National Association of Legislative Information Technology (NALIT)
NALIT Newsletter, Fall 2012

 

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Chair's Corner

It’s a bird – it’s a plane – it’s Super PDS. Yes, the Super PDS (Professional Development Seminar) successfully concluded, and it seemed to go very well. I enjoyed seeing staff from other sections whom I have seen at the summits, but with whom I never was able to interact. I thought the mix of multi-section meetings worked, while at the same time we were able to be with our own group to interact and gain needed information. I want to thank all who presented, and all who attended and brought great questions, opinions and solutions to help us navigate our ever-changing technical environments. And a great thanks to our Wisconsin peers for a venue that was enjoyable and comfortable. For those who could not attend, please check our NALIT site to see what was offered and considered. I hope you may be able to attend the next PDS or Summit.
 
For all the information discussed and presented, the Super PDS reinforced the premise that we are dedicated public servants–-one staff attorney made a statement to that effect that was true for all. We work for the institution but learn to adapt to new legislators and their ideas, whether or not we are partisan staff. The institution’s mission remains the same. The players change and bring with them old ideas with a different twist or new ideas that must be formulated, debated and brought before the body for consideration. In each of these phases, technology plays an important role. Thus, we need to provide—not only to our leadership, but also to our members and staff—the necessary tools to quickly and efficiently complete their jobs, on issues that are of the utmost importance to the citizens of our states.
 
We need to have robust drafting and financial systems as well as office automation products and email to allow all legislative staff to work in the most productive and efficient manner. In addition, we can lend our expertise to the legislative police and sergeants-at-arms as they bring on line modern security equipment to safeguard everyone in the legislative complex. Although we need to provide these tools, we must take care to not make using technology cumbersome.
 
As more expectations are put upon technology—to cloud or not to cloud, to tablet or not, to BYOD or not—one constant remains: IT staff must keep up with evolving technology and understand where it can fit into our organizations. Thus, there is no better setting than our professional development seminars to help us keep up to date. For me, the last PDS and Summit lived up to that expectation.
 
We all are busy preparing for our sessions or our everyday tasks. It’s important to remember, however, that “all work and no play…”. So, I hope that everyone will have time to enjoy the holiday season and recharge themselves for what undoubtedly will be a challenging year for all.
 
Regards,
Peter Capriglione
Chair


iPads in State Legislatures

I invited  states that I know use iPads in their legislature to contribute information for a composite iPad article aimed at providing a synopsis of how iPads are being used in state legislatures, especially for members who haven’t been able to attend NCSL or the recent Super PDS.

Hopefully, this will give NALIT members a quick review of the extent to which iPads are being used.
--Joel Redding, NALIT Secretary
 
AlaskaCalifornia | Colorado | Idaho | Kansas | North Carolina | Ohio | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas House | Vermont | Virginia House | Virginia Senate | West Virginia

ALASKA
What are you using iPads for?
Most of our members and staff use their iPads for quick and easy access to email and Web browsing. The Alaska Legislature also has an iPad app that pulls and ‘repackages’ our legislative website data for the iPad and iPhone form factors. The iPad app allows you to track legislation, watch or listen to meetings and/or look up information on legislators and bills.
How many are in use (all legislators, pilot groups, etc.) and what percentage of your total users does that represent?
Alaska’s Legislative Council approved purchasing one iPad for each legislative office (60) in 2011. In addition to this purchase, a number of offices and committees (including House and Senate Finance) have purchased iPads for their staff and members. More than 100 iPads currently are in use in the Alaska Legislature.
Did you purchase them or have the members buy their own?
In Alaska, we support iPads that were purchased with state funds, purchased with allowance accounts, or iPads that are employee-owned. Of course, our level of support varies as to whether the device is state-owned or personal-owned (and used by staff).
Any fallout for going to them? Do the members like them?
The feedback we have received has generally been good. In our environment, IOS devices are very good for consuming media (including email and Web), but are less than desirable for creating content when compared to laptops and desktop computers.
What was the biggest challenge?
There were (and continue to be) a number of challenges related to iPad deployment and support, including document creation and printing. However, the most challenging issue is coordinating creation of ‘Apple IDs’ for our employees who use state-owned devices and the ongoing purchase of apps from the app store.
Did you obtain training for a programmer to write an iPad app? Or training for other support staff?
No formal training was provided to our two app programmers (IOS and Android). We used Appcelerator’s Titanium program to write our app. Our programmers used the training aids and documentation that was available from the Appcelerator website.
Do you support other tablets or just iPads?
We have an app in the Apple App Store, and we also have an Android app in the Android ‘Play Store,’  We do not officially support Android devices, except to make sure they can receive state email, and also can use our Android app.
--Curtis Clothier

CALIFORNIA
What are you using iPads for?

