) Totally Free Internet Access
NetZero, a nationwide, advertiser-supported ISP, will give you free, local-dial, unlimited Internet access in exchange for a little advertising space on your screen.
After you download and run the 3.3 MB installation file, NetZero will use your modem to dial its homesite and walk you through the process of setting up a free password-protected NetZero account. After that, whenever you load NetZero, it will ask you what state you're calling from, provide you with a list of cities and local phone numbers, automatically dial the number you select, and establish your Net connection. It will also load your Web browser.
NetZero is not the only ISP offering this free service, and you may already have come across others that work as well or better. But, for the moment, this is the one we've tested and it appears to work pretty smoothly. If you can live with the questions and the advertising banner, NetZero may be a good way to save twenty or thirty bucks a month on ISP charges.
Free Data Management Tool
Desktop Assistance describes itself as a company that "researches cutting-edge information and communications technologies, adapts them for use by nonprofits, and helps nonprofits use these technologies creatively." They focus on "building the human capacity of organizations to succeed using new tools."
The 3rd Annual National Rural Telecommunications Conference is scheduled for October 10-13, 1999, at the Aspen Institute, Aspen, Colorado.
Early registration is $195 for the three full-day event. Registrations are now being accepted online at the RuralTeleCon website. Click on "Conference," then click on "Registration." Registration is limited to 350 people, so if you are planning to attend, it's a good idea fo register early.
The conference will be organized around four themes: technology, applications, community, and policy. Along with the usual keynotes, seminars, topic panels, roundtable discussions, and peer-to-peer sessions, there will be what conference organizers describe as "seminar sessions for in-depth learning at both tutorial and advanced levels."
There will also be the presentation of the 1999 AOL Rural Telecommunications Leadership Awards, one of which will be presented to TIIAP-grantee La Plaza Telecommunity (see above).
For more information, you can contact Dr. J. Jeffrey Richardson, RuralTeleCon Chairman, or call him at (303) 620-4777 ext. 305.
Registration and onsite information is available from Toni Black, Colorado Mountain College, (800) 621-8559 ext. 8365.
Who Applied to TIIAP in 1999?
A "Notice of Applications Received by TIIAP" was published in Part VII of the Federal Register (Vol. 64, No. 83, 30 April 1999, pp. 23518-23524).
You can view the Notice online, or browse back issues of the Federal Register, at the Federal Register website.
Or click here to view the document in Adobe format.
The Telecommunications Act of '96
NTIA has produced an overview of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, covering everything from Universal Service, Local Competition, and the E-Rate, to Broadcast Ownership, the Communications Decency Act of 1995, and the V-Chip.
It's a concise and useful summary of current legislation, FCC rulemakings, and issues likely to be taken up by Congress in 1999.
To browse the overview, click here.
Also, the Benton Foundation's Telecommunications Act of 1996 Home Page contains a wealth of resources, including an extremely useful hypertext version of the Act.
Embrace Your OMB Circulars!
We know how diligently you have been searching out and studying your Office of Management and Budget (OMB) circulars in preparation for submitting your TIIAP proposal.
OMB Circulars are instructions or information issued by OMB to Federal agencies. These circulars are expected to have a continuing effect of two years or more, so they're worth having on file.
To make things a bit easier, we have compiled a list of the circulars, most of which can be read online and/or downloaded, with links to each one on the OMB website.
To scan the list, click here.
OMB also makes several of its circulars available through
a fax-on-demand system. To access this system, call (202) 395-9068.
You can also obtain circulars in hard copy by calling (202)
Larry Irving to Leave NTIA
Larry Irving, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Telecommunications and Information and head of NTIA, will leave the Department at the end of the summer. He will be succeeded by Gregory L. Rohde, Senior Legislative Assistant to Democratic Senator Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota.
Irving was appointed by President Clinton in 1993. He played a major role in the Administration's efforts to bring about the most sweeping reform of U.S. telecommunications law in 60 years, the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He was also a key proponent within the Clinton-Gore Administration of policies designed to promote diversity in the commercial broadcast arena and to increase opportunities for minorities and women in the emerging digital economy.
Secretary Daley, in accepting Irving's resignation, said: "Larry has been a tremendous asset to the Department of Commerce. He has been a master at crafting the Administration's telecommunications policy in a way that the resulting vast economic benefits will be accessible to Americans from all walks of life. I wish him well in his future endeavors."
During his six-year tenure at the Commerce Department, Irving earned a reputation as an international leader in telecommunications and information policy. He worked to open foreign markets to the U.S. telecommunications industry, secure better protection for consumers, and open up advanced telecommunications services to rural and other underserved areas of the country.
Irving's successor, Gregory Rohde has served as Senator Dorgan's chief policy advisor on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which includes technology and telecommunications issues. He has contributed to significant legislation including, the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Before joining Senator Dorgan's staff, he served as a Team Coordinator for the Health Care Financing Administration on the Transition team for the Clinton-Gore Administration.
Mr. Rohde received a Bachelor of Science in Education from North Dakota State University and a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from Catholic University of America in 1988.
TIIAP's Evaluation Report Is Here
Produced under a contract to Westat, a research and consulting firm in Rockville, Maryland, the Report focuses on the activities and achievements of TIIAP's FY94 and FY95 grantees. The evaluation provides the first comprehensive look at the impact of TIIAP's investment and the specific value added by the TIIAP funds.
The Report's table of contents, Executive Summary, each of the seven chapters, and the appendices are all available for online reading or downloading in Adobe .PDF format. In addition, you can download all of the Report's sections in one compressed (.ZIP) file.
We have also posted a number of Case Studies produced by Westat to accompany the Evaluation Report. Currently, there are case studies, viewable in Adobe .PDF format, for:
Next Generation Internet and Internet2
In his 1998 State of the Union Address, President Clinton urged that "we should enable all the world's people to explore the far reaches of cyberspace" by stepping up support for building the next generation Internet.
To realize this goal, the (www.ngi.gov/) Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative was established as a multi-agency Federal research and development program to develop advanced networking technologies, explore revolutionary applications that require advanced networking, and demonstrate these capabilities on testbeds that are 100 to 1,000 times faster end-to-end than today's Internet.
Complementing the NGI initiative, Internet2 is a collaborative effort by more than 120 American universities, working with partners in industry and government, to develop advanced Internet technologies and applications to support the research and education missions of higher education. Internet2 is a project of the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID).
The Federal NGI initiative and the university-led Internet2
are designed to complement one another:
To find out more about Internet2, contact UCAID at (202) 872-9119.
NKLA on a Community Treasure Hunt
The Microsoft Foundation has awarded $75,000 to 1998 TIIAP grantee the University of California at Los Angeles to support "MS.ANNA (Mapping System for Analyzing Neighborhood Assets) in South Central Los Angeles.
Grant funds will be used to develop an internet-based software application and training program to help youth in Vernon Central conduct a community "treasure hunt," posting their discoveries on an electronic map. The Microsoft grant directly complements both the TIIAP-supported Neighborhood Knowledge Los Angeles project and other community activities supported by the Fannie Mae Foundation under its University-Community partnership program.
"We hope that the development and pilot use of this new tool in South Central Los Angeles will in time be replicated by youth groups throughout the city," said Dr. Neal Richman of UCLA's Advanced Policy Institute and project director for Neighborhood Knowledge Los Angeles. "Thus, we seek to assist [Los Angeles youth] in building a new composite map of our city: I AM LA (Integrated Asset Map of Los Angeles)."
Local Online Service Goes Statewide
The Jones Center for Families in Fayetteville, Arkansas, a 1998 TIIAP grantee, uses networking technology to coordinate services to address long-term needs of families and individuals. The Center's community-wide social services network, the Client Referral Network, serves four counties in rural northwest Arkansas and is accessible online or by a toll-free telephone call.
In an effort to develop a new paradigm for human service delivery to families in need, more than 60 offices in northwest Arkansas now share information about their human service referrals via the Internet. Instead of a traditional categorical, program-based, approach to service delivery, the Jones Center and its partners have developed an Internet-based collaborative of local service providers. The introduction of this new tool is changing the way human services are provided — from one dependent on eligibility and red tape to a seamless system based on personal need.
The Arkansas Department of Information Systems (DIS) announced recently that the state is ready to expand the pilot project statewide, making Arkansas the first state to implement such an innovative approach to administering help to their citizens in need.
In the future, the network is expected to include industry in order to coordinate job placement with the specific needs of industry.
Eight other states are looking into the use of the Internet to increase communication with offices that are geographically separated and dependent on a variety of funding sources. To date, Arkansas is the only state to demonstrate that collaboration with diverse groups is both a feasible and cost effective means of effecting social change.
YorkCan Uses PalmPilots to Gather Data
PalmPilots, little hand-held computers, are being used to collect data from the 60-block area covered by the 1998 TIIAP grant to the York Community Access Network Technology Center. Volunteers are learning to use the little computers to go out into the community and ask relevant questions regarding shopping habits, perceived neighborhood needs, how many community residents businesses employ, what jobs are available, and what prospective employers look for in an employee.
Heather Wisnom, project director, is confident the collected data will show a "wealth of skill and experience" among the residents in the downtown area of South George Street. "The information will be used to benefit the community — to improve the quality of life here," she said.
Once the data is collected, five computers will be placed throughout the 60-block area for residents to use. They will be able to access information about housing, educational opportunities, child care, jobs, and other services. They will also be able to read and send email, send resumes to potential employers, and get information about community activities.
Distance Learning and Telemedicine
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service is making $150 million in Treasury rate loans and $12.5 million in grants available for distance learning and telemedicine projects serving rural America.
Three categories of financing are available: Grants ($7.5 million); Combinations ($5 million in grants paired with $50 million in loans); and Loans ($100 million).
The program funds projects which are primarily "dynamic"; i.e., "systems which deliver critically needed educational and medical services in rural areas through structured interactive educational training and/or medical professional presence over distances." There is an emphasis on networks of multiple sites over a geographic area, rather than on standalone entities. Projects are also required to be self-sustaining.
The filing deadline for 100 percent grant financing is July 9, 1999. The applications will be scored competitively, with a maximum award of $350,000.
Combination and Loan applications may be submitted at any time during the fiscal year ending September 30, 1999, and will be processed and approved on a first-come, first-served basis.
For more information, including copies of the regulations and an application guide, call Lawrence L. Bryant, Chief, DLT Branch, at (202) 720-0413, or click here to visit their website.
Computers Not Just for Science Anymore
Computers just don't compute anymore; they communicate visually and with audio. And this is beginning to have great effect on the arts and how schools are teaching art.
TIIAP's support of the (www.state.vt.us/vermont-arts/vtmap/) Millenium Arts Project, a program of the (www.state.vt.us/vermont-arts/) Vermont Arts Council, is a case in point. TIIAP funds are bringing arts-related computer technology into local schools across the state, and linking students with professional artists, writers, and musicians.
The project seeks to increase public support for arts education, improve opportunities for students to learn the arts, and increase access to and use of technology as a tool for arts education. All of the activities are based on the assumption that high quality arts education discussions through on-line communities help students strengthen their performance in arts and other areas of learning.
In a mostly rural state, using computers is a great way to bridge distances and reach more kids. Through online access, students can show their work to mentors around the state, artists and musicians who can offer insight and criticism to supplement that of their teachers. A watercolor, for example, can be photographed and then scanned into a computer where a number of expert eyes can take a look.
"This project builds on a strong tradition of Vermont leadership in assessing student progress in the arts," said Dawn Ellis, education coordinator at the Arts Council. "By the time students reach high school, they will have compiled a rich, digitized portfolio of their best artistic creations over the years. By sharing work online, students, teachers, and artists join in a statewide discussion about what students should know and be able to do in the arts."
Technology Excellence in West Virginia
On February 16, 1999, West Virginia Governor Cecil Underwood presented "Excellence in Technology" awards to the collaborators in the development of EqualNet, a TIIAP-supported online clearinghouse for business and information services.
EqualNet is a partnership among four West Virginia technology organizations, including the West Virginia High Technology Consortium, in Fairmont, West Virginia. The goal of the project is to increase small business growth and provide community access to new technologies and technology training through Technology Opportunity Centers (TOCs) and computer training courses. To date, 18 TOCs have opened in nine southern West Virginia counties.
"[EqualNet] provides the kind of information that anyone who starts a small business needs to have access to," said Sam Tully, Chief Technology Officer for the state of West Virginia. "It is important to remember that about 80 percent of the people who are employed in the state of West Virginia are employed in small business."
In addition to TIIAP support, EqualNet also receives funding from the United States Department of Education.
Grants for Community Technology
The United States Department of Education's Community Technology Centers program is designed "to promote the development of model programs that demonstrate the educational effectiveness of technology in urban and rural areas and economically distressed communities." Community Technology Centers will "provide access to information technology and related learning services to children and adults."
Three-year grants will be awarded on a conmpetitive basis by the Department of Education's Office of Vocational and Adult Education. State educational agencies, local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, or other public and private nonprofit or for-profit agencies and organizations are eligible to apply.
The Department will be conducting Application Workshops on May 7-12, 1999, in Dallas, Brooklyn, Chicago, and Los Angeles. There will also be a CTC Applicant Workshop Teleconference on Friday, May 21, 1999, between 2:00-3:00 p.m EDST. For more information on the teleconference, you can contact Will Saunders at (202) 205-5698 or send him an email at email@example.com.
The deadline for proposals is June 14, 1999, with grant awards to be announced on August 31, 1999.
OK-First a Semi-Finalist at Harvard
("http://radar.metr.ou.edu/OK1/OK1.html") OK-First, a TIIAP public safety grantee, has been selected as a semi-finalist in Harvard University's Innovations in Government awards. Sponsored by the John F.Kennedy School of Government, the awards highlight innovative government programs.
