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Nebraska Information Technology Commission

Thursday, September 25, 2003
9:30 AM - 11:30 AM CT

Lincoln: Executive Building, Suite 103, 521 So. 14th Street
Scottsbluff: Panhandle Learning Center, High Plains Room, 4502 Avenue I
Kearney: Public Library and Info. Center-2nd Fl., 2020 First Avenue,
Omaha: UNMC Biomedical Communications--Room 4203, 985170 Nebraska Medical Center
Norfolk: NECC MaClay Bldg, Room 122, 801 East Benjamin Avenue
Alliance: Alliance Learning Center, Room 123, 1750 Sweetwater St. (first hour only)


Members Present

Alliance Site (first hour only): Mary Wernke, Letter Perfect Communications

Scottsbluff Site: Georgia Masters Keightley, City of Crawford

Kearney Site: Jeanne Saathoff, Kearney Public Library

Lincoln Site: John Dale, Lincoln City Libraries; Norene Fitzgerald, York County Development Corporation; Roger Keetle, Nebraska Hospital Association; Gene Hand, Public Service Commission: Donna Hammack, St. Elizabeth Foundation; Bruce Thiel, Bryan-LGH East

Norfolk Site: K.C. Belitz, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce; Len Benson, Faith Regional Health System; Ted Smith, Norfolk Public Library

Omaha Site: Max Thacker, UNMC

South Sioux City Site: Lance Hedquist, City of South Sioux City

Call to Order, Roll Call, Introductions, and Notice of Posting

Because Co-Chair Sweeney was unable to attend the meeting and Co-Chair Saathoff was at the Kearney site, Ms. Byers chaired the meeting. The meeting was called to order at 9:35 a.m. A quorum existed to conduct official business. It was stated that the meeting announcement posted on the NITC and the Nebraska Public Meeting Web sites on August 8, 2003 and that the meeting agenda was posted on the NITC Web site and the Nebraska Public Meeting Web site on September 8, 2003.

Approval of May Minutes

Mr. Keetle moved to approve the May 20, 2003 minutes as presented. Ms. Hammack seconded the motion.Roll call vote: Benson-Yes, Dale–Yes, Fitzgerald-Yes, Hammack-Yes, Hedquist-Yes, Keetle-Yes, Keightley-Yes, Saathoff-Yes, Smith-Yes, Thacker-Yes, Thiel-Yes, Hand-Yes, Wernke-Yes Motion was carried by majority vote.

Public Comment

There was no public comment.

Nebraska Telehealth Network Update

Mr. Keetle gave an update on the Nebraska Telehealth Network. (PDF 70k)

At a meeting on September 17, 2003, representatives of the hub hospitals agreed to the following:

  • Hub hospitals agree to use the communication standards, protocols and equipment that comply with or are interoperable with the standards established by the Nebraska Information Technology Commission
  • ·Hub hospitals certify that they have entered into an agreement with an agent designated by the Nebraska Public Service Commission to provide data to evaluate the performance of the Nebraska Telehealth Plan.
  • The design of the telehealth system of the hub hospitals shall not eliminate the participation of any hospital or system because of proprietary equipment, operations systems or membership in associations or affiliation with a particular medical or technical organization.
  • Hub hospitals have entered into an agreement or agreements to support hospitals licensed as Critical Access Hospitals or to provide clinical telehealth services, telehealth educational programs or teleradiology services.
  • Hub hospitals have entered into an agreement to allow any hospital on the network to connect to another hospital.

Mr. Keetle reported that the Nebraska Public Service Commission is receptive to an interim plan which would provide support to hospitals which currently qualify for federal and state support. The Nebraska Hospital Association received a grant to expand plans for the telehealth network to seven state labs and 26 public health departments.

Two subcommittees are being formed. One will address technical issues. The second committee will address the collection of evaluation data and will be chaired by Donna Hammack. Mr. Keetle also commented that one issue that will need to be addressed in the future is multipoint conferencing. Accord switches will be needed for multipoint conferencing and will either need to be purchased by hospitals, included in the service costs charged by telecommunications providers, or contracted with commercial multipoint conferencing service providers. Mr. Keetle thanked Steve Schafer for his assistance in facilitating a meeting with the Bioterrorism Executive Committee.