Assembly Rules Binder. This application allows the legislator access to the agenda of the committee and all corresponding documents. Eventually, we hope to expand this to all committees.
How many are in use (all legislators, pilot groups, etc.) and what percentage of your total users does that represent?
Only a few committee staff currently are using it as a test, but we are planning for its eventual use by about 120 legislators and staff.
Did you purchase them or have the members buy their own?
We are still looking at how to do this.
Any fallout for going to them? Do the members like them?
We don’t know yet; we will find out this session.
What was the biggest challenge?
Our biggest challenge was creating an application that would display our legislative PDF documents on any type of device.
Did you obtain training for a programmer to write an iPad app? Or training for other support staff?
We did no specialized training.
Do you support other tablets or just iPads?
We hope to support multiple tablets.
--Mendora Servin 

COLORADO
To reduce the amount of paper used on the floor and in committees, the Colorado legislature has decided to provide iPads to all members for the 2013 session. The legislature plans to purchase an iPad for each member unless a member prefers to use his or her own iPad to avoid campaign use of state-owned resources. Personally owned iPads will be covered by an MDM solution to ensure compliance with mobile device usage policy. For this phase, only a few non-IT staff members will receive iPads.

We have decided initially to create an app exclusively for legislator use. The app will provide bill and other legislative data customized for each member. The biggest challenges were deciding on the technology and direction for development of the app and preventing scope creep for the first release. A significant amount of time and effort was spent testing different technologies and platforms. The decision was made to go with iPads instead of Android tablets for the mobile device hardware. We decided to go with a third-party product app that would serve as a platform for deploying our application. Using a third-party app helps avoid the dreaded Apple app store deployment process. This app also allows offline access and does not require users to authenticate at regular intervals. Another advantage is that the app is supported on multiple platforms such as BlackBerries, Androids and, hopefully, Windows 8 mobile in the future, thereby future-proofing our mobile application. We also will provide a few basic productivity apps on every iPad managed by the MDM solution.

We added a contract programmer to our mobile app development team to meet our 2013 session deadline. One development challenge we face being programmers is designing the UI for the tablet touchscreen. We also see some scope creep for our first release. Since more than one-third of the legislators are new, we expect to see a higher level of acceptance for the app. At the same time, however, a significant amount of training and encouragement will be necessary so that the entire body is up to speed with using the application. Initially, we will focus on automating the floor processes in the app and will start working on committee processes after the first release. We plan to train members one on one when we hand out the iPads and hold training sessions for staff who would work closely with the members. We hope to reach a point with the app where, in future sessions, members no longer will use paper copies of bills or related documents.
--Manish Jani 

IDAHO
What are you using iPads for?

During Idaho’s last legislative session, iPads were used in a pilot project to determine whether they should replace the current legislative laptops, which were due to be refreshed. Four iPads and four Samsung Galaxy Android tablets were purchased and distributed to members for two-week durations. About 30 members participated. In addition, members who owned tablets were encouraged to participate by using designated apps and answering a usage survey. For iPads, Print Central was used for printing, with virtual machines set up on our network as WePrint servers. For Android, PrinterShare was used. Dropbox and QuickOffice were used in each environment.
How many are in use (all legislators, pilot groups, etc.) and what percentage of your total users does that represent?
Besides the tablets purchased for the pilot project, 27 members brought in their own tablets: 20 iPads and seven Androids. This represented about 26 percent of members. By next session, the number should be higher.
Did you purchase them or have the members buy their own?
Other than the eight pilot project devices, the members have purchased their own.
Any fallout for going to them? Do the members like them?
We have not actually “gone to them.” Our pilot project revealed several functions for which iPads were not successful. Even the members who owned their own devices indicated they thought it would be a poor idea to replace the laptops with iPads. The members really like them as portable devices, but not as laptop replacements.
What was the biggest challenge?
The iPads were poor at sending email to distributions lists, document processing and printing. iPad owners also sometimes receive attached .pdf files as winmail.dat files. A conversion program is required to extract the content.
Did you obtain training for a programmer to write an iPad app? Or training for other support staff?
No training has been given for iPad app development or support. Support staff have been encouraged to spend time using the iPad and Android tablets that were purchased for the pilot project. A few programmers are taking training for Android app development, and it is anticipated that at least one will attend an iPad application development class.
Do you support other tablets or just iPads?
Yes, we support Android tablets in addition to iPads.
 --Glenn Harris