OK-FIRST was one of the top 100 programs selected as a semi-finalist out of a pool of more than 1,600 applicants. Congratulations!
And congratulations to OK-FIRST for a job well done during the recent May 3 tornado outbreak in Oklahoma, when OK-FIRST computers served 45,000 radar files in 24 hours for use by local public safety officials.
$10 Million for HUBS Funding
Congressman Curt Weldon (R-PA), who represents portions of Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties, announced that $10 million in funding for the HUBS project was included in the FY 1999 Defense Appropriation Act as part of the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Next Generation Internet program. The funds are awaiting distribution by the Pentagon.
HUBS (Hospitals, Universities, Businesses, and Schools) is an effort to create a high-speed, regional information technology infrastructure for the four-state region of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The $10 million marks a significant increase over its FY 1998 funding, which consisted of a $5 million grant from the Department of Education and a $2 million contract from DARPA's Next Generation Internet program. HUBS is managed by the Valley Forge Office of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).
"One of the areas which HUBS will greatly expand", according to Congressman Weldon, "is the 'H' part of the HUBS project. To this end, it is anticipated that a significant portion of the HUBS' FY99 funding will be used for seed activities to create of a secured virtual medical data bank, one in which a number of health systems throughout the four states will be working together with HUBS, so that activities such as 'anywhere and anytime' telehealth in urban, suburban, and rural environments can be instituted."
"This data bank will have a major role in ensuring the first responders to any disaster situation. . . . It will also play an important role in allowing the region's medical experts to track potential infectious disease breakouts while ensuring that the privacy and anonymity of patients are protected."
Another area of increased activities in the HUBS project will be to enhance the HUBS information technology as a means to attract additional activities in the national missile defense (NMD) program to the four-state region. "Having world-class universities such as CMU, University of Maryland, University of Pennslvania, Drexel, Princeton and Rutgers, and defense installations such as Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University, the Center for Composite Materials of the University of Delaware, the Applied Research Laboratory of Penn State University and the Communication and Electronic Command Center of Fort Monmouth, we have the technological strengths in our backyard", according to Congressman Weldon.
Digital States in a Digital Age
"The states have entered the Digital Age." This is the dramatic conclusion presented in The Digital State 1998: How State Governments Are Using Digital Technology, a new report by the Progress and Freedom Foundation. The executive summary — with tables and graphs — is posted online; a full copy of the report is available for purchase from the Foundation.
The Foundation, a conservative organization founded in 1993 to study the digital revolution and its implications for public policy, argues forcefully that "state governments are recognizing the implications of the shift to an information-based economy and culture, which is being ushered in by digital technologies." The challenge for leaders in the states, the report concludes, "is now to learn from one another, and hopefully from [the report's] findings, to implement technology in a way that makes government more efficient and that better serves citizens’ needs."
In the areas of Digital Democracy; Higher Education; K-12
Education; Business Regulation; Taxation; Social Services;
Law and the Courts; and Other Initiatives, The Digital State identifies
two major themes:
The Importance of InfrastructureThe Digital State was prepared in conjunction with Government Technology magazine. Cindy Crandall, a Research Associate at the Progress and Freedom Foundation, was the primary investigator and overall project leader. Brad Lips, also a PFF Research Associate, was the project researcher; interns on the project were Karmo Kroos and Richard Reinsch. Dennis McKenna, CEO and editor in chief of Government Technology, provided input and advice, and with additional contributions from Cathilea Robinette. The report incorporates data and other input from a number of state chief information officers as well.
An Online Assessment Tutorial
A 1996 TIIAP-supported project, the Boston Public Schools, has developed an online ("http://hgseclass.harvard.edu/t525/staff/kirsten/") Assessment Tutorial. The site is designed to provide TIIAP teams with clear information and guided practice concerning upcoming project assessment.
Users can easily find answers to frequently asked questions; to keep abreast of important TIIAP dates; familiarize themselves with School-to-Work, Project Based Learning, and Boston Citywide Standard frameworks; and complete the tutorial focusing on the packaging and presenting of their work.
It's a useful model and definitely worth a look.
Statistics, Statistics, Statistics
If you're looking for statistics on unemployment, wildlife, bankruptcy, substance abuse, banking, or aging, try logging onto (www.lib.umich.edu/libhome/Documents.center/frames/statsfr.html) Statistical Resources on the Web. This incredibly useful resource is maintained by the (www.lib.umich.edu/libhome/Documents.center/index.html) University of Michigan Documents Center.
Recent additions (July, 1998) include the Africa Business Network (basic economic and investment data for individual countries in Africa, guidance on investment procedures, etc.); the Better Business Bureau (news reports on current scams, tips on common consumer issues, and advice to businesses on such things as handling of unruly customers); and VoteNet (including books, think tanks, political strategists and pollsters, issues research, etc.).
Once you've logged onto the site, you'll be able to browse census information, data on income and government finances, information on telecommunications, statistics on births and deaths, population trends, or valuable information on more than 200 other topics.
Get Ready for Zeum!
For a behind-the-scenes tour of Zeum, San Francisco's innovative new art and technology center for young people (and a 1997 TIIAP grantee) which opened to the public on October 17, check out their website.
Zeum will be presenting programs in the visual, performing, and media arts, with kids working on projects as diverse as video/audio production, webcasting, and animation.
Zeum's interactive website allows you to take a virtual walk through their 34,000 square foot facility to see the many ways kids and teens can explore the visual, performing, and media arts.
Included in the tour is:
a look at the dramatic, spiraling lobby which serves as a gateway to Zeum, as well as a way to view collaborative works between local filmmakers and youth;
The Arts: On-Site and On-Line
How can site-based arts organizations - museums and performing arts presenters - best employ new technologies and the Internet to engage K-12 students in learning and experiencing the Arts?
A new website at the University of California at Berkeley attempts to provide some answers. The product of a year-long collaboration among the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, Cal Performances, and K-12 teachers from several schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, the site contains project descriptions, links to case studies, and a list of suggested "promising practices" for using the Internet to foster improved education and collaboration between arts organizations and schools.
The information and recommendations presented are intended for use by K-12 teachers looking for educational resources on the Internet; museums and arts organizations creating educational electronic resources; performing arts institutions, museums, and K-12 schools planning collaborative educational projects using technology and the Internet; and the larger community of individuals and organizations wishing to make effective use of electronic educational materials.
The project was carried on under the umbrella of UC Berkeley's Interactive University Project. If you have questions regarding the project, contact Richard Rinehart at the University of California. Mr. Rinehart is Information Systems Manager and Education Technology Specialist at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive and President-Elect of the Museum Computer Network, a former TIIAP grantee.
Austin's Community Policing Partnership
The Austin Free-Net recently signed an agreement with the Austin Police Department to build out its network to six neighborhoods in East Austin, Texas. The goal is to use information infrastructure to enhance community policing efforts in the city.
A major objective of the partnership is to add to Austin Free-Net's existing community development work by providing places (both physical and virtual) where citizens can interact with the Austin Police officers serving their neighborhoods.
The Austin Free-Net will install and maintain its network in six East Austin neighborhood facilities, providing public access to computer technology and the Internet. The Free-Net will also train officers in the use of the Internet.
Cybercafes as Community Networks
The latest issue of NetAction Notes carries an article on Cybercafes which may be of some interest to folks working in Community Networking.
Christopher D. Frankonis of the (www.millennium-cafe.com) Millennium Cafe has launched a new list dedicated to discussing "how cybercafes can position themselves as hubs of community activity, and activism."
Among the questions Frankonis addresses are:
Can cybercafes play some of the roles of the more traditional community computer networks?List information is on the web at http://www.millennium-cafe.com/cybercafe-community/.
Rural People and Communications Policy
Rural communities often overlooked in the information age will have a direct connection to state and national policy-makers through a new program funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Called "Managing Information with Rural America" (MIRA), the initiative will link specific clusters of rural communities with national and regional organizations with expertise in communications policy, technology, and grassroots organizing.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has designated the Forum and CTCNet as two of the "policy support organizations" in this national collaborative project. The partners will redistribute grants totaling $70,000 to rural communities over two years, assist communities in developing and implementing specific communications public policy projects, involve the rural communities in the national and state communications policy debate, and create and manage an online public policy school which will serve as an ongoing resource to all rural communities and other grassroots communications organizers.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation's grants are concentrated in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and southern Africa. The Civil Rights Forum, a project of the Tides Center, connects communications policy to the needs of minority and poor communities through national networking, research, public policy monitoring and action, and local organizing.
For more information on the project, go to the Civil Rights Forum website, or contact:
THE CIVIL RIGHTS FORUM
You can also contact Barry Forbes at:
Technology and Community Assets
It's no secret that technology has redefined how much of American society interacts. Hardware, software, and unprecedented access to information through the Internet and CD-ROMs have given Americans extraordinary tools with which to improve their economic condition and compete in the global marketplace.
It's also no secret that for whatever reason this technological revolution has not yet had a significant effect on distressed, urban neighborhoods. Community and individual access to information technology is limited, few software applications are dedicated to helping nonprofits revitalize neighborhoods, and information about best practices – what actually works – historically has not been widely available.
The South George Street Community Partnership in York, Pennsylvania, is a neighborhood revitalization plan based on The Enterprise Foundation's innovative asset building model. Called the York Community Asset Network (YorkCAN), the project is based on the premise that the only successful way to revitalize a community is to develop a coherent strategy for building both individual and community assets.
Most of the information management systems currently in place depend on personal contact and are not always efficient, inclusive, timely, or accurate. The TIIAP-funded project will create an efficient, interactive information management system that will allow the South George Street neighborhood to build its capacity to increase assets and systematically revitalize the neighborhood.
The technology connects people to goals and projects in seven priority areas: land use, housing, economic development, health and human services, education, safety, and leadership development. Residents will also gain hands-on experience with computers. The South George Street project provides an ideal test of a neighborhood revitalization model that can be used in large and small communities throughout the country.
The Inner-City Net
The Inner-City Net was created by the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee (MAAC Project), a community-based non-profit organization in San Diego County. The seed funding provided by TIIAP has been matched, to date, by support from Pacific Bell, MAAC, Girard Foundation and Parker Foundation. The objectives are to provide Internet access, training and content to some of the poorest neighborhoods in San Diego.
Inner-City Net is a collaboration of six community organizations, each with a specific ethnic focus: Latino, African-American, Pan-Asian, or Native American. Each organization received a Macintosh Power PC, 28.8 modem, and dial-up online access from a local Internet Service Provider. Sites contribute the local phone costs, a desk and space for the computer, and one or more staff to serve as Site Coordinators.
This summer, over 120 students, small business owners, agency staff and CEOs received training in Web navigation and electronic mail. Instruction continued over the fall with intensive small-group sessions and one-on-one guidance. Some staffers were mastering basic computer skills, such as mouse operation and window manipulation, at the same time they were learning advanced applications. Site Coordinators and agency staff began to use the computer with their clients as they became comfortable with the process. Now, sites are increasing their outreach and promoting the service to draw walk-in users from community residents and neighboring businesses.
The beauty of the Inner-City Net is its multiculturalism and ability to tie organizations together. Collaboration is taking place intra-agency, as communication is facilitated from staffer to staffer, and inter-agency, as agencies connect to each other. The Inner-City Net has also served as a catalyst for other regional initiatives, linking schools to funding sources and contractors to jobs.
The Inner-City Net intentionally chose to begin with access, followed by training, followed by customized content. This gave people who had not experienced the Internet a chance to explore "what's out there," and provide feedback on what they'd like to see. The main content areas requested at this point are entry-level local jobs, followed by updates on community resources, services provided by local agencies, family and healthcare information, and discussion forums. Since other San Diego organizations are providing the job data, the Inner-City Net is designing a web page that will point to existing resources while providing the new information requested.
Challenges to date have included the ups and downs of start-up funding, a few technical hurdles, and the search for the "killer application" that will motivate users to adopt and integrate technology. We have found that access needs to be as effortless as possible. The "click and go" approach of commercial services like America Online is an enviable model. Training is essential, and best linked to simple personal or professional goals. Compelling content, the next frontier, needs to exist to pull users online, once they have the technical skills and access.
Achievements are both large and small. A recent grant will enable three more sites to come online within the next month, while also providing funds for community training in Spanish and English and specialized training for a youth group, the Loganettes Girls Club, to become computer mentors and forum managers. Inner-City Net managers have also cheered other successes the first e-mail sent by a social service agency to the local United Way came from an Inner-City Net site, the time saved by downloading census data instead of driving to City Hall, the Indian Human Resource Center coordinating its pow-wows electronically, and agencies working together in ways we didn't even envision.
Perhaps most important, we're all having fun!
RuralTeleCon - October 20-21, 1997
A National Conference at
The Aspen Institute, Aspen Meadows
Rural America is alive with the initiative of grassroots organizations creatively applying telecommunications to community and economic development. These grassroots initiatives are supported both locally and by state-and-national-level webs of funding and policy organizations. The challenges and opportunities at the local level provide lessons learned and best practices models that are globally relevant. Sharing these experiences provides guidance, motivation, and inspiration for action on the part of colleague organizations.
RuralTeleCon, a national conference on the use of electronic communications and information systems for rural community development, provides this vital networking opportunity to its participants. Drawing on the broad range of perspectives of conference participants (including practicioners, policy makers, and government agencies), RuralTeleCon will provide a forum for interaction, benchmarking the state-of-the-art in rural practice, and providing a record to share with others.
The conference will consist of:
• keynote on technology's impact
on rural development
For more information on registration, transportation, accommodations, and conference speakers:
An ARTSFEST Online!
