Science & Technology
Connect Iowa Joins Forces With Iowa Association of Regional Councils to Improve High-Speed Internet Access, Adoption, & Use Across the State PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Jessica Ditto   
Monday, 23 January 2012 13:18

Local Leaders Seek to Enlist Community Participation in Achieving Broadband Expansion

Des Moines, IA – Today, Connect Iowa and the Iowa Association of Regional Councils (IARC) announced a new partnership to launch a statewide “Connected” community engagement program aimed at increasing broadband access, adoption, and use. High-speed Internet is the key to attracting quality jobs, improving education, putting people in touch with government services, and building an all-around better quality of life. In collaboration with Connect Iowa, members of the Iowa Association of Regional Councils are taking charge of expanding broadband’s reach in their communities.

Last week, staff of regional Council of Governments (COGs) from all over the state took an intensive weeklong Connect Iowa training and began forming teams of local leaders who want to help create the plan for broadband expansion in their community. These leaders arrived back home this week with a critical new mission: revive their communities through broadband expansion.

“Getting all of Iowa connected to quality broadband is vital to the economic development of our state. Iowa's Councils of Governments, in conjunction with IARC, will be the driving force in getting the Connect Iowa initiative up and running in each of their regions,” says Iowa Association of Regional Councils Executive Director Nichole Warren. “They’ll be reaching out to their community leaders and asking them to join the local planning teams.”

Last week, Connect Iowa announced the formation of a new broadband advisory committee that will help guide and oversee this new initiative.

“We are thrilled to be joining forces with IARC to begin working in the local communities,” says Connect Iowa Program Manager Amy Kuhlers. “Change happens at the local level and by drawing in our relationships with the providers and local leaders and combining that with the intelligence we’ve gathered through our maps and research, we can identify solutions that best fit the community.”

Connected is a community-based initiative to accelerate broadband access, adoption, and use. The certification process benefits communities through a process of assessment, benchmarking, and planning by helping participants identify their community’s technological strengths and challenges and helping community partners match up with local opportunities.

“Connect Iowa’s Connected community program is an amazing opportunity for towns and regions across the state to assess their broadband needs and find real solutions,” says Kuhlers. “The aim is to put the tools in the hands of the community, help them do a detailed assessment of what the true local needs are, and then construct an informed plan to get the community connected in the most efficient way possible. It could be updating a school’s network or getting access to an unserved community, but the best part is that each plan will be custom-tailored to each region’s own specific needs and landscape.”

Anyone with an interest in bringing better broadband to local homes and businesses is encouraged to join in the community planning effort. For more information on how to get involved, please contact Kuhlers at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 515-421-2561.

Local COG leaders are listed below.

# # #

About Connect Iowa: Connect Iowa is a subsidiary of Connected Nation and operates as a nonprofit in the state of Iowa to promote broadband access, adoption, and use. The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) is leading the initiative to increase broadband Internet access throughout rural Iowa. Connect Iowa was commissioned by the state to work with all broadband providers in Iowa to create detailed maps of broadband coverage and develop a statewide plan for the deployment and adoption of broadband. For more information visit: http://www.connectiowa.org.

Follow Connect Iowa on Facebook and Twitter.

Agency/ COG

Contact

Address

Phone

Email

Counties

Area 15 Regional Planning Commission

Matt Bauman

P. O. Box 1110

Ottumwa, Iowa 52501

 

(641) 684-6551

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Davis, Keokuk, Jefferson, Mahaska, Van Buren, Wappello

 

Bi-State Regional Commission

Doug DeLille

1504 Third Avenue
P.O. Box 3368

Rock Island, Illinois 61204-3368

(309) 793-6300

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Muscatine, Scott

East Central Intergovernmental Association

 

Kelsey McElroy Anderson

7600 Commerce Park

Dubuque, Iowa 52002

(563) 556-4166

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Cedar, Clinton

Delaware, Dubuque

Jackson

East Central Iowa Council of Governments

Tracy DeKoter & Hilary Copeland

700 16th Street NE, Suite 301

Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402

 