KANSAS
The Kansas Legislature has been testing tablet PCs for seven years, including Toshiba rotating screen tablets, iPad, Android devices and, most recently, the Samsung Windows 8 tablet. The pilot projects have targeted specific legislative committees. This allowed us to work with the committee chairperson to develop work processes for the committees that use the tablet functions and involve users who have various technical skill levels. We have run these pilots for as many as 40 users, which represents 24 percent of our legislative body.
 
Our experience has been that some users love the light weight and mobility of the tablet, especially when they are viewing documents and email or browsing the Internet. Handwriting recognition has been difficult for some users to implement well, and many users needed a full-size keyboard to work efficiently. Carrying a portable keyboard negates the mobility benefits of the tablet for most of our users. We also have some areas of the Capitol where wireless access is sketchy; users need an Ethernet connection in these spaces. Our Apple sales representative was unable to locate an Ethernet adapter for the iPad, making this an impractical choice for us. We also experienced loss of functionality within our legislative application on Android applications, although the application tested well on Windows and iOS devices. Most recently, we tested the Samsung Windows 8 tablet and found the familiarity of Windows file structure appealing. Based on user experience, we are distributing Dell XPS13 Ultrabook laptops to our legislators for the 2013 session, even though the Samsung tested well in our environment.
 
The Legislature purchased the tablets for the pilot projects and the Dell XPS13 Ultrabooks that will be used in 2013. Our Service Desk staff also support legislators’ private devices to the best of their ability, as long as the support doesn’t delay or interfere with legislative work. During the 2012 session, we supported 260 personal devices. Service Desk staff are trained on the state-issued devices and rely on manufacturer websites for much of the support of personally owned devices.
 --Terri Clark

NORTH CAROLINA
What are you using iPads for?   

Nothing at this point, although we did pilot them with the IT committee.
How many are in use (all legislators, pilot groups, etc.) and what percentage of your total users does that represent?
Non-NCGA tablets are in use.
Did you purchase them or have the members buy their own?
We purchased the tablets for our pilot.
Any fallout for going to them? Do the members like them?
There was no fallout; members liked using them.
What was the biggest challenge?
Distribution and adding “apps” to them.
Did you obtain training for a programmer to write an iPad app? Or training for other support staff?
No training was necessary. We are fortunate to have an Apple developer in our shop.
Do you support other tablets or just iPads?
We supported the iPad and the Motorola XYBoard.
--Peter Capriglione 

OHIO
What are you using iPads for?

The House and Senate are piloting them in one committee each. The Senate is using them and going to their public website. The House has an app that contains all the bills, analysis, amendments and testimony. Both chambers expect to distribute them to the entire chamber in January.
How many are in use (all legislators, pilot groups, etc.) and what percentage of your total users does that represent?
In the House, 25 of 99 members use them, and in the Senate 12 of 33 members. Many members already have a personal tablet.
Did you purchase them or have the members buy their own?
We purchased them and they stay in the committee room. The members cannot take them out of committee for any purpose.
Any fallout for going to them? Do the members like them?
They love them. They were really excited about not having to carry paper around.
What was the biggest challenge?
Distributing them to the seats before committee and making sure they are charged.
Did you obtain training for a programmer to write an iPad app? Or training for other support staff?
We had a local consulting company develop the app, but we are looking at what is needed to develop and support the app and future apps ourselves.
Do you support other tablets or just iPads?
Just iPads, but will need to branch out next year.
--Kurt McDowell 

SOUTH DAKOTA
What are you using iPads for?