Through a collaboration of TIIAP grantee the Soundprint Media Center and public radio and television stations across the country, Internet users around the world will have access to today's great entertainers and artists from August 18 to Labor Day. ARTSFEST.ORG is public broadcasting's first collaborative online arts festival. Highlights will include Garrison Keillor live at the Minnesota State Fair discovering what it takes to be a real Minnesotan, a glimpse into the Los Angeles theater scene with Lauren Bacall, Jerry Stiller, Julie Kavner and Walter Matthau; jazz from the best clubs in New Orleans, stand-up comedy from coast to coast, and a cowboy poetry festival from Boulder, Colorado. ARTSFEST.ORG visitors can also participate in a quiz show, right from their keyboard!
ARTSFEST.ORG will present local, regional, and international performances through audio and video streaming. Stations providing performances to the summer online multimedia event include Minnesota Public Radio, KCRW (Los Angeles), WWOZ (New Orleans), KUOW (Seattle), WGBH (Boston), WETA (Washington), Vermont Public Radio, WUOB (Athens, OH), WHRO (Norfolk), WRTI (Philadelphia), Louisiana Public Broadcasting, WABE (Atlanta), KGNU (Boulder), Hawaii Public Radio, and West Virginia Public Radio.
Each audio and video performance will be synchronized with program notes, playbills, images, ticket stubs, press articles, even crowd noise. Users will be given tours as they listen or watch, taken backstage to chat with hosts and performers, and can even buy a souvenir t-shirt and send postcards to friends and family. To facilitate what is expected to be high demand for some of the events, the consortium is networked to combine bandwidth. Up to 800 users will be able to access the material simultaneously through mirroring software developed by SOUNDPRINT.
ARTSFEST.ORG is a project of the Soundprint Media Center and the consortium of public broadcasting stations, and is funded by TIIAP and the Radio Program Fund of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Blacksburg Sends a Message
In a front page article in the (www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/frompost/features/may97/blacksburg.htm) Washington Post, Rajiv Chandrasekaran writes that "[w]hen it comes to predicting how people will use the Internet over the next few years," residents of Blacksburg, Virginia, "a bucolic college town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains may be some of the best lab rats."
Through the efforts of Blacksburg Electronic Village, a 1995 TIIAP grantee, "more than half of the town’s 37,000 residents are regular users of the global computer network, making this community, on a per-capita basis, one of the world’s most wired places."
Check out the full text of the article by clicking on the link above, or browse the Post web site at www.washingtonpost.com
A Model Training Program in DC
Check out the March 7, 1997, edition of the Washington Post, which features a profile in its Business section of TIIAP grantee Archie Prioleau, whom the Post describes as "a retired computer executive [who] has become a matchmaker."
In the article ("Hire Education at Ballou"), reporter Peter Behr describes Prioleau's efforts to hook up seniors at Washington, DC's Ballou High School with Virginia technology companies desperate to hire entry-level computer network technicians.
"Almost overnight," Behr writes, "the Ballou project has become a model for a much more extensive program that some community leaders hope to create to prepare DC students and residents for technology-based careers. . . . Such school-community partnerships have the support of Julius W. Becton Jr., who took over control of the District school system in November, and other community leaders."
In attempting to deal with "the uncertainty and frustration of introducing technology into classrooms in ways that improve education," Prioleau has focused on "allowing these children to become self-sufficient."
As part of his FY1994 TIIAP award, Prioleau was able to install computers and a technology curriculum at the Roper School in Washington. Students in this new project will study a curriculum designed by Novell, Inc. Novell is donating software and other teaching and student materials. Students who pass a standard Novell exam will be certified as computer network administrators. Those who pass the first-level exams can keep on going through higher levels of certification.
Making THE NET Work
Terry Grunwald, Project Director for the NCexChange project in Raleigh, North Carolina, spoke recently at the Alliance for Public Technology's Seventh Annual Conference in Washington, DC. She talked about the Community Information Broker project, funded in 1994 as a TIIAP planning grant. The purpose of the project was to define how Community Information Brokers would serve as technology champions in underserved communities by helping community-based nonprofits, local government agencies, and women and minority-owned small businesses apply the benefits of telecommunications to community problem-solving. The project employed focus groups, working groups, and specialized training to determine the viability of the model and to create guidelines for implementation.
A major product of the grant was the development of a guide: Making THE NET Work: On-line Strategies for Community-Based Organizations, which provides practical information on (1) understanding the potential benefits of electronic networking; (2) assessing the compelling reasons to network; (3) comprehending the barriers; (4) developing strategic networking plans; (5) learning the best ways to use Internet tools; and (6) using a community networking "toolbox". The guide is 130 pages and includes 21 worksheets and an appendix of online resources. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information on ordering the guide.
The Community Information Broker model, now known as the Community NETworker project, was funded by TIIAP in Fiscal Year 1996 as a demonstration project. It is being implemented in four North Carolina communities. Contact Terry Grunwald, NCexChange Project Director at 919-856-2176, or email@example.com for more information.
Real Radio on Charlotte's Web
When you log on to (www.charweb.org) Charlotte's Web, you can tune in to public radio station WFAE-FM to hear news features and commentaries. You'll need the Real Player (which now handles both video and audio) from RealAudio. Downloading and installation are easy.
Give it a try.
And, of course, with the Real Player, you can sample the offerings of the Soundprint Media Center as well.
Four TIIAP-Funded Projects Win NII Awards
The NII Awards Program recognizes models of information technology applications in nine categories: Arts & Entertainment; Business; Children; Community; Health; Next Generation; Special Awards; Telecollaboration; and Public Access. Four of the ten organizations receiving 1996 NII Awards for extraordinary achievement on the Internet were awarded seed money from the United States Department of Commerce through the Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (TIIAP).
The four TIIAP-funded projects are:
Charlotte's Web Charlotte's Web, Building Communities of Hope in Charlotte, NC, was recognized as a regional community network to help people use telecommunications technology to improve their lives and foster civic involvement.
(www.cpmc.columbia.edu/appldinf) Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center Columbia-Presbyterian's Applied Informatics project is using wireless telecommunications, hand-held and pen-operated computers, expert systems, and the World Wide Web to provide an electronic link between the homes of patients and the medical professionals and institutions that treat them.
East Palo Alto Gets Plugged In Plugged In is a community-wide network of human and electronic resources created to enable the 23,500 residents of East Palo Alto to participate in the Information Revolution.
National Adoption Center The National Adoption Center's FACES of Adoption: America's Waiting Children is using the Internet to find homes for more than 300 older children from around the country who are in foster homes waiting to be adopted.
"The awards to these organizations which received assistance from the TIIAP are a credit to the program and help focus attention on the important work done by grant recipients across the country," said Larry Irving, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
The NII Awards Program is supported by industry's leading technology companies and solution providers. Bob Costas, noted sportscaster and commentator, who hosted the awards ceremony for the awardees, called the winners "Champions of Cyberspace."
The list of winners can be seen at: http://www.gii-awards.com/winnerz.html
Mississippi Students Are a Hit in Tampa
The Mississippi Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology, received a grant from TIIAP in 1995 to create ("http://mdek12.state.ms.us/concom.htm")Connecting Communities a "learning partnership" among parents, children, schools, libraries, and community organizations to bring computer access to five low-income rural communities. The project sets an example of how states can provide affordable, high quality Internet access to rural communities. The following is a letter that Larry Irving, NTIA Administrator, received from one of the project directors.
Dear Mr. Irving,
I wanted to let you know what a hit our students were at the ISTE conference in Tampa, Florida, last week. Helen Soulé and I gave a presentation on the grant and the students from Winona, MS, along with their Tech Advisor, Tommy Wolfe, went with us. Everyone that attended was so excited to talk to the students about their training in networking, home pages, and telecommunications. People from across the country have asked me to write some models that led to our successful training. I have a list of people that want to stay in contact with us so that they can try to recreate our project in their state.
You would have been even prouder if you heard all the students begin most of their sentences with, "We have a grant from the Dept. of Commerce..." or "Thanks to NTIA we have learned..." I was very proud of all of them!
Thank you for all that you and your staff have done for us.
The (www.mdek12.state.ms.us/oet.htm) Mississippi Department of Education Office of Educational Technology maintains website at http://www.mdek12.state.ms.us/oet.htm
"Building Smart Communities"
Building Smart Communities, a new publication from the International Center for Communications at San Diego State University, offers guidance on "how California's communities can thrive in the digital age." This colorful "framework for an Americas information initiative" offers case studies on 15 "new forms of civic organization." Six of them are TIIAP grantees!
The report makes for interesting reading. Check out their web site:
TINCAN Reaches Out to Rural Washington
TINCAN (The Inland Northwest Community Access Network) serves a region covering more than 10,000 square miles, stretching from the Canadian border southward to mid-Washington state. The network serves the mid-sized city of Spokane, and seven surrounding very rural counties. These rural counties, while some of the most ruggedly mountainous and beautiful in the region, are economically depressed.
In some of these counties, unemployment hovers in the double digits (the highest in the state of Washington) while per capita income is the lowest. Many of the urban neighborhoods served have the highest free and reduced lunch rate in the state of Washington. Universal access for TINCAN has thus meant stretching out to rural areas as well as providing public access and education to those who cannot otherwise afford to connect.
Prior to TINCAN's coming online, Internet was virtually non-existent outside of Spokane, with the exception of those few individuals willing to pay high long distance charges. TINCAN now covers much of its rural region with local dial-in, providing service by establishing creative partnerships with organizations having T1 service to rural areas (community colleges, business, etc.), and riding their lines in exchange for access for their staff/students. In the wake of TINCAN's expansion to rural areas, Internet service providers (ISP) have sprung to take advantage of the market for Internet services stimulated by the presence of the community network. Rather than being competitive with our free public access network, both they and many of the Spokane-based ISPs collaborate with TINCAN by providing free web pages to some local non-profits, relieving TINCAN staff of maintaining those sites while allowing us to include those resources in our menu structure.
TINCAN also covers the region with public access sites in both rural and urban settings, including libraries, community centers, senior centers, Community-Oriented Policing (COP) shops, as well as cafes, and a bookstore. Many of these sites receive almost constant use. One of our most creative public access sites is an incarcerated women's pre-release center, where the women are helping neighborhoods get local information online -- both providing a public service and mastering computer skills as well.
TINCAN's director is Dr. Karen Michaelson
Soundprint Takes the NII Global
Thanks to funding to the Soundprint Media Center for the Global Public Telecommunications Network, public broadcasting has moved into a whole new way of delivering information. The GPTN reaches beyond the traditional public broadcasting audience to assure low-cost public access to online information through public broadcasting stations, libraries, local governments, and more.
The GPTN provides communities with a central hub, where users can learn about national events, and local issues, and meet people with common interests.
Recently, Soundprint and the GPTN stations produced a host of exciting activities centered around the recent election. The Election Project involved GPTN station staff hosting chats using SOUNDPRINT CHAT, a software program specially developed with matching funds provided by the PEW Charitable Trusts.
The Election Chats allowed stations to highlight critical issues in their community for local and national participants. SOUNDPRINT CHAT supports an unlimited number of people and makes moderating an interactive interview simple.
The use of the software for Election Chats provided a look at local races around the country in a national context, and a way to use the new technology to promote democracy and citizen interaction. In an election season in which many issues did not receive thoughtful attention, SMCI and the participating stations offered a distinct forum to examine an important topic.
New technology can be employed in the service of democracy . . . and that's what SMCI proved with this Election Project chat series. As a result of the GPTN network, SMCI has received a Department of Education grant called The Education Connection. The project involves creating exciting interactive curricula for schools that serve at-risk populations. Three GPTN stations are involved in the DOE grant. WHRO-FM in Norfolk, VA, Louisiana Public Broadcasting, and KCRW-FM, Los Angeles are partnering with K-12 schools in their local communities.
The GPTN also involves arts and science organizations like Hispanic Radio Network, the Fitzgerald Theatre, Ohio University College of Osteopathic medicine, and Philadelphias Jazz Institute, and the Jazz Radio Consortium, among others. GPTN software has allowed their projects to be posted on the Internet and available to a much wider audience.
WHRO-FM/TV in Norfolk, Virginia is one station that has benefited tremendously from the GPTN project. WHRO begun to explore ways of incorporating RealAudio and SOUNDPRINT CHAT into local programming. WHRO plans to incorporate the software into the award winning show, School Talk. SOUNDPRINT CHAT will also be incorporated into a new program, Hear Say, which will debut in October.
("http://22.214.171.124/")Minnesota Public Radio in Saint Paul, Minnesota is another valuable contributor to the GPTN. Almost simultaneous with the installation of servers at MPR, the Fitzgerald Theater was brought into the information age with the completion of a fiber-optic connection to the theater and incorporation of the house into the MPR local area network. These advances have set the stage for MPR to offer live-from-the-theater "netcasts" of A Prairie Home Companion and other events.
Another major online feature during this quarter was an online version of Stephen Smith's documentary about lives in Sarajevo: Face of Mercy, Face of Hate The Web site feature was not verbatim repetition of the audio story, but its own document with integrated narrative and images with addition of video and audio components that expanded considerably beyond the broadcast version.
The next step for the GPTN project is mirroring, a step that will make the project truly an interactive network. The individual hubs will soon be mirroring each others content.
SMCI, a public radio and new media production company based in Washington, DC, produces innovative online educational and community service projects, as well as public radio's most widely listened to documentary series. The radio program, SOUNDPRINT, is broadcast weekly on public radio stations nationwide.
NetWellness Wins Technology Award
The University of Cincinnati Medical Center's NetWellness team, funded by TIIAP in Fiscal Year 1994, was recently chosen as the 1997 ISI/Frank Bradway Rogers Information Advancement Award recipient by the Medical Library Association. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the application of technology to delivery of health sciences information, to the science of information, or to facilitating delivery of health sciences information.