(319) 365-9941

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Benton, Iowa, Johnson, Jones

Linn, Washington

Iowa Northland Regional Council of Governments

Kyle Durant

229 E. Park Avenue

Waterloo, Iowa 50703

 

(319) 235-0311

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Black Hawk, Bremer

Buchanan, Butler

Chickasaw, Grundy

Metropolitan Area Planning Agency

Clint Sloss

2222 Cuming Street
Omaha, NE 68102

(402) 444-6866

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Mills, Pottawattamie

MIDAS Council of Governments

Carissa Miller

602 First Avenue South

Fort Dodge, Iowa 50501

(515) 576-7183

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Calhoun, Hamilton

Humboldt, Pocahontas, Webster

Wright, Boone

North Iowa Area Council of Governments

Dan Schroeder & Dana Heimbuch

525 Sixth St. S.W.

Mason City, Iowa 50401

 

(641) 423-0491

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Cerro Gordo, Floyd

Franklin, Hancock

Kossuth, Mitchell

Winnebago, Worth

Northwest Iowa Planning and Development Commission

 

Aaron Sedey

217 W. Fifth Street,
P. O. Box 1493

Spencer, Iowa 51301

 

(712) 262-7225

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Buena Vista, Clay

Dickinson, Emmet

Lyon, O’Brien

Osceola, Palo Alto

Sioux

 

Region 6 Planning Commission

 

Donna Sampson

 

903 E. Main Street

Marshalltown, Iowa 50158

 

 

(641) 752-0717


This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Hardin, Marshall

Poweshiek, Tama

 

Region XII Council of Governments

Stacy Lentsch

1009 East Anthony Street
P.O. Box 768

Carroll, Iowa 51401

 

(712) 792-9914

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Audubon, Carroll

Crawford, Greene

Guthrie, Sac

Dallas

Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission

Justin Bushong

211 N. Gear Avenue, Suite 100
West Burlington, IA 52655

(319) 753- 5107

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Des Moines, Henry

Lee County, Louisa

Southern Iowa Council of Governments

Andrew Collings

101 East Montgomery Street

Creston, Iowa 50801-0102

 

(641) 782-8491

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Adair, Adams, Clarke

Decatur, Madison

Ringgold , Taylor

Union

Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan

Planning Council

Andrea Westergard

1122 Pierce Street
P.O. Box 1077

Sioux City, Iowa 51102

 

(712) 279-6286

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Cherokee, Ida

Plymouth, Woodbury

Southwest Iowa Planning Council

John McCurdy

1501 S.W. Seventh Street

Atlantic, Iowa 50022

(712) 243-4196

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Cass, Fremont

Harrison, Montgomery, Page

Shelby

Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission

Casey Mai

325 Washington St., Suite A

Decorah, Iowa 52101

 

(563) 382-6171

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Allamakee , Clayton

Fayette, Howard

Winneshiek

IARC

Nichole Warren

1123 Sandalwood Ct. SW

Altoona, IA 50009

(515)554-3210

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Polk, Jasper, Story, Warren, Marion, Lucas, Appanoose, Monroe & Wayne

 
Blackout: Internet Users Aren't the Only Ones Who Depend on Technology PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Laurie Johns   
Monday, 23 January 2012 13:14

My 14-year-old daughter is a quiet, serious soul who isn’t prone to hysterics or drama, so you can imagine my reaction when I heard a shriek and a ‘slam’ come from her room this week.  Was it a mouse? A rabid raccoon in the backyard? No, the Internet had ‘crashed’ right as she was trying to access information while writing an English paper.

Teenagers, lawmakers and otherwise-sane-adults sounded a collective ‘gasp’ when more than 10,000 websites shut down in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act bill.   Millions of signatures and petitions were gathered in a single day because Americans wanted Congress to get this point: we need technology.

