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Community Council Meeting 1/30/98

Members Present Members Absent
Jim Lowe Bob Sweeney Lowell Johnson Judi Morgan
Gary Kiel Donna Hammack Gary Warren Tim Lowenstein
Jim Beatty Lance Hedquist
Chris Hoy Jeanne Saathoff

Presenters/guests: Lieutenant Governor Kim Robak; Rod Armstrong; Bill Miller; Leslie Perry; Ken Christoffersen

  1. At 1 p.m., Lieutenant Governor Kim Robak opened the meeting by saying that she truly believes that "a small group of people can change the world." She explained that the need for improved organization and coordination of state information technology resources had resulted in a new structure that included the community council as well as one for education and government. All three councils would report their recommendations to the Nebraska Information Technology Commission for consideration and action. She expressed her desire to have the community council find a "voice" from the citizens, a way to engage others in the process, with the ultimate goal of making things "better, faster and cheaper."
  2. State Information Technology Coordinator Rod Armstrong spoke next about LB924, Senator Joyce Hillman's priority bill to put the new technology structure into statute. He said the major provisions of the bill included the creation of the NITC; the three councils; and a Chief Information Officer. He also said two funds would be created: a community technology fund and a government technology collaboration fund. He handed out two documents-a membership list of the 1998 legislature and a summary of the key provisions of LB924.
  3. Director of the Division of Communications Bill Miller spoke next and provided information on two major topics-(a) the freeway fiber project and (b) a one-stop government project. The freeway fiber project has to do with the state leveraging its freeway right-of-way into a fiber backbone that would serve many purposes. It is based on activities in Minnesota and other states that have been able to barter with private sector providers interested in running fiber down right-of-ways controlled by the state. The one-stop government project is based on a model developed in Singapore. The concept is to try to make government services more accessible by creating a simple electronic interface for the public to use. Nebraska is considering using Nebraska Online rather than the kiosks the Singapore government used.
  4. Chris Hoy, Chair of the Community Council, spoke next and attempted to define the role and function of the steering committee. He pointed out that the Council had two primary objectives:
    1. to improve the communications between the citizens and the government about telecom needs at the community level;
    2. to help define the appropriate role of the public sector in supporting community IT efforts. He said that examples of functions the Council can perform are needs assessments; a communication center/clearinghouse (the Council has a website available to it on the Nebraska Online homepage); teleliteracy projects (how far should state government go to help produce teleliterate citizens?) Hoy said that the short-term goal of the Council would be to be in a position to submit a report to the NITC by about March 21st that would reflect community needs, etc. Long-term, the Council should design a process that enable it to dig deeper into community IT issues. He also said he intended to visit each Council member and talk in detail about the Council's procedures and goals.
  5. Next, each Council member was asked to state what he/she thought the most significant issues or problems in community IT are now:
    1. Jim Lowe, representing agriculture, said that citizen teleliteracy was the biggest logjam out there. He said he saw a role for government in helping to create teleliterate citizens.
    2. Bob Sweeney, representing the AIM Institute, said tax policies for e-commerce were very important; an "intellectual infrastructure" at the community level to include an ISP, a web master and an IT entrepreneur; he also mentioned that the depreciation schedule for IT hardware should be shortened.
    3. Gary Kiel, representing small business, said that he was concerned that there might be "institutional barriers to microbusiness development" out there. He gave an example of how telecommuting was not being supported by most companies yet.
    4. Donna Hammack, representing the health sector, said she thought teleliteracy was a major factor; she was also concerned about the quality of Internet access in some locations; and she has major concerns about the impact of federal regulations on telemedicine.
    5. Jim Beatty, representing NCS International (a small business), said he thought technical support for citizens was important to think about; and, precisely how IT jobs are finally created.
    6. Jeanne Saathoff, representing public libraries, said she normally groups her ideas under the Awareness-Acceptability-Affordability-Application umbrella. She said that not only was teleliteracy the biggest logjam out there, but that the state has a responsibility to help create teleliterate citizens. She also listed as issues: hardware for public libraries to use; quality Internet access; training (public/private community labs); skilled labor; information sharing; and the impact of property taxes on services.
    7. Lance Hedquist, representing the League of Municipalities, said state law needs to be re-worked because it is presently resulting in duplication of services; he further said that training and hardware were issues as well as equitable, affordable access. He said that the efficiency of city government was also a problem worth noting.
    8. Craig Schroeder, representing the Rural Development Commission, said that exposing rural citizens to appropriate tech models was important. Also, he thought the government could work on providing financial incentives to business owners that would encourage them to experiment with e-commerce. He mentioned teleliteracy and youth outmigration as issues, as well. Guest Leslie Perry, Chair of the Grand Island IT Committee, said that she thought teaching business owners to think "out of the box" was big (she said the business sector was the slowest to adopt IT because of time and money concerns); she mentioned that the Grand Island IT Committee had developed effective one-hour brown bag lunch seminars on IT delivered to business owners by the Chamber and said maybe the state could help develop a curriculum for that kind of thing; she said Grand Island's IT goals included being economically competitive (teleliteracy); helping to evaluate IT infrastructure choices; and serving the "underserved." Guest Ken Christoffersen, Chair of the Gordon IT Committee, said teleliteracy was the big one; he also mentioned the lack of coordination between ESU's and the extension service and others (citizens unable to access state equipment in schools and other institutions); travel expense could be managed better by more use of interactive video; and he recommended more quick, practical achievements: one job, one, not home runs.
  6. The next meeting date was set for 2/27/ to be announced.
Meeting Minutes