Providing easily understood health information directly to community residents so that they can better manage their own health care was the purpose behind the NetWellness system. The two and one-half year-old health information system is a community-based, publicly and privately funded, electronic consumer health information service for the residents of southern Ohio and the Cincinnati tri-state region.
The system has public access computers strategically located in public libraries, senior centers, hospital lobbies, and pharmacies. Many NetWellness resources are also accessible via the World Wide Web. NetWellness contains 14 medical books and more than 300 health magazines useful to consumers, plus thousands of consumer pamphlets from organizations like the Arthritis Foundation and the American Lung Association. A special feature includes "Ask the Expert," which allows users to ask specific health questions anonymously and online. Panels of pharmacists, nurses, and physicians post answers within 24 to 48 hours.
You can contact Netwellness at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the World Wide Web at http://www.netwellness.org.
Plugged In Continues to Grow!
Plugged In, a 1996 NII Award winner and a Fiscal Year 1995 TIIAP grantee, is dedicated to bringing the technological resources available in Silicon Valley to low-income youth and families in East Palo Alto, California. Plugged In's projects, done by young people and community members, include classes, a drop-in center, an after-school program, community networking project, and the four teen businesses.
An exciting recent development has been the launch of Plug In! -- the largest teen show on the Internet, run by 11 incredibly talented teens from East Palo Alto and Palo Alto. Each week, the teen hosts explore a different issue affecting their lives: talking about teens and technology through op-ed pieces, a discussion board, and live online chat shows.
With support from American Online, these 11 young leaders are proving that East Palo Alto can play a leading role in the information age. You can visit the show on American Online at keyword: plugin.
For further information, contact Bart Decrem, Plugged In's Executive Director.
Internet Access for Rural California and Nevada
The Net at Two Rivers, a Sacramento-to-Reno, volunteer-driven partnership, aims to deliver literacy services to adults through a cost-effective regional network, stretching across 16 rural counties in California and Nevada. Within the counties, there are only 17 cities with populations of 25,000 or more. Because of the distance between towns and low population density, people cannot readily access information about jobs, literacy, or social services.
By September, the project plans to open more than 50 public access Internet sites, where people can get free and nonthreatening one-on-one coaching in Internet skills.
"It's designed to give access to people who normally could not afford it, and some of whom do not have the education to know what's available to them," Barb Englund, a project director, told a gathering during a ceremony at the Stockton Boulevard Resource Center one of six sites already open. Such sites offer, by reservation, one-hour training sessions and computer tutorials tailored to people looking for new jobs and training. The subjects include reading skills and job applications.
"The bottom line is that there still are a lot of people out there who don't have access," said Arturo Venegas Jr., Sacramento's Chief of Police. "There's no doubt in my mind that technology is allowing us to maximize our human resources."
Net at Two Rivers could become a powerful tool in the region's economic toolbox, a way to upgrade job skills and help train the work force. The program, under the auspices of the Sacramento County Office of Education, is a 5-year-old dream that became reality last year, when it got a TIIAP grant.
If the Internet needed a testimonial, it got a strong one, in both English and Spanish, from Gemma De Mendoza, a receptionist at the Family Service Agency of Greater Sacramento.
"For me it's like opening an encyclopedia. When I started on the computer it was something like a new world," she said.
Martin Stevenson, an Internet coach at the Family Service Agency public site and one of the dozens of volunteers, said the program aims at removing the fear many adults have of technology.
While some people see the Internet as the latest overblown media phenomenon, Bill Taylor, a Sacramento Police Department analyst who helped set up the local program, gave another view.
"My position is that the Internet at this point is actually underhyped, because within two years it will be a part of normal operations. In business and government, for everybody, it will be like the telephone, just another medium of communication."
The Net at Two Rivers project director is Penny Kastanis.
Recycling Computers in Kalamazoo
(www.telecity.org) Greater Kalamazoo TeleCITY USA, a 1995 TIIAP grantee, and MRC Industries, Inc., are working together to recycle used 386 and 486 computers from major corporations in the Kalamazoo, Michigan, area. MRC Industries, which is also a nonprofit agency, provides training opportunities for persons who are mentally ill, developmentally disabled, or victims of closed head injuries. Many of these individuals can develop skills that can be transferred to supported or independent community employment.
Both MRC and TeleCITY are pledged to serve those who don't have equal advantages; to engage in fund raising efforts that don't conflict with United Way efforts; to utilize community volunteers in meaningful ways; and to provide training opportunities for their respective underserved populations.
Very quickly, MRC and TeleCITY realized the potential for
a joint venture that would provide a positive outcome for
the community and strengthen the financial positions
of both organizations. MRC agreed to pick up used 386 and
486 CPUs, cabling, monitors, printers and keyboards at donor
company warehouses and have their clients complete a refurbishment
process, which includes:
TeleCITY assists with technical training and software issues. Together, TeleCITY and MRC distribute the reconditioned equipment. Plans for distribution of the recycled equipment include: donations to community centers for the underserved and senior citizen centers, grants to economically disadvantaged individuals who successfully complete TeleCITY computer classes, and sales to the general public through secondhand vendors with revenue to be split between MRC and TeleCITY.
Re-deploying used computers provides employment opportunities for MRC's clients; incentives for members of underserved populations to learn and utilize computer skills; and revenue for two local nonprofit organizations
During its first month, the TeleCITY/MRC partnership has successfully secured over 100 computers and monitors and numerous printers. During the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 1997, MRC and TeleCITY will recycle 400 more 386 and 486 computers. A time study of the refurbishment process and technical documentation should be completed by the end of March 1997. Many of these computers have network cards and will be set up in clusters at neighborhood housing and computer centers. Anticipated revenue, after expenses, should exceed $30,000 for the first six months of the partnership.
For further information, contact: Dave Clark, Executive Director, Greater Kalamazoo TeleCITY USA
Southeast Ohio's Web Market
TIIAP's 1995 award to the Southeastern Ohio Regional Free-Net (SEORF) at http://www.seorf.ohiou.edu has spawned an exciting "web-market," the Public WebMarket at http://www.civicnet.org/webmarket. Companies and cottage industries from western North Carolina to northern New Mexico are represented here, selling their wares.
As the Public WebMarket begins its second year of promoting rural entrepreneurs, it supports efforts to create healthy, sustainable communities in depressed rural areas of the United States. The Public WebMarket team of non-profit organizations, community development corporations, and small rural businesses unveiled their new web site this week. Here's an opportunity for you to participate in socially-responsible holiday gift giving and learn how the Internet can be used to help rekindle community economies. The non-profit Public WebMarket is helping both small businesses and community-based economic development organizations experiment with electronic commerce and Internet marketing. Developing these skills can help level the playing field between information haves and have-nots in the new economy.
When you shop at the Public WebMarket, your dollars go directly to locally based, locally owned small businesses all over the country. This website puts you directly in touch with regional bounty including gourmet pickled peppers, delicate paintings on feathers, specialty pasta, Navajo clothing, Hawaiian pareos, hand-crafted pens and euchre sets, miniature wooden vases, museum quality gourds, family farmed macadamia nuts, Kona coffee, cherrywood baskets, unique African heritage playing cards, rare books and more.
In addition, the Public WebMarket features a wealth of local lore about the communities where these unique products are made as well as many local bed and breakfasts available for your vacation planning. Avoid traffic jams at the malls and pick up something truly unique, while learning about the people and culture of rural communities in Hawaii, Ohio, North Carolina and New Mexico. Come "surf the net" and "cruise the stalls" for a new holiday experience.
For more information about SEORF, contact: Amy Borgstrom, Executive Director, Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet), email@example.com.
Grants for Information Technology in Education
The Hitachi Foundation is looking for projects that (1) evaluate the role of technology in teaching and learning; (2) assess the success and challenges of using technology in education; (3) advance current teaching and learning activities; and (4) identify critical gaps in efforts to use technology to strengthen teaching and learning.
The Foundation is particularly interested in projects that "focus on promoting skills needed for effective participation in society, particularly within those populations that have been underserved by traditional institutions and mechanisms."
Organizations need to submit brief Letters of Intent, providing "evidence of how they have used information technologies to achieve specific improvements or advancements in teaching and learning, and to articulate their plans for extending their results and impact."
Educational institutions and non-profit community-based organizations are eligible to apply for grants of between $25,000 and $100,000. Funding from Hitachi can be part of a larger budget. The Foundation expects to make grants to 6-8 organizations "diverse in location, approach, character of collaboration, person, and proposed activities."
Be advised that the grants cannot be used solely for acquiring computer accessories or equipment; for capital improvements; for provision of computer skills; for planning projects; or to replicate other projects.
This is a one-time initiative, and the deadline for receipt of Letters of Intent is January 6, 1998.
For more information on this initiative, contact:
Munhall's Net Helps Nab a Murder Suspect
Information infrastructure is changing the way police departments in seven communities near Pittsburgh do business. Working together electronically, the City of Clairton, the Townships of Elizabeth and South Park, and the Boroughs of Munhall, West Mifflin, Pleasant Hills, and Whitehall are making Western Pennsylvania a safer place to live.
With the Borough of Munhall taking the lead, seven agencies are using information technology to share mug shots, check aliases, note identifying characteristics, and communicate other crucial information that might not otherwise finds its way across jurisdictional boundaries.
In a recent incident, Munhall police chief Darryl Parker credits the TIIAP-supported system with helping to quickly identify a suspect in an apparent gang warfare-related murder of a two-year-old child. In January of this year, a family had stopped for gas when a group of individuals began shooting at one another. The child, strapped in a car seat, was fatally wounded in the crossfire.
Police were able to identify the shooter from eyewitnesses. Using the TIIAP-supported information system, they learned his aliases, and retrieved a mug shot, which they circulated to hundreds of police. Within a week, the shooter was behind bars.
Oral History on the Web
In the summer of 1997, James Turning Bear traveled from his home in the Fort Peck Reservation to Montana State University (MSU) and offered his 75 years of tribal history to the world. Mr. Turning Bear, accompanied by a teacher and student from the local tribal college, came to MSU as part of a fellowship program supported by a 1996 TIIAP award.
While at MSU, Mr. Turning Bear, a tribal elder, worked with university staff to develop a home page and CD-ROM presenting information on the tribes at Fort Peck Reservation. The effort began with the creation of a home page on the history of the tribes which incorporated not only the timeline of events in the region, but also images, sounds, and stories of the Assiniboine and Sioux.
The home page, still under construction, can be found on the World Wide Web at:
As the "Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux History" home page develops, video clips of tribal life and audio tracks of Sioux language will be available. Until this project, Mr. Turning Bear's notes on the Sioux language were located in 19 binders of handwritten pages. But now, through his web site, Mr. Turning Bear's knowledge and experience can be integrated into local curricula and become a legacy to future generations.
Austin FreeNet: Bringing the Net to Poor Communities
Can free access to the Internet enhance the lives of people in poor communities? For an answer, check out a recent article on TIIAP grantee the Austin FreeNet in the October, 1997, issue of MIT’s ("http://web.mit.edu/techreview/www/articles/oct97/chapman.html") Technology Review.
Nurturing Neighborhood Nets, by Gary Chapman and Lodis Rhodes explores how providing free access to computer networking can extend the pleasures and benefits of the Net to people like Timika Mitchell, who created her own Web page while homeless and, using the Web, found the Victory Grill, where she performs her poetry. Timika is a resident of the 11th/12th Street Corridor, an area of East Austin suffering from high unemployment, poor schools, drugs, gangs, and violence.
The Austin FreeNet received funding from TIIAP in 1996 to provide Internet access in East Austin and work with residents to train and develop Internet content of their own at nine locations, including a training lab at the Austin’s DeWitty Center. The Austin FreeNet is a cooperative effort involving Austin educational, civic, and corporate entities. Participating organizations include the University of Texas, the Austin Public Library, Literacy Austin, the Austin Learning Academy, the City of Austin Police Department, the Austin Independent School District, and other community organizations, private companies, and communications providers.
Nurturing Neighborhood Nets also discusses some of the other outstanding networks across the country.
Gary Chapman is director of the 21st Century Project at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. The 21st Century Project focuses on increasing public participation in science and technology policymaking.
Delegates from 8 Countries Visit MaineOnLine
Maine’s success in partnership-building for rural telecommunications projects was showcased early this summer to delegates from Sweden, France, Korea, Portugal, the Netherlands, Hungary, Switzerland, and Japan. The participants were members of a highlevel study tour from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an international group located in Paris that provides an intergovernmental policy forum on all aspects of economic cooperation and development. One of only five sites in the U.S. to be visited, Maine was chosen because of the accomplishments of its TIIAP-supported Maine Telecommunications Partnership, which has secured a total of $1.74 million in funding for 14 different telecommunications projects across the nation.
The power of partnership and collaboration to facilitate rural development using telecommunications was the theme of the study tour in Maine. Two key questions helped to frame discussion: How are partnerships used to advance telecommunications in rural areas? And how are advanced services deployed to rural areas? The delegates visited three types of partnerships, which are part of the Maine Telecommunications Partnership:
Local private and public partnerships: The Bethel Datafication TownLink Project initiated by the Gould Academy, a private institution, and Bethel School Administrative District, a public institution, to collaborate on a common vision for communitywide networking.
All of these projects are rural, grassroots efforts, which involve active partnerships.
For more information on telecommunications in Maine, see the State Planning Office at
Also, the Public Utilities Commission web site contains commission press releases, recent orders, current issues, and how to get help with your utility bill, at
A Little (Neighborhood) Knowledge
Neighborhood Knowledge Los Angeles (NKLA) is a TIIAP-funded public information project aimed at expanding access to new technologies by low and moderate income Los Angeles residents and their representative organizations in ways that help them improve neighborhood conditions.