Well, here’s my point: we also need to embrace technology in farming.  It seems farming is the only industry that people want to remain unchanged from the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s.  Maybe that’s because the last time many Americans were on a farm, it was before the Internet.  Back then, weeds from soybean fields were removed by roving bands of hoe-swinging, sweaty teenagers.   Back then, corn was put in the fields with six row planters (if you’re lucky) and it took three days to harvest a 100-acre field and all that work would bring a farmer less than $2 per bushel.  Yields were a fraction of what they are today.   There weren’t a lot of choices in production; farming was labor intensive and fewer farm kids went on to college because that’s just the way things were.

Today, tractors are bigger, yields are bigger, and corn prices are twice what they were in the 80’s.  That’s not all that’s gaining ground in rural Iowa today; college education levels, which once hovered around 10 percent in the 1980’s, are now over 30 percent.  There are more choices in food production; you want organic?  Iowa farmers grow it.  You want conventional?  Iowa farmers grow it.  What you want depends on what you are able and willing to pay.

Clearly, technology in farming has brought more choices to you and me. I, for one, am glad for those choices, and the progress that made them possible.  It’s food for thought; as you wheel your cart down the grocery aisle, armed with your iPhone-enabled QR-code price scanners, there’s no going back.  And, for that matter, who would want to?

 
Connect Iowa, Iowa Economic Development Authority Launch New Advisory Committee on Broadband PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Jessica Ditto   
Friday, 13 January 2012 14:11

New advisory committee kicks off intensive community broadband expansion program

Des Moines, IA – This week, Connect Iowa and the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) convened the first broadband advisory committee meeting, kicking off a new community engagement effort to expand broadband access, adoption, and use across the state. Community leaders from around Iowa are now joining forces to oversee the expansion of high-speed Internet to every corner of the state. Connect Iowa’s new broadband advisory committee includes elected officials, public service agency representatives, providers, educators, librarians, and business people. Their common goal is to support and guide the Connect Iowa initiative.

During the meeting broadband stakeholders discussed the history of broadband expansion in the state, and the plan for bringing broader access to Iowa communities in the coming year. The meeting was a great success and set the groundwork for how diverse broadband stakeholders can work together to further progress across the state in 2012.

“The inauguration of our broadband advisory committee marks an important step for Connect Iowa and signals our commitment to closing the digital gap that persists in our communities,” says Connect Iowa Program Manager Amy Kuhlers. “We are excited to be bolstered by the support of key stakeholders representing all areas of economic interest. Connect Iowa, with the support of the advisory committee, is undertaking the important work of building grassroots regional planning to grow and expand technology use in communities across the state.”

The closing of the digital adoption gap in Iowa will have a significant impact on the way citizens learn, work, and live their daily lives. According to Connect Iowa’s latest broadband availability research from the 2011 Iowa residential and business surveys:

  • 37% of Iowa households still do not subscribe to broadband at home
  • 45% of Iowans living in rural areas do not subscribe to broadband service at home
  • 23,000 Iowa businesses are still not using broadband despite the fact that Iowa businesses that use broadband make an average of $259,000 more in annual revenue than businesses without

“The first meeting of the advisory council was really interesting because there were so many people representing different pieces of the broadband puzzle around the table,” said committee member and Iowa State Librarian Mary Wegner. “I am excited that we will be working together to improve broadband adoption in Iowa, improve the speed, and get more Iowans using broadband. The most important part, and the part where libraries really come into the picture, is to help Iowans really understand the limitless opportunities and what they can do when they have access to high-speed Internet.”

Connect Iowa, in collaboration with the Iowa Economic Development Authority, is working with broadband providers and other public and private partners to speed up the expansion of broadband in unserved and underserved areas. The organization is pinpointing remaining gaps in Iowa’s broadband availability and supporting the development of a statewide plan for the deployment and adoption of technology that promises economic development and better quality of life for Iowa residents.

The committee’s first meeting kicked off a week of intensive training for a new grassroots program that Connect Iowa will be unveiling next week. The committee expects to meet quarterly with the next meeting planned for April.