Internet, email, in-office-developed app.
How many are in use (all legislators, pilot groups, etc.) and what percentage of your total users does that represent?
We have 30 for the 2013 session legislator pilot group, which represents 23 percent of the total 105 legislators.
Did you purchase them or have the members buy their own?
We purchased them.
Any fallout for going to them? Do the members like them?
We don’t know yet; this session will be our first experience with them.
Did you obtain training for a programmer to write an iPad app? Yes  Or training for other support staff? No.
Do you support other tablets or just iPads?
Both HP tablets and iPads.
--Lou Adamson
 
TENNESSEE
What are you using iPads for?
They are issued to legislators. We are replacing notebook computers with a hybrid computing platform consisting of virtual desktops running Windows 7 OS and iPads. We're running VMware View and using the VMview client on the iPad to access the virtual desktop.
How many are in use (all legislators, pilot groups, etc.) and what percentage of your total users does that represent?
A total of 150 iPads are in use; 132 are for legislators.
Did you purchase them or have the members buy their own?
We purchased them.
Any fallout for going to them? Do the members like them?
Our members wanted them. It is too early to tell if they will like the virtual desktop concept. We chose that over trying to develop iOS apps.
What was the biggest challenge?
It is a complex and complicated architecture overall. Apple iOS is not easy to bring into the enterprise.
Did you obtain training for a programmer to write an iPad app? Or training for other support staff?
No, but one self-taught developer is trying to develop a chamber automation type app. I have every reason to believe he will be successful. Going forward, however, I want to consider contracting app development.
Do you support other tablets or just iPads?
We support only iPads, along with setting up a wide variety of smartphones for access to legislative email.
--Steve Kriegish
 
TEXAS HOUSE
In Texas, many legislators brought in their own iPads during the last session, prompting information systems to take notice. A cross-section of members and staff were surveyed about their use of tablets in the legislative environment, and in response to the information gathered from those discussions, a mobile strategy began to take root. Thereafter, all application development progressed with an eye toward mobility and easy consumption of data, and required no additional staff training. Several web-based applications were reworked to play well in a mobile realm and are accessible from the mobile portal www.txlegis.com.
 
In addition, during the interim, information systems partnered with House and Senate leadership to conduct an iPad pilot project that proved successful; the general consensus was positive from both members and staff. With approval from leadership, the Texas Legislative Council purchased iPads for all legislators and committees and currently is distributing them for the 2013 session.
 
The nuts and bolts of provisioning a large number of iPads for distribution, setting up iPads for each individual, producing training videos and user documentation, and developing new policies specific to iPads in the environment have come with their own challenges. The biggest challenge was helping IT staff become comfortable with the disruptive nature of the technology and the loss of control.
--Janell Hopkins
 
VERMONT
What are you using iPads for?

We are using them in committee to replace paper distribution of both standard documents (bills, calendars, journals) and committee-specific documents (witness handouts, research reports, drafts, etc.). The members also use them for email.
How many are in use (all legislators, pilot groups, etc.) and what percentage of your total users does that represent?
We have recently concluded a two-year pilot program with the members and staff of the House and Senate Government Operations committees and have been asked to equip the members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees this year. This is about 40 units. We also have about two dozen in use by staff.
Did you purchase them or have the members buy their own?
All the iPads listed above were purchased by the legislature. At least two dozen other members have personally owned iPads that they use at the State House.
Any fallout for going to them? Do the members like them?
The House Government Operations committee is very enthusiastic about them. The Senate committee is a bit more mixed. Several members like them a lot, some do not.
What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest surprise to us was just how much user support is required. Despite all the much-lauded ease of use and intuitive interface of the iPad and iPad apps, members required far more support than expected.
Did you obtain training for a programmer to write an iPad app? Or training for other support staff?
We used entirely off-the-shelf software for the iPads. We did all training of members and staff in-house.
Do you support other tablets or just iPads?
At this time, we support only iPads. We are interested in Lenovo's upcoming Windows 8 tablet, but it will be difficult for them to overcome the installed base of iPads here at the State House.
--Duncan Goss
 
VIRGINIA HOUSE
Two years ago, the Virginia House of Delegates started an iPad pilot group consisting of 16 members. The goal was to evaluate whether an iPad could be used to improve members’ daily legislative business, especially in committee meetings and following the daily House calendar. The pilot group was asked to use the iPad and provide feedback about likes and dislikes.
 