Recently, Gary Squier, general manager of the Los Angeles Housing Department, singled out NKLA as one of the "key components" for stabilizing distressed neighborhoods, "lost neighborhoods [that] have become wounds that bleed scarce resources and sap the vitality" of cities like L.A.
First, Squier writes, you have to "break the fever," reduce crime and violence to allow other "seeds of stability" to be planted. Then, you have to "identify, classify, and assess the condition of potentially distressed neighborhoods." And this means "linking data from public and private entities, including the police, assessor, census, health agencies, water departments, and others." The NKLA's online database provides this capacity, Squier writes.
Armed with a tool like the NKLA's database, communities can push for stricter code enforcement, more neighborhood infrastructure investment, and professional property management. The key, Squier concludes, is to organize, to build "social networks that strengthen community."
Neighborhood Knowledge Los Angeles is a project of the California Mutual Housing Association (CMHA), a 1996 TIIAP grantee.
A "Win-Win" Situation for MAAC!
Interns and volunteers can make an immeasurable contribution to a "tight budgeted" community network. Here's some good news from one of the 1995 TIIAP grantees, working in the inner city in San Diego, California. The Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on Poverty (MAAC), a 1995 TIIAP grantee, has created the Inner City Net, bringing the Internet and access to local information to the inner-city community of San Diego.
MAAC's interns have donated 4-6+ hours per week to provide bilingual assistance to new users, create web pages, install and troubleshoot cross-platform software and much, much more. What may not be immediately apparent, though, is that Catalina, Juan, Lupe, Sandra, Azucena, and Kimmo are DOING what a lot of people are TALKING ABOUT that is, learning the skills needed to advance in today's workplace.
MAAC is very proud of its interns. And if you want to contact
them, here's how:
The Human Dimension of Networks
I would like to take this opportunity to tell you how grateful I am for the opportunities MAIN has given us. My husband has multiple sclerosis. Before MAIN gave us free Internet access, Kenneth had never actually conversed with another person with this disease. He was reluctant to do so. Through the Internet, we located a chat and support group for people with multiple sclerosis. Because of that contact and the things we learned, we have formed a multiple sclerosis support group in Cherokee County which meets monthly at Murphy Medical Center. It has been a resounding success and is reaching out to many people.
We have also been able to secure a MAIN account for one of our support group members. It was also her first access to the Internet. Kenneth and I are now volunteer moderators for the chat room that first opened up for us the vast world of information and support.
We hope that, in some measure, we are giving back to others in repayment for what has been so generously given to us.
Note: Mr. Lanier lives and works in Yancey County, one of the Western North Carolina counties that could only access the Internet with a long-distance call until the Mountain Area Information Network was created with TIIAP assistance.
Community Voice Mail
Community Technology Institute (Seattle, Washington), a 1995 TIIAP grantee, is the founder of Community Voice Mail, a personalized 24-hour service to homeless, and phoneless, people trying to access social services, gather information on jobs and housing, and maintain contact with family and friends. Individuals can use any touch-tone phone, their own 7-digit number, and a private pass code to record a personal greeting and retrieve messages.
Under its TIIAP grant, CTI initiated Community Voice Mail programs in Boston, Houston, Spokane, and Los Angeles, creating telecommunications access for nearly 20,000 more people annually. The four TIIAP-funded sites join sixteen members of the CVM Federation (Seattle, Aberdeen, and Vancouver, WA; Salem and Portland, OR; San Jose, San Francisco, and San Diego, CA; Phoenix; Memphis; Minneapolis- St. Paul; Madison, WI; Raleigh, NC; Atlanta; Albany, NY; and New York City.
This is the only organized voice and operating model for universal access to telecommunications for poor people in the United States.
CTI has also created a web site (http://www.cvm.org), and has brought available technology to the social service delivery system by facilitating Internet and email access for nearly all CVM sites in the federation. In 1996, Community Voice Mail was named as one of the top ten innovations in the history of the Harvard-Ford Foundation Innovations Program.
Fighting Fire with a Web Site
A recent article in Fire Management Notes, from the United States Department of Agriculture, credits La Plaza Telecommunity, a TIIAP grantee, with demonstrating that community networks can play a crucial role in helping key agencies respond to a natural disaster.
On May 5, 1996, a major fire started near San Cristobal and Taos, NM; the neighboring town of Lama was almost totally destroyed. Families in nearby Red River and portions of the town of Questa were evacuated. Before this incident was over, about 2,000 individuals were displaced or evacuated from their homes, and portions of some highways were closed to all but local residents and fire traffic.
The national, interagency incident command (IC) team, located near the fire, held daily briefings for the community and escorted media representatives to the fireline. In addition, the IC team organized tours for and provided information to a variety of people including Jim Lyons, the Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment, and New Mexico's Governor Gary Johnson, Congressman Bill Richardson, Senator Jeff Bingaman, and Senator Pete Domenici's staff.
Less than 24 hours after the fire began, the La Plaza de Taos Telecommunity established the "Hondo Fire Emergency Information Web Site," with separate pages for breaking news, Forest Service updates, road information, and support and assistance information.
Various community people used the Web site's message page to post informative notices as well as requests for information-sometimes these users were searching for specific individuals who couldn't be located.
The full text of the article is available on La Plaza's web site: www.laplaza.org
$5 Million for School-Internet Links
Starting March 1, 1998, two New Hampshire companies, Bell-Atlantic of New Hampshire and Cabletron Systems, will spend $5 million to bring Internet access to every public school and library in the state.
Bell Atlantic, which is providing $3 million for the project, will offer each school and library a new business telephone line or a high-capacity 56K frame relay circuit. The company will also help with training for teachers and librarians. Cabletron has pledged $2 million in networking equipment and will also help schools develop individual technology plans.
The announcement came largely as a result of the TIIAP-supported Wide area Integrated Network for the Granite State, or WINGS, developed by Frank Windsor, director of educational telecommunications at New Hampshire Public Television, and Dr. Anthony Paradis, of the Southeastern Regional Education Service Center in Derry, New Hampshire.
For a full report on this grant, check out the Concord Online Monitor website. The author of the article, Dana Wormald, can be reached at (603) 224-5301, ext. 306, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TIIAP and Workforce Preparation
On January 12-13, 1998, Secretary of Commerce William Daley spoke at the National Information Technology Workforce Convocation held in Berkeley, California. At the Convocation, Secretary Daley discussed the various programs within the Department of Commerce that address the current workforce shortage in the information technology sector.
The Secretary's remarks touched on a recent report released by the Department of Commerce Technology Administration entitled America's New Deficit: The Shortage of Information Technology Workers.
To learn more about what the Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (TIIAP) is doing to address the shortage, please read TIIAP's article TIIAP Projects: Enabling the Information Society by Preparing the Workforce.
City FreeNet Expands to Regional Access
The (www.gnofn.org) Great New Orleans FreeNet (GNOFN), a 1995 TIIAP grantee, continues to be an example of a vibrant, growing freenet.
Recently, the Louisiana Data Base Commission released $1.1 million in state funds to fund a regional expansion of Internet access, training, and resources (to be called the Louisiana FreeNet). GNOFN is the model on which the Louisiana FreeNet will be based.
The Louisiana FreeNet will cover about 60 per cent of the state’s population, impacting 697 schools. Other recent activities at GNOFN include "A Chat with the Chief," featuring Police Chief Pennington online for an hour responding to questions from local citizens about crime in the New Orleans area.
Check the website for special events via CHAT.... And, if you’re going to New Orleans for MardiGras, be sure to check out GNOFN.
Laissez les bons temps roulé!!
Combating Urban Decline in L.A.
In Fiscal Year 1996, TIIAP funded the California Resident Controlled Housing Association to develop a plan to provide greater access to information that can help to combat urban decline. The process allowed a wide variety of interested organizations -- including non-profit community-based groups, government agencies, foundations, financial institutions, and community colleges and universities -- to participate in identifying the types of information services that would need to be network-accessible in order to help neighborhoods directly address their problems.
Neighborhood Knowledge Los Angeles (NKLA), the project's website, documents the process.
Based on NKLA's planning grant experience, the City of Los Angeles has hired the NKLA team, which is based at the University of California at Los Angeles, to build a new management information system for its major initiative, a comprehensive residential code enforcement program. In other words, not only was it NKLA that pointed out the problem of housing deterioration in Los Angeles, it is NKLA which is being brought in to set up an effective, efficient, and transparent new system to address the problem!
TIIAP is pleased that the City of Los Angeles has chosen NKLA to develop the City's new internal information system. This new system will enable NKLA to build a seamless web between the administration of the new code inspection program and NKLA's ongoing public information work.
NKLA would like to build a system tracking code complaints which is as user-friendly as the FedEx or UPS online package tracking systems.
Economic Development for 5 States
The (www.nwedn.org) Northwest Economic Development Network (NWEDN), managed by the Palouse Economic Development Council in Pullman, Washington, is developing a TIIAP-funded project for a five-state area (Washington, Oregon, Montana, Alaska, and Idaho) to bring telecommunications resources and training, primarily in rural areas, to small businesses to facilitate their entry into the electronic world community.
The project will connect one economic development organization, with statewide influence, in each of the five states to each other and to the Internet. NWEDN will give each of the partner organizations the capacity to become leaders in Internet connectivity. And, local communities and small businesses will gain the ability to enter into the new world of electronic commerce.
Connecting rural areas to the Internet helps to overcome any "rural penalty" due to geographic isolation -- by diversifying economies and expanding markets in the five states. In addition, training economic development personnel to use information technology creates a local knowledge base. The project will also pay long-term dividends to small business profitability by giving the local economic development organizations the ability to help the small businesses in their region as they look for increased access to information.
Finally, this five-state network will coordinate technical support for end-users, and hopes to foster a new level of cooperation across state lines.
For more information on NWEDN, contact Jennifer Cochran of the Palouse Economic Development Council
Using Your Website for Fundraising
We found the following article posted on the Benton Foundation's Open Studio/Open Forum website by Hope O'Keefe, Deputy General Counsel of the National Endowment for the Arts. While it is directed to non-profit arts organizations, the advice is relevant and should prove highly useful to all non-profits:
Online fundraising likely won't replace the old-fashioned kind anytime soon: few donors are comfortable yet with online contributions; high dollar fundraising will always require the same personal approach; foundations probably won't start handing out grants in response to anyone's online solicitations anytime soon. But every organization with a website should think about the ways in which it can tie in to development efforts, however subtly. At a minimum, the core function of most websites - providing information about the organization - is itself perhaps the most important way in which websites increase donations. And websites with an interactive component can be a marvelous source of information for arts organizations' development efforts - even without online gift acceptance, the names and addresses of those requesting information are a great place to start.
[To read the entire article, which contains some interesting links, click here]
The Law and Your Web Site
As we obsessively surf the web, we occasionally find some advice that's actually quite useful. And when we do, we like to pass it along to our grantees and applicants. Recently, for example, we came across an article entitled (www.callaw.com/orrick.html) Legal Issues Associated with the Creation and Operation of Web Sites by Richard D. Harroch, a San Francisco attorney. Mr. Harroch is a partner of the firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP and Chairman of its Emerging Companies and Venture Capital Group. He is also the co-author of Start-Up Companies and Partnership and Joint Venture Agreements, both published by Law Journal Seminars-Press in 1997.
The article covers topics like Contracts with Web Site Developers; Domain Names and Trademark Protection; Copyright Protection for the Site; Online Contracts; Security and Confidentiality; Liability Issues; and Disclaimers and Disclosures. It makes for interesting reading.
Online Strategies for Nonprofits
Making the Net Work: Online Strategies for Community-Based Organizations is a new how-to manual written by Terry Grunwald, a long-time advocate for online networking and director of NCeXchange in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Written completely for the nonprofit audience, the book includes practical information about how to incorporate electronic networking into your organization, and a thorough assessment process that your organization can do without paying a high-priced firm or consultant.
The cost is $20 for nonprofit organizations and can be ordered online at http://www.ncexchange.org.
TIIAP Grantee Featured on Nightline
Under the title "Haves vs Have-Nots in the Digital Age," ABC's Nightline used the experiences of a TIIAP grantee to examine one of today's hottest issues: the economic fallout of the digital age.
In 1995, TIIAP funded a project to provide low-income adults with free access to the information infrastructure, and provide free job training in basic computer literacy and Internet skills at the (www.c-4.org)Community Computer and Communications Center (C4), located in the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA).
The story looked at whether the onset of the digital age would lead to a new age of economic expansion, as well as how the new prosperity would be distributed among various socioeconomic populations? In the course of the analysis, Nightline focused on one primary variable: access to new information assets, both physical and intellectual.
According to the Nightline story, a key to making information resources an engine for widespread growth is to retool the labor force for new technologies. Nightline highlighted C4 to illustrate the kinds of places where digital "have nots" can become "haves" at a surprisingly rapid pace.
Central to MASS MoCAs program was the collaboration between fine arts and commercial enterprise. To that end, MASS MoCA has built a state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure for tenants, as well as a digital training center: C4. By January, 1998, more than 500 registered members had received both formal training and handson experience with the core technologies driving the digital age. That means more than one out of every 30 adults in the region is using C4!
Nightline also featured MASS MoCA's first commercial tenant, located upstairs from C4: KleiserWalczak Construction Company (KWCC), a digital special effects company catering to the motion picture and theme park industries. KWCC created the special effects for Stargate, Judge Dredd, and Mortal Combat II, among other feature films, and moved its headquarters from Hollywood to MASS MoCA. After opening with footage of KWCC, the Nightline story shifted to C4, where a workshop was in progress teaching people about World Wide Web publishing.