If you have suggestions regarding how technology can be improved to better serve your community, Connect Iowa wants to hear from you. To submit comments, ideas, or gain access to the initiative’s many online tools and resources, please visit www.connectiowa.org or contact Amy Kuhlers at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

# # #

About Connect Iowa: Connect Iowa is a subsidiary of Connected Nation and operates as a nonprofit in the state of Iowa to promote broadband access, adoption, and use. The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) is leading the initiative to increase broadband Internet access throughout rural Iowa. Connect Iowa was commissioned by the state to work with all broadband providers in Iowa to create detailed maps of broadband coverage and develop a statewide plan for the deployment and adoption of broadband. For more information visit: www.connectiowa.org.

 
Understanding Internet Speeds PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by John Ogren   
Tuesday, 10 January 2012 15:48

By John Ogren, President, SpeedConnect, www.speedconnect.com

--- On the Internet, speed means everything. It is the time it takes to receive and send data. Speed on the Internet is measured in terms of bits. Bits is the electronic time it takes to go from zeros to ones in the computer world we live in.

When a connection is advertised as being a 10 megabit or a five megabit or a three megabit service, that turns into the millions of bits--or the millions of times that the switch rate from on to off on a data transmission is changed. Bits are captured or consolidated into bites. There are eight bits in a bite, and actual data throughput is measured in bites. For example, a simple e-mail that someone might send might be as little as 20 bites, whereas a full feature-length movie might be as much as three gigabytes. When you are looking at the speed of your Internet connection, what speed gives you is a lot of bits transmitted very fast, and those bits are assembled into bites, and the bites are the amount of information that you are downloading from your connection.

Generally speaking, speed is better because, of course, you want a very fast connection to be able to watch a movie live without buffering, or to put a Web page up very quickly. But at the same time, it is very important that the connection that you have be able to maintain or sustain your speed. A flash or a quick splash of data is relatively easy for an Internet provider, but to keep that speed up over a long time, like what it takes to watch a movie on-line, is much more difficult. You need to look for the rate that the information comes up and then the sustained rate, the steady rate, that your Internet service provider provides.

Upload and download.

That's the time it takes for the data to leave your computer and get to someone else's server. Most of the time, we are concerned about download speeds because these days you are either downloading a movie or downloading a file that someone has sent you, so downloads are typically advertised. You will hear Internet service providers advertise three or four or five, or maybe as many as 20 megabit speeds. They are usually talking about download speeds.

Few of us talk about uploads, which are typically, in residential services, quite a bit slower. Very often, you might have speeds that are as much as 10 megabits download, and only maybe one or two megabits upload. In slower connections, you may see one megabit as a download and as little as 128 kilobits as your upload speed.

The reason is that the networks are typically built to provide a high download, and that is at the sacrifice or compromise of upload. Upload speeds become important when you have a bunch of pictures that you have taken and they are now on your computer, and you want to send them to a relative. That's where upload would become important. You might notice that it would take a lot longer for your pictures to upload than the pictures that had been sent to you to download.

More bandwidth, please.

With more of us grabbing increasing amounts of data from the Internet, Internet service provider (ISP) speeds will determine whether your browser responds quickly or sluggishly. Again, speed is important. The ability of your ISP to sustain speeds, or provide steady speeds, is even more important. But, the fact of the matter is, as more and more people are using a connection simultaneously for more and more of the same high-demand multimedia--applications like video, music, gaming and others--the pressure on us as ISPs to increase our capacity is great. And that, of course, means money.

The more robust--the more capacity that the network has--the greater ability it has to support multiple uses at the same time. That's the challenge: To provide our customers with a very fast experience, but also an experience that has enough capacity to meet all their needs at the same time.

I think that anyone that has been a consumer in the modern information world that we live in knows that, where once upon a time a dial connection seemed like more than enough, that isn't even broadband today. In order to raise a family and put kids through school and do a little work at home, you need a very high-speed connection. Even what you might have needed a couple years ago, maybe a 1.5 megabit service, would have seemed fine because most of what you did was e-mail and some Web surfing. Today that doesn't begin to be enough. You're looking for three, five or seven megabits of information so that you can do the multimedia stuff that we all want the Internet for.