Feedback was positive from the pilot group. Members liked the mobility of the iPad, having multiple email accounts and calendars right at their fingertips, the function of ‘tapping’ to launch apps, and easy lightweight travel with the iPad. A few members commented, “It was easier to learn to use an iPad than a laptop.”
 
During the iPad pilot group evaluation, an iPad app was developed of committee agendas and the daily legislative calendar. The House had an existing, Web-based, Chamber Automation Program developed in Lotus Notes. The iPad app was designed to use the same features and similar functions as the existing Chamber Automation Program. The app allows members to see and follow current committee agendas, see the bills in committee and subcommittees, mark personal comments on bills, view bill history, and see voting sheets of acted-on legislation for the daily floor session calendar.

A House programmer on staff took on the challenge of writing the iPad app as described above. Improvements and new releases of the iPad app are made available periodically to our users, as necessary.
 
As with any new technology there are challenges. Some challenges we faced were printing to non-wireless printers, a particular font that did not display correctly in pdf versions of bills, and iPad setup, to name a few. With a little research and in-house changes, those issues were addressed.
 
Due to the positive response from the pilot group, the House has purchased iPads for all 100 House members. The iPads purchased are, as well as wi-fi, cellular data capable. Members are allowed to download apps and use the cellular data connection at their own expense. Members are excited about the new technology.
 
As for other tablets, the House currently supports only iPads.
--Troy Adkins

VIRGINIA SENATE
What are you using iPads for?

We have replaced our traditional paper bill books with iPads for our committee system and chamber system.
How many are in use (all legislators, pilot groups, etc.) and what percentage of your total users does that represent?
Our pilot two years ago involved 15 of 40, one legislative committee.
Last year we gave iPads to all 40 members.
Did you purchase them or have the members buy their own?
The Senate owns the iPads.
Any fallout for going to them? Do the members like them?
So far, so good. We totally eliminated paper bill books and were expecting some backlash, but as of yet everyone is using the new system. One member of 40 uses a laptop by preference, but uses all the electronic bill book applications.
What was the biggest challenge?
Printing has been our biggest challenge. We provide a native iPad AirPrint Printer in our Senate chamber, but that is the only location where members can print right now. We have resisted using a third-party printing app to this point, choosing to use AirPrint as our print technology. AirPrint has several drawbacks on large wireless networks, and we likely will start using the Print Central App this session for added ability to print.
Did you obtain training for a programmer to write an iPad app? Or training for other support staff?
Everything we have done for the iPad has been designed for the Safari Web browser rather than an app. This has allowed us to make changes faster and so far has not limited our functionality. We have written all our Web apps in-house and have mostly been self-taught via trial and error. We had one formal training class to date to get all staff up to par on programming; however, this training was done after release of our Web app.
Do you support other tablets or just iPads?
We support only iPads at this time. Because our system still is Web-based, this allows us to switch to a different platform should the need arise.
 --Jonathan Palmore

WEST VIRGINIA
The West Virginia Legislature uses iPads mainly for chamber and committee automation, to cut down on paper costs, and to provide documents in a digital format in one central location for ease of use. They are also being used for email, Internet access, note taking, and some job-related tasks. Approximately 225 iPads are in use, about 25 of which are the personal property of members or staff. This represents about half our overall users; most iPad users are legislative members.
 
Overall, it seems that the iPads are well-liked. We had some issues with printing and email, but the biggest challenge was teaching people how to use the device. Because most users had no experience with tablets, they expected them to work like a laptop and to be able to do word processing on them. The inability to attach an external USB device was another negative. There also have been some complaints about installing or updating apps, since most tablets were set up by IT staff with the same account and with specific apps. However, users are free to install additional apps, but they must purchase them with their personal account. One iPad app was written by a staff programmer who received no training, but the automation systems being used came from an outside vendor. The House of Delegates received initial training from an Apple representative and then individual training as needed by IT staff. The state Senate and Joint Committee users received training from IT staff. The support staff was self-taught. While iPads are the primary tablet used, some others are being used or tested. Any additional information can be obtained by contacting the WV Legislative Computer Center at 304-347-4820.
--Sheila Harvey
 


Digital Signage Greets Visitors to Oregon’s Capitol

Oregon’s Legislative Information Services team is rolling out interactive digital signage in the state capitol. The system, “Capitol AIDE” (Automated Interactive Digital Entryway), is being used to automatically post committee agendas during session and interim. The displays will replace bulletin boards that had been used to manually post paper agendas. One sign was successfully deployed during a pilot, and another five signs will be added in the coming months.
 