"Downstairs, a training program is federally funded to prepare industrial 'have nots' for the digital future they can already see upstairs," says the narrator. The reporter continues her discussion of the digital future as the camera falls on the engaged faces of former mill workers. "It’s a future that these people want to be part of, but can they?"
The camera moves to Brett McDowell, MASS MoCAs Director of Information and Media Technology, who answers: "We are marketing ourselves to adults who might not otherwise have access to these resources, and they are here learning how basic computer and internet literacy can prepare them for new jobs and new industries that everyone knows are coming to this area."
A Fast, Reliable Database for Police
Since 1996, the Police Department in the Borough of Munhall, Pennsylvania, has been using Micronetics high-performance MSM database engine. MSM (Micronetics Standard MUMPS) is based on MUMPS, a computer programming language will allows for quick sorting and searching through large databases, something which is critical to police work.
Munhall Police needed a very reliable and very fast database, and one which runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The system, reportedly the first of its kind in the nation, allows law enforcement in the townships and boroughs outside of Pittsburgh to exchange information via e-mail on criminal activities and persons in the separate communities.
Regional Development in Maine
The (www.eddmaine.org) Eastern Maine Development Corporation (EMDC), based in Bangor, in partnership with the Northern Maine Development Commission (and with funding from TIIAP), has implemented a joint video conferencing and high speed data transfer network. The network not only provides a vehicle for creating community development, but also helps deliver industrial marketing and rural transportation planning activities in six rural, isolated towns and cities in northern, upper central, and eastern Maine.
The project’s goal is to create market and technical information access points for manufacturing firms. This will lead to enhanced economic development opportunities to communities in a region where small towns can be hours apart by road.
The EMDC project is part of the Maine Economic Development Network (EDDNet), which is one of 14 separate projects that made up the TIIAP-funded Maine Telecommunications Partnership. The wide area economic development network covers five Maine Economic Development Districts, the Center for Economic and Business Research, and the Small Business Development Center. EDDNet provides a foundation for Internet access and communitywide sharing of information for economic growth programs in the state.
EDDNet affords an opportunity to review four different options for linking a LAN to a backbone network: a dedicated circuit, leased from the local telephone service provider; a wireless link, with no ongoing lease line charges; a fiber optic cable transmission link; and using a local cable television provider and connecting the LAN to the cablebased network and then to the backbone network.
New Community Networking Association
The Association For Community Networking is a national non-profit membership organization dedicated to improving the visibility, viability, and vitality of Community Networking. AFCN links and serves the more than one hundred and fifty community networks around the country. AFCN also builds public awareness, identifies best practices, encourages research, and develops products and services.
Community networks are locally-based, locally-driven information and communication systems which are owned and operated by local citizens, government officials, social services, schools, libraries, community-based organizations, and others; enable community members to use the Internet to solve problems and create opportunities; usually include a World Wide Web page or other online presence where community members can publish community information, share interests and communicate with one another; and often provide public access, training, and support for users.
"There is tremendous power in this country at the community level -- to create, to support, to build a healthier nation," said Amy Borgstrom, President of AFCN and Executive Director of the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks in Athens, Ohio. "AFCN's role will be to help communities make use of the great technical advances available to them, in both rural and urban settings. Community networks help people become better informed, better educated, more prosperous, and more connected to others here and around the world."
AFCN builds upon the 25-year history of communiy networks that began with the Community Memory Project in Berkeley in the 1970s, and became popularized with the Freenets like the Cleveland Freenet in the 1980s. Community networks have quickly become a key means of civil interaction in many places around the world in the 1990s. Existing community networks, if taken as a whole, have one of the largest electronic user bases in the nation.
Take a snapshot of community networking today and you might see: homeless people checking out job listings at a public access site from a shelter in North Carolina; high school students being trained to be computer consultants in rural Ohio; senior citizens using e-mail in Boulder; or citizens "meeting the candidates" in an electronic conference in inner-city St. Paul.
AFCN provides members with:
An electronic mailing list for members to share experiences and learn from one another;
"Community networks can have significant impact on peoples' lives," according to Madeline Gonzalez, Executive Director of AFCN. "AFCN is helping communities create their own networks, as well as working with businesses and existing networks to develop new products and services in the public interest. As we move toward the 21st century, this is a movement whose time has come."
People interested in joining this exciting effort are invited to become members. This will make it possible for AFCN to continue developing quality products and services for community networkers everywhere. For more information and a membership form, check out the AFCN website, or call Amy Borgstrom at (740) 592-3854.
The Association for Community Networking is incorporated in the state of Colorado, and is administered by a virtual Board of community networking professionals: Amy Borgstrom of the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks in Athens, Ohio; Steve Cisler formerly of Apple Computer; Richard Civille of the Center for Civic Networking in Washington, DC; Joan Durrance of the University of Michigan School of Information; Madeline Gonzalez, a founder of the Boulder Community Network; and Steve Snow of Charlotte's Web in Charlotte, North Carolina.
More than a third of the existing community networks have had a hand in creating AFCN, which has been under development for the last two years. Start-up activities were supported by Apple Computer, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the University of Michigan, the Morino Institute, and a group of 50 founding contributors.
The 1998 GII Awards
The (www.gii.com/97finalists.html) Global Information Infrastructure (GII) Awards announced its 1998 finalists from a pool of more than 800 entries. Three TIIAP-sponsored projects are included on the list. The GII Awards exemplify the best practices and new models in the use of Internet and network technologies across the country. The eleven GII Award Categories are: Arts & Entertainment; Children; Community; Commerce; Education; Health; Government; Netpreneur; Next Generation; Promise Award; and Public Access.
TIIAP is represented this year by NetWellness (Health) and Kalamazoo TeleCity and LibertyNet (Public Access).
NetWellness is one of six finalists in the Health Award Category. "We are honored that NetWellness has reached the GII finals," says Roger Guard, University of Cincinnati Medical Center's director of Academic Information Technology and Libraries. "It is our goal that Ohio becomes the consumer health knowledge capital of the world. Recognition as a finalist affirms this goal."
NetWellnesss, developed by the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and delivered via the World Wide Web, offers a large base of medical experts who provide online consumer health information. Health professionals faculty from the University of Cincinnati, the Ohio State University Health Sciences Center, and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine develop the original content and provide the expertise for such popular features as "Ask An Expert" and "What's Hot?" What's Hot provides updates on leading-edge medical research; Ask An Expert features pharmacists, nurses, physicians, and other health professionals who provide answers to consumers' health questions.
Kalamazoo TeleCITY is one of two TIIAP projects and six finalists in the Public Access Award Category. Greater Kalamazoo TeleCITY USA, Inc., provides public access to community information and promotes communication through electronic means. Information is being added continuously to strengthen the web site as a whole and to reflect the current happenings in the Greater Kalamazoo (Michigan) area.
Some of the topics available on the TeleCITY web site include: a Community Calendar providing up-to-date information on what's happening around town from arts and entertainment to special events; Community Discussions among community residents on a variety of subjects, local as well as global; Jobs, with access to online resources for career and training opportunities; Police and Fire Departments (where residents can view the area's Most Wanted and learn public safety tips from the experts); Live Chat, where citizens can ask questions and participate in live discussions with special guests on a variety of topics, including personal finance, computer repair and home improvement; and learnNET, where students, teachers and parents from all around the Kalamazoo County area can interact.
As part of its long-range expansion plan, TeleCITY recently installed an information kiosk at the Michigan Employment Security Agency to demonstrate the job-seeking services developed by the Upjohn Institute's Michigan Works! Project. Plans are also underway for the creation of a Metropolitan Area Network. TeleCITY has an extensive Community Outreach Program. TeleCITY staff is training area residents in basic computer skills and Internet usage. Local agencies have developed their own web pages through TeleCITY's training and computer lab, and TeleCITY is installing a number of kiosks throughout the community to enable all area residents as well as visitors to access the information stored at TeleCITY. In addition, TeleCITY has partnered with a Galesburg-Augusta computer technology class, in a project of re-conditioning used computers. These computers are then sold to area nonprofit organizations at a very low cost.
LibertyNet: A Community-Based Electronic Information Network for Philadelphia, is the other Public Access Award nominee. LibertyNet's mission is to extend, to every resident of the Philadelphia region, access to the important resources of the Internet. These resources include the extensive local information found on LibertyNet, but also stretch beyond to include the content-rich and educationally-rich cyberworld.
LibertyNet aspires to accomplish this goal of promoting access by supporting neighborhood Internet Access Centers. While the technology is certainly key, the success of each of the Internet Access Centers seems to depend on the person or persons managing the center, according to Laura Weinbaum, Associate Director of LibertyNet. Energetic, connected managers tend to oversee sites which are always busy, with a huge variety of projects. "TIIAP funding allowed us to explore alternative ways of managing the neighborhood projects. What we discovered has made us more successful and allowed us to offer a more comprehensive model to our end users," states Ms. Weinbaum.
Winners of the 1998 GII Awards will be announced at the GII Awards Ceremony, Monday, April 20th, in Chicago.
Methadone Maintenance Treatment Programs
Beth Israel Medical Center (BIMC), the largest provider of drug treatment services in the United States, in conjunction with The Analytic Science Corporation (TASC), an applied information technology firm, is delivering health information services via a telecommunication network to underserved communities in New York City.
To enhance medical services, the BIOMED (Beth Israel Outpatient Medical Education Demonstration project) will utilize state-of-the-art technology to deliver web-based, interactive medical education to care givers and patients in 21 Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program clinics. Additionally, ISDN-enabled video conferencing will be used to link nurses and paraprofessionals with senior physicians to ensure appropriate diagnosis and referral, as well as to promote staff and patient education programs.
The BIOMED project is a 1995 TIIAP grantee. The web site offers information on methadone treatment, health information (important as part of methadone treatment to understand other risks to the patient’s health), other web sites of particular interest, and the location of the 21 clinics in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.
Libraries of the Future
A recent article in Virginia Libraries describes the (www.rang.k12.va.us) Rockbridge Regional Library (RRL) project, a TIIAP recipient in both 1994 and 1995. Located in rural, poor, central Virginia, the Rockbridge Area Networking Project links 22 sites to each other via a frame-relay network, and then to the outside world via the Internet. The 37,700 residents of this rural Virginia region are served by a variety of libraries: the regional headquarters, four branches, a bookmobile, and four school systems -- Rockbridge, Bath, Buena Vista, and Lexington. The area also boasts of Washington & Lee University, Virginia Military Institute (VMI), and the George C. Marshall Research Foundation.
The problem was that only the institutions of higher learning had high-speed Internet access. After a 1994 planing grant from TIIAP, a larger implementation project began in 1995. Sprint provided a frame-relay wide-area network (WAN), connecting the 22 school and public library sites. An existing 56-kbps leased line at VMI was upgraded to a T-1 line to the Internet as well as web, email, and news servers.
Because the area is so rural, as many as four telephone companies own sections of the leased lines. However, using the frame-relay network, all 22 sites are connected to each other without going through the Internet. In effect, this creates redundancy, and an Internet outage does not affect a library's ability to access the RRL's online catalog or each other. Over 5,600 students have access to the Internet through their schools.
The project also learned that training is an on-going process – i.e., estimate the amount of training required and then multiply by ten! Rockbridge uses the "train the trainer" strategy: one person from each school and library has several sessions of Internet training and then becomes the trainer for his or her site. The Rockbridge library's catalog is on the web and is accessible to all participating libraries and home users. Prior to the project, 64 percent of librarians indicated they frequently got requests for information that could not be met at their locations. This number dropped to 36 percent after the libraries came online. With the advent of Internet access, the public libraries in the region have further defined their role of information providers.
RRL found that by collaborating with a number of like-minded organizations, they were able to create economies of scale to purchase services at a cheaper rate. Increased buying power was a result of this collaboration. RRL also discovered that since all area libraries, school and public, now share the same Internet access, students frequently come to the public library to complete Internet homework assignments made by their teachers. Visit the project's website for more information on how small library systems can take advantage of new information technology.
FYI: 1997 statistics from the American Library Association – for all 8,921 public libraries, 72.3 percent are connected in some way to the Internet, up from 44.4 percent in 1996. And, 60.4 percent offer Internet access to the public, up from 27.8 percent in 1996.
Benton's Online "Best-Practices" Toolkit
This area of Benton’s web site is intended to give
you tips and tools for more effective use of Internet technology
to promote the nonprofit’s goals. The Toolkit is broken
down into the following categories:
You're encouraged to send suggestions for this page to email@example.com and be sure to note that your suggestion is for the Best Practices Toolkit.
A Virtual Library in Denver
While the Western History Collection project of the Denver Public Library is still an "intranet," when it hits the Internet, it will give the public access to thousands of images of negatives and vintage prints dating back to the 19th century. Partially funded by a TIIAP grant in 1996, 18 public libraries statewide are included in the photo digitization project. The DPL photo archives document subjects such as railroads, Native American life, U.S. Calvary activity, mining, the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division, archaeological excavations, early Western towns, and prominent citizens (such as Buffalo Bill) of the American West. Increased handling of these rare images threatens their very preservation. In 1994, the library established an Aimaging laboratory@ to digitize and catalog its photographs.
Although users of the library will be able to view the old photos, the method for obtaining the pictures will be anything but old-fashioned. The photographs are being put into an electronic digital format with the help of the Denver Public Library, the Colorado Historical Society, and the Denver Art Museum. At present, approximately 40,000 images are online and can be accessed through computer terminals at selected public libraries in the state. A laser copy of an image can be had for 10 cents; an eight-by-ten photographic print costs $11.
[Note: In the true spirit of networking, the Denver Public Library suggests you may also enjoy a visit to the Photo Gallery at the (www.lapl.org) Los Angeles Public Library].