Network Nebraska Update

Steve Schafer presented some information on the Nebraska Network. Nebraska is the first state to implement an MPLS backbone. The state has already begun the migration to the backbone. The University of Nebraska plans to migrate in stages in order to minimize service disruption. Negotiations are underway with Qwest to extend the backbone to Norfolk, North Platte, and Alliance. Qwest will deploy an ATM network which should be compatible with the MPLS backbone from Omaha to Kearney. The second phase of the network should be implemented by January. Ted Smith asked how information on the network is being disseminated. Mr. Schafer explained that information including a brochure and a customer service manual are currently being developed. Ms. Keightley asked if there were plans to extend the network further west than Alliance. Mr. Schafer responded that there may be secondary aggregation points in Scottsbluff or Chadron.

Several members of the Community Council and Telehealth Subcommittee have been participating in the Interim Network Policy Work Group. The workgroup is composed of members of all three councils, and the Technical Panel. The Community Council was asked to approve the charter for the Interim Network Policy Work Group (PDF 133k).

Roger Keetle made a motion to approve the Interim Network Policy Work Group Charter. Bruce Thiel seconded the motion. Roll call vote: Belitz-Yes, Benson-Yes, Dale–Yes, Fitzgerald-Yes, Hammack-Yes, Hedquist-Yes, Keetle-Yes, Keightley-Yes, Saathoff-Yes, Smith-Yes, Thacker-Yes, Thiel-Yes, Hand-Yes, Motion was carried by majority vote.

The Council also discussed wireless service quality issues. Gene Hand provided an update on the Nebraska Public Service Commission's efforts to address these issues. The Nebraska Public Service Commission has just issued their 2003 Annual Report on Telecommunications. The report contains a letter by Commissioner Boyle which provides an overview of the accomplishments of the Commission, issues facing the Commission, and the Commission's intention to request enabling authority to bring wireless communications providers under the same service and billing standards as wireline carriers. The report is available at

Technologies Across Nebraska Update

IT Planning and Mini Grant Program. Ms. Byers reported that six out of the eight communities participating in year one of the IT Planning and Mini Grant Program have completed their technology plans. The year-end report (PDF 148k) details lessons learned and the progress of the participating communities and regional groups.

Crawford and Harrison formed a regional committee to participate in the program. Crawford used a portion of their mini grant funds for an engineering study required to submit an application to the USDA Rural Utilities Service. Crawford has been waiting to hear if their application will be funded before developing their technology plan. Ms. Byers congratulated Mayor Georgia Keightley on Crawford's recently announced grant from the USDA Rural Utilities Service.

Mary Wernke reported that Alliance had completed their technology plan and has been offering one-on-one training to businesses. A REAP class will be offered this fall.

Norene Fitzgerald reported that York had completed their plan. E-commerce and E-government are two areas on which York will be focusing their efforts. Also, the senior center is putting in a computer lab which will facilitate training--especially of seniors--in the community.

Community IT Planning Workbook. The Community IT Planning Workbook (PDF 2MB) has been revised and expanded. The workbook is starting to gain national recognition and will be used in Minnesota as part of building demand for broadband project.

TANgents. When community technology committees were surveyed last spring, they indicated that their most preferred method of receiving information was through an electronic newsletter. In order the meet this need, Technologies Across Nebraska has begun publishing an electronic newsletter. Several Community Council members contributed to the first issue. Members are encouraged to contact Anne Byers with ideas for articles. TANgents is available from

Community Technology Fund Update

Ms. Byers prepared a report on the 2002 Community Technology Fund for the NITC's next meeting. Ms. Byers thanked members for their work in reviewing grant applications. Lance Hedquist gave a brief update on South Sioux City's wireless project, one of the projects funded from the 2002 Community Technology Fund.

Next Meeting Date and Location

The Community Council will probably meet again in January.


The meeting was adjourned at 11:00.

Meeting Minutes