The touch screen displays also will include an interactive directory and way-finding feature to help visitors navigate the building. During the interim when no committees are meeting, visitors can access other content, including oral history video clips, building history videos, legislative process information and Oregon trivia. The Oregon legislature purchased the digital signage platform from Four Winds Interactive, and the user interface was built by Information Services staff.  
--Bill Sweeney



Announcing a New Online Resource for Recruiting Young People into Legislative Service

Baby boomers comprise about one-third of the national workforce, but nearly half of all legislative staff responding to a recent NCSL survey were 50 or older. Replacing the institutional knowledge of those seasoned staffers as they retire will pose a major challenge to legislative staff directors and human resource departments. Attracting young people to work as legislative staff will be increasingly important in the coming years.
 
To address this problem, Nancy Cyr, director of the Nebraska Legislative Research Office, launched an effort during her tenure as NCSL Staff Chair to develop a website with a series of videos that describe the dynamic, rewarding world of legislative service.
 
After three years of work and the collaboration of hundreds of legislative staff around the country, the Legislative Careers website has now been launched. The site is designed to encourage college students, recent graduates and those looking for a career change to consider legislative service. Colleges and universities also will find it useful to promote legislative internship programs.
 
"In addition to demonstrating our love of legislative service, the goals of the website are to highlight the variety of professional opportunities available in state legislatures throughout the country; demonstrate the rewards and benefits of a career in public service; and spark interest and encourage young adults to participate in government and consider legislative service as a career," Cyr explained.
 
The Legislative Careers page features an introductory video that shows the depth and breadth of staff involvement in the legislative process. Visitors can then navigate to the Career Paths tab on the site to view video testimonials from young legislative staffers in 10 areas of specialization that coincide with NCSL's organizations of professional staff. The site also has a page with links to job openings in statehouses throughout the nation.

Staffers featured in the Career Paths videos include:

  • Zach Twilla, California Senate
  • Cory Stewart, Louisiana House
  • Rashada Houston, Florida Legislature Office of Program Policy and Government Accountability
  • Kelly Dudley, Kentucky Legislative Research Commission
  • Matthew Lawrence, Oregon Senate
  • Scott Grosz, Wisconsin Legislative Council
  • Kristin Ford, Librarian, Idaho Legislature
  • Ashley deMauro, Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus
  • Jason Watts, Hawaii Senate
  • Carlos Galvan, Texas Legislative Council
--Mike Sunseri,
Mike Sunseri, photography Director for the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, organized and managed the development of the videos for the legislative careers website.


Broadband in Kentucky

Broadband Internet improvement initiatives in Kentucky, as in many other states, have had their ups and downs during the last 10 years. Various challenges have conspired to impede improvement of the availability and use of broadband around the state. Kentucky has a widely varied economic character and an equally varied geographical profile. Eight percent of Kentucky’s population (33,0000+) is suffering in extreme poverty, which is defined as earning less than $5,400 a year. At the same time, more than half the population lives on less than a quarter of the state’s land area around its biggest cities. Naturally, broadband providers focus on serving areas where they can realize the most return for their investment, making economics and terrain among the most persistent and difficult obstacles to overcome. Such issues often are outside the scope of the limited resources of broadband planners, but some innovative initiatives have been aimed at those very populations.
 
Beyond the economic and geographic factors challenging broadband development, one of the most “fixable” obstacles for broadband planners and policymakers is broadband’s “poor PR.”  If you ask the average Kentucky citizen to engage in a little word association and say the first word or words that come to mind when you mention “broadband” or “high speed Internet,” most would say Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, ESPN3 or the like. While these are popular online entertainment and social networking sites, almost half of Kentucky citizens who have access to broadband services don’t find these or similar sites as compelling reasons to subscribe to broadband services. Likewise, political leaders who have not been educated on the subject and do not understand the value of broadband services are hard-pressed to expend time and ever-shrinking state resources to expand “the Internet.”  In Kentucky, we now know that more than 90 percent of the population has access to broadband services through providers of traditional services such as DSL or cable and through fixed and mobile wireless providers. Unfortunately, only about half the population with access to broadband actually subscribe to it. While a significant portion of the reason is economic, surveys have that shown that a large number of non-adopters may not care about or don’t understand broadband’s value. Kentucky is fortunate that two significant entities are now working to overcome these obstacles.
 