Fund for Rural America's Infrastructure Projects
Twelve projects, addressing a variety of issues through information technology, were awarded grants under the Fund for Rural America/ Rural Information Infrastructure Program. Projects range from "Enhancing Rural Development Through Electronic Commerce" to "Rural Schools, Careers, and Community Development" developed by the University of Minnesota and Eastern Washington University, respectively.
To find out more about these and the other funded projects, check out the Agricultural Telecommunications Program.
Seniors and Technology
TIIAP’s 1995 grant to the New York State Office for the Aging (SOFA) was to build an information infrastructure for the frail elderly in New York State. The project has built upon that success to expand improved service delivery and reduced costs not only to the frail elderly but also to others in need of services.
At a recent seminar at Albany Law School, seniors learned how to find information about legal and medical resources on the Internet. "We’re not just trying to make senior citizens the beneficiaries of technology, but the end users of technology as well," said Steve Sconfienza, a program research specialist with SOFA.
SOFA has already put a substantial database of information about health care services throughout the state on the World Wide Web. Previously, most of that information could only be obtained by traveling to a county’s Office for the Aging.
SOFA’s Provider Data System (PDS) software was recently selected by the Governor’s Office for Technology as a best practices model, setting the state’s standard for automated case management and service coordination for human services. Also, the project was cited in a report from the Center for Technology in Government, Tying a Sensible Knot: A Practical Guide to State-Local Information Services, as a successful model for using both state and local partners. Check out the report for more information.
TIIAP in North Dakota
A 1997 TIIAP grantee, the Valley State University, in North Dakota, is giving gifted and talented students at six local middle schools an opportunity to use computers to study water issues affecting the Devils Lake and Red River part of the state.
Using the Internet and multimedia technology, the students are using portable computers to take notes, write presentations, and do mathematical computations related to the project. The students, in effect, are studying original sources, such as water samples and interviews with area leaders about environmental issues, to create reports and make presentations. The material they discover on their field trips is entered into the notebook computers, and they use the Internet for additional research on relevant topics. Each group will also have the opportunity to crosspollinate each other’s findings for a broader research study.
The University’s Center for Innovation in Instruction (CII) assists the middle school teachers in developing the project and provides overall project direction. Dan Pullen, director of the CII said, "These teachers and students will use advanced technology systems to study real social studies by interacting with their environment and with community organizations."
For example, seventh grade students at Valley City Junior High are hard at work collecting water samples from three sites to test for nitrate, phosphate, total hardness, calcium, magnesium, and silica. The samples will be compared to the "norm" and shared with the other participating schools. Their teacher says, "We want to do realworld science."
The TIIAP grant to VCSU was one of three Federal grants to North Dakota for educational purposes. Another TIIAP grant will set up reservationwide telecommunications for the Three Affiliated Tribes (the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nations) at (www.fort-berthold.cc.nd.us) Fort Berthold Community College. This project will include local community organizations, the reservation school, the Job Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In addition, the Department of Education gave a grant to the state’s Department of Public Instruction to help local communities better measure student math achievements.
What Is a "Net on Wheels"?
Very simply, it's a small Local Area Network consisting of Ethernet topology, four workstations, a server, and a Wide Area Network connection. Of course it's all contained on a van that drives around Dallas County in North Texas.
The vans (there are two of them, with more on the way) have served more than 3,000 users since the TIIAP grant was awarded to the Dallas County Community College District in Fiscal Year 1996. One of the project's most successful partners is the Dallas Police Department's Storefront Division. Storefront police departments are located throughout Dallas and provide Net on Wheels with central service locations in low-income neighborhoods. On one visit to a storefront in Little Mexico in East Dallas, a woman living in public housing was able to find a job and move out of the projects.
Net on Wheels has partnered with the Texas Department of Health and Human Services food stamp offices in Dallas County, and the van has visited high schools. During a van visit to Lincoln High School in southern Dallas County, two students tried out the services of Net on Wheels and immediately found jobs.
Mobility and simplicity are the hallmarks of the Net on Wheels project. All of the computers on the vans are Pentium laptops with 24 megabytes of memory, PC Ethernet cards, and CD-Roms. The van uses a portable 5-port 10 Base T hub powered through the keyboard connector of one of the computers. The Wide Area Network hardware consists of a PC card 33.6 cellular-capable modem and a cell phone. Access the Internet is through a local dial-up ISP.
All of this equipment can be up and running within 10 minutes of the van's arrival in any neighborhood. The speediness of this setup is aided by the software used in the project. Net on Wheels runs on three applications: Windows 95, an application called I-Share, and Internet Explorer. I-Share (published by Artisoft) allows up to 30 computers to share one Internet connection. This means that the van can be operational with a single cellular phone call (and a single ISP account). The College has also used this software in its Career Center, providing Internet access to job hunters with one phone line and one ISP account.
From the outset, the College knew that it was essential to find a way to equip the van with computers that did not have the electrical requirements of regular desktop machines. And it was equally important to present potential end users with a system that was neither intimidating nor complicated. The typical customer of Net on Wheels has little or no experience with computers, and may have language problems as well.
By keeping the project mobile and simple, the Dallas County Community College District has provided citizens of the County with a unique and valuable service.
Inner-City Internet Access
According to a recent article in Government Technology (May 1998), inner cities are gaining a technology foothold, thanks in part to people at the grassroots level working in concert with Federal funders and private sector firms willing to show community support.
Recent statistics illustrate the growing disparity between poor, inner-city residents and more affluent urban and suburban dwellers. The number of poor, inner-city residents without computers is high, while resources remain scarce. Barely 12 percent of families with incomes below $20,000 have a computer, much less an Internet connection.
The numbers are just as bleak when viewed along racial lines. The 1993 Census showed 36 percent of white children 17 or younger having computers, compared to 13 percent for African-Americans, and 12 percent for Hispanics.
According to the Government Technology article, residents in the Oakland, California, Acorn Public Housing Project teamed up with IBM, AT&T, and Pacific Bell Integration Services to install network computers into 206 apartments and link them to an onsite, IBM-run computer training center. Residents at Acorn will have access to basic computer training, specific job skills training, and educational programs at the computer center and from their apartments. Internet access is included.
As the Acorn project illustrates, it takes not one but several organizations to put together the necessary resources for an inner-city technology project. The common thread running through the successful projects cited is the organizational and leadership qualities found at the grassroots level. The article cites examples of TIIAP's Plugged In – a store-front project which offers neighborhood residents living in the crime-blighted area of East Palo Alto everything from local telephone service to basic and advanced computer classes.
Another TIIAP project, National Urban Technology Centers, offers a "turn-key" approach to providing computers, software, training labs, and the support to sustain them to residents in inner-city neighborhoods around the country. National Urban Technology partners with local community organizations to provide customized training programs, hardware and even local area networks for software sharing, email and Internet access. Technical and management support is available through toll-free lines to computer specialists and education technologists at National Urban Technology.
Taking technology and computer training into poor, inner-city communities, and sometimes even the residents' homes, is making a difference. Single mothers on welfare, for example, will be able to train for a job without having to worry about transportation and childcare. Their children, too, will be able to use the computers for school work.
Computers for HomeBound Students
The North Central Regional Education Service Agency (RESA VII) is working with twelve West Virginia county Boards of Education to deliver K-12 instruction to home-based students through a Regional Electronic Alternative Learning (REAL) Center. The project has established an interactive video and data network linking a central teaching facility with students in their homes and with schools in the twelve counties.
An increasing number of K-12 students in West Virginia require instruction in alternative learning environments. These students are unable to attend traditional schools for a number of reasons, including health reasons, pregnancy and parenting, psychological or emotional problems, and suspension due to drug or weapons violations. Typically, the state must educate these students at a high cost by sending teachers to their homes. With the videoconferencing network developed by this project, scarce teacher resources are centralized in the REAL Center; students participate in classes with other students, while remaining at home.
Two students, who participated in the homebased instruction program this year, recently graduated from high school. Carol, a 22-year-old mother of two preschool aged children, had asked to be readmitted to the local high school in order to complete her requirements for graduation. The situation was complicated by the fact that Carol lived some 20 miles from the Interstate, down another mile of gravel road and across a stream bed. She did not have a phone and the only electricity was a heavy yellow extension cord to her father’s house next door. Carol, however, had an aunt living one-half mile away, where the ISDN lines for compressed video signals and the Internet connection could be installed. Each day, until graduation, Carol walked the mile to and from her aunt’s home so she could earn the five credits she needed to graduate!
The other graduate, Priscilla, had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease and given a medical release for homebound instruction. While she was undergoing chemotherapy treatments, this was a way to keep up with her classmates and graduate on time. Priscilla took courses in English, U.S. History, Current Events, and Computer Applications. Both students had the added advantage of learning how to use a new tool, the computer. Priscilla now has a part time job, and, since her tumor has shrunk, is thinking of going to vocational school to learn more about computers. Carol is taking care of her children, but expresses the desire eventually to become a teacher’s aide when her children are school age.
Both students, and the others who completed the first year of homebased instruction, are very pleased to be a part of the Administration's program to demonstrate on how computers can be an important tool for connecting students and their teachers and classmates.
Peer Support for Families with Special Needs
The University of Nebraska’s Center on Children, Families and the Law received a TIIAP grant in 1996 to increase access and develop online peer support for families with children who have special health care and education needs. The IDEAS network (Information, Dialogue, Education, Access, and Support) was created by the University, the Nebraska Health and Human Services System, the Nebraska Department of Education, the Nebraska Library Commission, FHC Options, Inc., and Probe Technology.
Nebraska Lt. Gov. Kim Robak visited the latest public access site for IDEAS, the Sump Memorial Library in Papillion, and noted that "[Nebraska] is using new technologies to bring families from across the state with similar needs and concerns together."
The goal is that IDEAS will enhance communication with and between foster families, subsidized adoptive families, families of children with special needs, and social service coordinators and case managers. Families in the target group who do not have computers at home can access the Internet at public facilities such as the library at Papillion.
More than 100 sites in Nebraska are now providing free Internet access to program participants.
Main Street Faces the Year 2000
Four major national associations representing U.S. local governments are launching an aggressive Year 2000 (Y2K) campaign. The campaign will:
Build awareness about the Y2K problem among public elected and appointed officials;
The four organizations, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the International City/County Management Association, and Public Technology, Inc., are combining resources to ensure maximum outreach and effectiveness. Together, the Washington, DC-based associations represent approximately 39,000 counties, cities, and towns across the U.S.
The campaign will educate local officials regarding the public safety and economic development impacts of the Y2K problem. Officials need to be concerned not just for their own computerized systems, but those of businesses and the community where there is an interface with the local government.
The Year 2000 problem, also called the "Millennium bug," stems from the early days of computers, when memory was a precious and expensive commodity. To conserve memory, programmers used only two digits to indicate the year and let the computer assume the first two digits were 19, a feature that will not work for the year 2000 and beyond.
The impact on local governments and their communities is widespread and pervasive. Internal automated office systems, personal computers, and functions such as billing, record-keeping, tax collection, jail records, and facilities management must be minutely examined to correct codes and programs -- a task that for many just beginning the process may not be able to complete in time. The failure of communities to address this problem could incur disastrous results.
Medical Experts Volunteer for Online Duty
The April issue of Health Data Management ("the Magazine of Electronic Health Care Networking") is devoted to "Managed Care: IT Strategies." The issue features an article on one of TIIAP’s grantees NetWellness, an Ohio-based consumer health information service which uses the Internet to provide health education.
The article focuses on Marcia Hern, a registered nurse and a mother, who also volunteers her time as a medical expert to answer questions posed by visitors to the NetWellness web site. Marcia has answered more than 325 questions on child health issues electronically mailed through NetWellness from consumers in Ohio and across the world.
NetWellness offers electronic, searchable access to 320 medical journals, seven textbooks and thousands of pamphlets. You can access personal health assessment surveys and surf through health care news via links to the web sites of CNN Interactive, Fox News, USA Today, and other news organizations. The NetWellness program has expanded statewide and other states are considering setting up models based on the project.
But it is the access to medical professionals, like Marcia, that differentiates NetWellness from other education-focused health care web sites. Experts in nearly 20 other disciplines respond personally to questions submitted through NetWellness. Identifying information is deleted and the questions and answers are posted on the web site for all to see. The project is firm about providing health information, though, and does not offer opinions nor is it a diagnostic service. In addition, the experts review articles, pamphlets and other content before they are placed on the NetWellness site.
Most NetWellness services are accessible from any personal computer linked to the Internet. However, access to two subscription-based electronic journal services is restricted to computers at participating libraries because the library network is paying for the subscriptions. The network has specifically expanded to libraries in order to make it available to minorities and those who do not have home computers. In fact, state lawmakers provided a $1.3 million, two-year grant to make NetWellness available on 6,000 computers in 788 libraries across Ohio.
Following a publicity blitz on the network’s access through libraries, the site has averaged 17,500 hits per day.
What are some features that NetWellness is planning for the future? NetWellness for Kids is one, as well as an expanded area on minority health issues, including sickle cell anemia, hypertension and HIV/AIDS.
According to Brenda Rose, NetWellness program manager at Ohio State University, "The goal is to have a web site that promotes physical, mental and social health."
HUD's Neighborhood Networks
Neighborhood Networks is a community-based initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that encourages development of resource and computer learning centers in privately-owned HUD-insured and -assisted housing. These centers work to build self-reliant neighborhoods that meet the needs of low-income families and seniors where they live. The idea behind Neighborhood Networks is to make technology accessible to residents and to help residents and communities thrive.