Of course, that isn't going to stop. Everyday there are more and more new high tech multimedia applications that become available to us. Just the download of applications to our multiple devices takes a lot of bandwidth. Those applications, once they are downloaded, take bandwidth. Our software is constantly being upgraded by the manufactures that sold it to us and, of course, there is the endless multimedia that we are shooting from videos to still pictures. All of that means more and more bandwidth.

I don't know what the future holds, but I would not be surprised if someday we all wake up and think that 50 megabit service is just enough to get by.

 
Midland Communications Helps Law Firms Go Green and Increase Productivity by Utilizing Unified Communications PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Janet Dufour   
Friday, 23 December 2011 16:23
Leading Business Technology Provider Changes the Way Law Firms Communicate

DAVENPORT, IA - December 20, 2011 - Midland Communications, a leading provider of unified communications, announced today that the company is placing special emphasis on bringing its innovative technology and applications to the rapidly growing legal industry.  Midland Communications has a number of valuable communications and data networking solutions that support the needs of the legal community.  These solutions have the unique ability of increasing productivity while decreasing the firm's carbon footprint because of the significant impact they have on attorney's commute times, marketing efforts, reduction of office space and reduction in operational costs.
"An attorney's time is very valuable and anything we can do to increase their efficiency has a dramatic impact to a law firm," said Jason Smith, Vice President of Midland Communications.  "The utilization of technology solutions like Unified Communications enhances a firm's green initiatives by drastically reducing the use of paper, reducing travel by utilizing video conferencing or web collaboration and allowing attorneys to receive calls, faxes and voicemails anytime, anywhere. This allows attorneys to work from home, at the courthouse or while they are visiting a client at their residence, while still providing the quality experience that both the firm and their clients have come to expect."

Unified Communication solutions provide a number of impressive benefits which increase productivity in law firms. One example is presence management, which informs assistants and partners of where the attorneys are located at all times. Another is call recording, which allows lawyers to save recordings to client files and email them internally. Conference call management integrates with Microsoft Outlook and call attached data tracks who called and other various statistics as well.  Fax-to-email and  the ability to schedule outgoing faxes through a fax server lower telecommunication costs help businesses go paperless. Furthermore, businesses can benefit multiple office connectivity through VoIP, which unifies all incoming and outgoing communication.  Additionally, law firms benefit significantly because attorneys are no longer tethered to a desk when they take advantage of Unified Communications' mobile capabilities. Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, enable law firms to increase productivity in a myriad of other ways as well.
The Unified Communications interface has been developed with the end user's specific needs in mind. This essentially means that the front-end of these systems are extremely easy to operate regardless of the individual's age or technical know-how.  The advanced technology is hidden within each solution and may be managed internally by the organization's IT department or by certified team of Unified Communications professionals.
"Legal is a very unique industry and we have partnered with leading Unified Communication manufacturers who make these solutions cost effective by integrating all these capabilities into a single box solution," added Jason Smith. "The types of solutions we offer greatly benefit law firms as well as make the lives of their attorneys easier and less stressful."

ABOUT MIDLAND COMMUNICATIONS
Midland Communications began more than 60 years ago in 1946 as the Worldwide Marketing Arm of Victor-Animagraph Projectors. In 1977 a communications division was formed due to a partnership with NEC America. Today, As a distributor of NEC America, for 33 years, Midland Communications has a customer base of more than 3,000 satisfied customers that include general businesses, government agencies, Universities, colleges, hospitals, and hotels.
Midland provides a wide range of communication services including VOIP, PBX and key systems, Wide Area and Local Area networking, computers, Computer integration, voice mail, CCIS, and video conferencing and paging systems. Our philosophy is simple, provide quality products at a fair price, backed by an average emergency response time of twenty minutes, and the best service in the industry. For more information on Midland Communications, call (563) 326-1237 or visit www.midlandcom.com.

 
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