ConnectKentucky (now better known as Connected Nation) have been working in Kentucky since 2003 to improve the broadband landscape. Started as a coalition of broadband providers, business and political leaders, and citizens and funded primarily by federal, state and local grants, ConnectKentucky developed a grass-roots organization around the state and engaged local steering committees to begin developing strategic plans to improve broadband adoption and use. In concert with broadband providers around the Commonwealth, it also developed the state’s first broadband availability map. The grass-roots organizational efforts and mapping placed Kentucky among the leaders in broadband initiatives nationwide and served as a model for other states that are developing strategic plans. In 2008, the model was used as the basis for legislation passed by Congress, the “Broadband Data Improvement Act.”  Two of the most notable projects in Kentucky involved the rural, impoverished populations discussed earlier. Computers 4 Kids, also known as No Child Left Offline (NCLO), began in 2005. The partnership between state agencies and ConnectKentucky works to refurbish state surplus computers and place them in the homes of families on the Free and Reduced Lunch Program in economically distressed Kentucky counties. To date, 3,100 computers have been distributed to families with children. This also has kept those computers from contributing tremendous electronic waste to landfills. Since many families may not qualify for free and reduced lunch, yet still may not be able to afford a computer, the program has expanded to include distribution of new computers to more than 30 community anchor organizations (such as community centers, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and libraries) that provide services to vulnerable populations. 

To expand rural broadband availability, ConnectKentucky, working with the Green River Area Development District (GRADD), helped establish the Connect GRADD program. GRADD leaders worked with local water districts, farmers and others to use existing tall structures as sites for fixed wireless broadband antennas. These antennas, with a three- to five-mile effective functional radius, were placed on 40 to 60 tall structures, providing a mesh network that now serves citizens of seven rural Western Kentucky counties.

ConnectKentucky recently announced completion of the first phase of a similar project in four eastern Kentucky counties. Due to changing political and economic tides, funding for ConnectKentucky to maintain their broadband mapping efforts and some of their grass-roots activities began to languish in Kentucky in 2008.
 
Early in 2010, Kentucky’s Commonwealth Office of Technology (COT) was awarded funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to map broadband availability around the state. Arguably, one significant outgrowth of ARRA funding was development of a network of state broadband “planners.” To an organization such as NALIT, this network of colleagues who face similar challenges has been invaluable. COT used these funds to take the first critical steps to “refresh” the mapping effort first started by ConnectKentucky and to identify the current level of broadband availability throughout the Commonwealth. COT was able to identify and contact approximately 100 broadband providers. To date, about 75 percent have submitted data in compliance with our requests.

In October 2010, the governor’s office created the Commonwealth Office of Broadband Outreach and Development (COBOD) to focus efforts in outreach, awareness and expanded data collection. This marked the first time in Kentucky history that a state agency was devoted to the issue of broadband outreach and policy development. It not only provides the governor with a clearing house for collection and dissemination of broadband information, but also provides a point of contact for citizens to communicate with the administration on these issues.

The initial efforts of the office were focused on developing the working relationships necessary to move forward with a plan for improving broadband adoption. Phase 1 of that plan was to develop and coordinate a statewide community network using local/regional community organizations. COBOD has entered into a partnership with the Local Area Development Districts (ADDs) to recruit and develop a network of local stakeholders and Community Anchor Institutions (CAI). The network will include various local stakeholders and champions, such as local government leaders, Community Action Agencies, SLTP students, health, energy, economic development (Chamber of Commerce), education (K12 plus higher ed), libraries and others who understand the unique needs of their respective communities.  Phase 2 will develop and maintain updated local research about trends in broadband adoption and will develop outreach, education and marketing tools tailored to meet specific needs of people in various geographic areas. COBOD and the ADDs currently are working on this phase and hosting local workshops to develop the plans. In the final phase, COBOD and the ADDs will work with other partners to help implement the plans developed through this effort. The ultimate goal of COBOD is to improve the broadband adoption rate in Kentucky. It hopes to raise the perceived value of broadband among citizens and leaders using education and outreach and to educate people about how broadband can affect economic development. This effort by the Commonwealth, along with the ongoing efforts of entities such as ConnectedNation are promising. Together, it is hoped they will address some of the major obstacles to achieving statewide long-term broadband adoption.