While not a grant program, Neighborhood Networks encourages centers to be self-sustaining through partnerships, business opportunities, and other income-generating options. HUD works behind the scenes to encourage creation and expansion of Neighborhood Networks centers across the country. HUD staff help guide communities through the Neighborhood Networks center development process, from business plan to grand opening to program expansion. Through technical assistance and limited financial support, HUD also provides information and networking opportunities for participants to learn how to develop a center, contact potential partners and draw upon the experiences of existing centers.
There are now more than 390 centers open, with 800 local, regional, and national partners. More than 760 additional centers are in the planning stage.
You can contact the Neighborhood Networks program at:
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
or you can visit their website at
HUBS Receives $5 Million DoE Grant The HUBS (Hospitals, Universities, Businesses, and Schools) initiative has received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to implement pilot distance learning programs in the region. The grant will facilitate establishment of a "smart region" in the four-state area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. The initiative will enhance the ability of local K-12 schools to work together and enter into collaborative education projects through innovative educational programs, virtual reality technology, and training.
Over the next few months, participating school districts will be identified to take part in the two-year pilot program. The demonstration will showcase exciting technologies and education opportunities in the region's classrooms that include virtual science labs; virtual field trips; and virtual stock markets to allow economic classes to experience a simulated Wall Street environment.
A learning application called Navigator would pit teams of students against one another in a race to navigate around a virtual globe. High school level students would be forced to utilize their full knowledge and skills of mathematics (trigonometry, calculus, etc.) while visiting every major point along the way. Another program called Archeologist will allow students to take part in simulated archeological digs and analyze ancient civilizations.
Students will be able to create their own web pages and send and receive e-mail; parents and students will be able to access homework assignments, curriculum, lunch menus, and student calendars from home; and teachers will be able to host expert guest educators in the classroom via teleconferencing.
Representatives from HUBS have been in contact with the Secretaries of Education from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland in an effort to identify both diverse and needy schools in the region to serve as test-beds for the project.
The grant will be used to develop new technologies to enhance inter-state and inter-school communications that will allow schools to engage in cooperative distance learning programs and with one another. Once the technology is successfully implemented, HUBS would expand the capabilities to school districts throughout the four state region.
The HUBS initiative grew out of a working group established by Congressman Curt Weldon (R-PA), Dr. Da Hsuan Feng of Drexel University, and Dr. Bob Hollebeek of the University of Pennsylvania in February, 1996, with the goal of revamping, upgrading, and installing a regional network and computing hub. Since that time, HUBS has gained support from a variety of segments of the community, including organizations such as Greater Philadelphia First, the Delaware County Intermediate Unit, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and a number of school districts in the four state region.
HUBS has worked with IBM and SAP, while Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) has taken on the role of lead systems integrator for HUBS from its office in Wayne, PA.
Connecting ASL Users with Interpreters In 1996, TIIAP awarded $37,505, to Society’s Assets in Madison, Wisconsin, to develop a plan for the most cost-effective technical approach to connect American Sign Language (ASL) users with interpreters by using video teleconferencing. The project -- VITAL (Video Interpreting Transmission Access Link) -- investigated innovative ways to apply information technology to the needs of ASL users, and hoped to provide significant potential for replication in other communities across the country.
Many of the more than 20 million hearing-impaired Americans use sign language to communicate. Since passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1992 and the corresponding increased use of interpreting services, the shortage of qualified ASL interpreters has become a national issue. Recent advances in video technology, which permit transmission of smooth fluid motions at a reasonable cost, provide a possible solution to the shortage of interpreters.
Project VITAL’s goal was to assist the hearing impaired by determining which technical options can most effectively link qualified sign language interpreters with ASL users using video technology. Partners included the Gallaudet Technology Assessment Program, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, and Dane County, Wisconsin, Government.
The end result is the VITAL Blueprint, a technical and operational plan that describes the steps involved in planning for the implementation of a video interpreting access link for assisting the hearing impaired. The Blueprint goes into such detail as the transmission facilities, the customer premise network equipment, and internal wiring necessary for implementation. Vendor selection is discussed, along with how to design an RFP based on portability, affordability, flexibility, upgradability, and transmission rates necessary to meet the requirements for the deaf and hard of hearing community. The Blueprint also details how individuals from the hearing, deaf, and interpreter communities were selected to participate in the evaluation trials of the technology. The business plan part of the Blueprint outlines the legal, operational, technical, and fiscal issues that had to be addressed.
Society’s Assets plans to partner with other organizations to implement the VITAL network as designed in the planning phase. For a copy of the Blueprint for VITAL or for more information on the project, please contact Shari Wyatt, TIIAP Program Officer, (202) 482-2048.
Fighting Wildfires in Florida Development of a computer-aided dispatching and fire management system for Florida fire officials could not have been more timely. Without this system -- funded under a 1997 TIIAP grant to Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DOACS) -- fighting the fires that recently ravaged so much of the state might have been even more frustrating and costly.
The system uses databases compiled from sources such as the Census Bureau and the U.S. Geological Survey satellite photos, as well as sophisticated fire, smoke-dispersion and weather forecasting models, to present detailed computerized maps that plot authorized fire and wildfires in the state.
The website for the Florida Division of Forestry, a division of DOACS, gives daily updates on the wildfires raging through the state. While the mapping system is just one part of a larger fire-fighting strategy, it is critical. Fire fighters, area commanders, and the media are all using the website’s fire danger maps and drought index maps. The website also provides information on road closing and shelter updates.
Search the TIIAP Database The database of TIIAP grant awards from 1994 through 1997 is now fully searchable. When you log onto the NTIA website, click on the image near the center of the screen labeled "TIIAP 1998" and then click on the icon along the left-hand side of the screen labeled "Search Funded Projects."
Be careful not to confuse the TIIAP search button with the search button for the entire website. This other search button appears on the main NTIA webpage near the bottom of the screen. It's labeled "Search" but it's NOT what you want. Instead, you want the button that lets you search just the TIIAP section of the website.
We know it's confusing and we apologize. You may want to simplify things by accessing the TIIAP search engine directly. Just point your browser at:
and you'll get there without having to navigate the site. You might even want to bookmark this URL to save yourself some steps if you're planning on searching the database more than a few times later on.
E-rate Teleconference in September
We received this news item from the September 2, 1998, issue of the American Library Association Washington Office Newsline:
The Schools and Libraries Corporation (SLC) invites E-rate applicants and service providers to tune in to a live satellite teleconference on September 28, 1998, from 1:30 - 3:30 Eastern time, hosted by the Virginia Department of Education.
SLC staff experts will walk through the remaining steps of the 1998 E-rate program year, from the issuance of funding commitments this fall to the implementation of discounts by service providers through June 1999. SLC will begin with a preview of the Funding Commitment Decisions Letter that approved applicants will receive, followed by step-by-step instructions on filling out FCC Form 486 (Receipt of Service Confirmation Form), which triggers payment of discounts.
We'll also provide detailed instructions for applicants who will seek reimbursement for funds they've already spent on services for which they are approved for discounts. The teleconference will pinpoint who is required to submit which forms, when, and under what circumstances. A brief overview of the application schedule for the next program year will also be covered.
The teleconference will air in analog format on C-Band satellite Galaxy 7, channel 8 (3860 MHZ). Galaxy 7 is located at 91 degrees west. A test signal will air at 1:15 p.m. eastern time.
Here's how to get in touch with the ALA Washington Office:
ALA Washington Office
RuralTeleCon '98, the 2nd annual National Rural Telecommunications Conference, will be held in Aspen, Colorado, October 4-6. It's the place to come and learn, network, collaborate, and begin to actualize ideas that make telecommunications and information technology work for communities -- ideas dealing with technology, applications, community, and policy. The conference is expected to draw participants from throughout the nation and the world.
Sponsors and funders include TIIAP and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) from the Commerce Department; the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) and Rural Utilities Service (RUS); the Association for Community Networking (AFCN); the National Rural Development Partnership (NRDP); the Aspen Institute's Rural Economic Policy Program (REPP); the State of Colorado; the Rural Local Initiative Support Corporation (RLISC); the Colorado Advanced Technology Institute (CATI); the Colorado Rural Technology Program; the Colorado Community College and Occupational Education System; the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; and MCI.
Program highlights include:
Keynote Address by Professor Everett Rogers (father of the theory of innovation diffusion);In addition, the program will include 10 concurrent panels covering topics from wireless, to universal service, to distance learning and telemedicine; 25 project exhibits; and 15 roundtables on topics suggested by participants.
A unique peer-to-peer consultation session also will be held where participants share their expertise with one another on 50 topics ranging from community-owned utilities to using the web to market local goods and services globally.
After-conference events include a special workshop led by the NTIA, covering the TIIAP application process, an outline of some common strategies for writing a successful TIIAP proposal, and a discussion of the TIIAP review process.
The registration fee is $175 per person. For registration information and up-to-the-minute details, visit the conference website at http://ruraltelecon.org/, or contact Toni Black, Colorado Mountain College, at 970/947-8365 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Trends in Educational Telecom
Investments in telecommunications infrastructure and in training and development are the key areas of emphasis for planners and educators according to an October report published by Hezel Associates, a national authority in communication research.
The report, Educational Telecommunications and Distance Learning: The State-by-State Analysis, 1998-99, provides the latest information about key educational planning groups, forces driving educational technology development, emerging technology policies, and funding issues for each of the fifty states.
Visit the Hezel website for information on the new directions
and common concerns that have emerged with the growth in educational
telecommunications and technology at the K-12 and post-secondary
levels. For example, technology is increasingly being characterized
as a tool that assists educators in three important ways: as
a means to redress inequities, as a tool to support statewide
subject area standards, and as a way to facilitate administration
and disseminate public information.
Funds for Voice-Based Nets
Since 1997, when TIIAP added a separate application area for Public Safety, the program has received numerous proposals seeking support for some variation of a voice-based network (e.g., a telephone call center, a 911 referral system, or a two-way radio system). Because of limited funds, TIIAP has not been able to accommodate all these requests. But there are several grant programs that may provide needed assistance.
The (www.ojp.usdoj.gov) Office of Justice Programs (OJP)was created in 1984 by the Justice Assistance Act. OJP works within its established partnership arrangements with federal, state and local agencies, and national and community-based organizations to develop, fund, and evaluate a wide range of criminal and juvenile justice programs. Dedicated to comprehensive approaches, OJP's mission is to provide federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist crime victims.
Note in particular the Local Law Enforcement Block Grants Program (LLEBGP), which awards grants to local jurisdictions to help them reduce crime and improve public safety. Local jurisdictions can use the grant to purchase equipment (including radio systems) directly related to basic law enforcement functions, among other things. For more information on LLEBGP, call (202) 616-3230.
The Office of Victims of Crime administers the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Victim Assistance Grant Program, one part of which states that victim services in rural and remote areas can also be improved by using VOCA funds to support electronic networking through computers, police radios, and cellular phones. For more information on VOCA call (202) 307-5983.
Finally, the National
Institute of Justice, partnering with the U.S.
Department of Transportation and the International Association
of Chiefs of Police, sponsors the ("http://alert.tamu.edu/")
Advanced Law Enforcement and Response Technology (ALERT) system.
ALERT places a powerful mix of computer and communications
technology into the front seat of police squad cars. Developed
by the Texas Transportation Institute and many other industry
partners, The award winning ALERT system accommodates the
sharing of all kinds of digital information, including digital
images. Data communications are maintained between the hand
held unit, the vehicle, other vehicles, and Computer-Aided
Do You Have the Right Browser?
TIIAP grantees who will be using the new online reporting system should have the most recent browser, either Microsoft Explorer or Netscape Navigator, installed on their systems in order to be able to take full advantage of the system and avoid potential problems.
Since they are both free (we assume you've been following the Microsoft antitrust proceedings here in Washington), it's a simple and painless upgrade.
If you see a list of links below, click on any of them to find a website that has both Explorer and Navigator available for immediately downloading. Otherwise, just go directly to Netscape or Microsoft:
A Free Web Presence for Nonprofits
Here's an item we ran across in the Philanthropy Journal.
CitySearch, an Internet company providing online business, entertainment and community guides in major metropolitan areas, offers a free Web presence and discount multi-page sites to nonprofit groups in 11 areas across the country. CitySearch offers a variety of Web options to nonprofits, says Tim Tompkins, community relationship manager for CitySearch in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina.
"Nonprofits can submit information for a free, one-page profile," Tompkins says. "They can notify us of upcoming events as they would any other media outlet." CitySearch also gives nonprofits a 20 percent discount on full Web site service that includes design and maintenance. Rates are based on the complexity of the client's needs and number of pages. Monthly costs can range from $48 to $100. Frequent updates may incur extra charges of $5 each.
The company gives both paying and profiled nonprofits event promotion in banners inside CitySearch sites. CitySearch employees also give a variety of marketing seminars, some of them free, to nonprofits. They cover such basics as how to use Internet browsing software and strategies for marketing Web sites.
Some TIIAP grantees or their partners may find this service
useful and cost-effective. Tompkins estimates that in just
the Research Triangle area alone, CitySearch has provided in-kind
gifts to Triangle groups at roughly $1 million so far. Those
gifts including staff involvement and Web and server space.
Funding Resources for Education
Here are some Federal programs that provide funding for Information Technology-related projects in the area of education, culture, and lifelong learning. When you are looking for federal support, it's important to include organizations that provide funds for technology-related efforts. Often, an existing grant program may support projects which include technology components.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture maintains a Web site with links to a number of federal and non-profit programs that provide funding for distance learning.In addition to Federal sources, there are also a number of foundations and independent organizations that maintain online funding information resources for Information Technology-related projects
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Quest project maintains a web site with links to financial support for your network projects.
A number of web pages provide links to innovative projects in education, culture, and lifelong learning including our own TIIAP website; the Global Information Infrastructure Awards; and the Benton Foundation.