Links of Interest:

Kentucky’s Commonwealth Office of Broadband Outreach and Development (w/links to Kentucky’s broadband map viewer)
http://finance.ky.gov/initiatives/broadband/Pages/default.aspx
 
ConnectedNation
http://www.connectednation.org/
 
The US Broadband Plan
http://www.broadband.gov/

The US Broadband Map (and Data Sets)
http://broadbandmap.gov/
--Steve Landers


What’s the Motto with You?


At our last PDS in Madison we were asked ‘What is Wisconsin’s state motto?”  It made me wonder about other state mottos. I actually knew the answer for my state, Kentucky. Do you know yours?  Do you know any others?  Here is a quiz to see how many you know. 



1. Qui transtulit sustinet (He who transplanted still sustains)
2. Liberty and independence
3. L'√Čtoile du Nord (The North Star)
4. Wisdom, justice, and moderation
5. Union, justice, and confidence
6. North to the Future
7. State sovereignty, national union
8 Nil sine Numine (Nothing without Providence)
9. Salus populi suprema lex esto (The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law)
10. Ditat Deus (God enriches)
11. Eureka (I have found it)
12. Ad astra per aspera (To the stars through difficulties)
13. Audemus jura nostra defendere (We dare defend our rights)
14. In God we trust (1868)
15. Fatti maschii, parole femine (Manly deeds, womanly words)
16. Esto perpetua (It is forever)
17. Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem
(By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty)
18. Regnat populus (The people rule)
19. Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice
(If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look around you)
20. Virtute et armis (By valor and arms)
21. Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono
(The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness)
22. The Crossroads of America
23. United we stand, divided we fall
24. Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain
25. Dirigo (I lead)
26. Liberty and union, now and forever: one and inseparable
27. Labor omnia vincit (Labor conquers all things)
28. Excelsior (Ever upward)
29. Equal rights (1955)
30. Industry
31. Crescit eundo (It grows as it goes)
32. Animis opibusque parati (Prepared in mind and resources) and Dum spiro spero
(While I breathe, I hope)
33. Agriculture and Commerce (1987)
34. Friendship
35. Esse quam videri (To be rather than to seem)
36. Al-Ki (Indian word meaning “by and by”)
37. Vermont, Freedom and Unity
38. Forward
39. Live free or die
40. Liberty and prosperity
41. Alis volat Propriis (She flies with her own wings) (1987)
42. Montani semper liberi (Mountaineers are always free)
43. Sic semper tyrannis (Thus always to tyrants)
44. Under God the people rule
45. With God all things are possible
46. Equality before the law
47. Hope
48. All for Our Country
49. Virtue, liberty, and independence
50. Oro y plata (Gold and silver)

Answers:
1.= Conn., 2.= Del., 3.= Minn., 4.= Ga., 5.= La., 6.= Alaska, 7.= Ill., 8= Colo., 9.= Mo., 10.= Ariz., 11.= Calif., 12.= Kan., 13.= Ala., 14.= Fla., 15.= Md., 16.= Idaho, 17.= Mass., 18.= Ark., 19.= Mich., 20.= Miss., 21.= Hawaii, 22.= Ind., 23.= Ky., 24.= Iowa, 25.= Maine, 26.= N.D., 27.= Okla., 28.= N.Y., 29.= Wyo., 30.= Utah, 31.= N.M., 32.= S.C., 33.= Tenn., 34.= Texas, 35.= N.C., 36.= Wash., 37.= Vt., 38.= Wis., 39.= N.H., 40.= N.J., 41.= Ore., 42.= W.V., 43.= Va., 44.= S.D., 45.= Ohio, 46.= Neb., 47.= R.I., 48.= Nev., 49.= Pa., 50.= Mont.

2012-13 NALIT Executive Committee


OFFICERS
C
hair
Peter Capriglione
Applications Manager
North Carolina General
Assembly
Room 400
300 N. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC 27603-5925

Vice Chair
Troy Adkins
Network Administrator
Virginia House of Delegates
General Assembly Building
8th Floor
910 Capitol St.
Richmond, VA 23219
 
Secretary
Joel Redding
Deputy Chief Information
Officer
Kentucky General Assembly
Room 26 Annex
702 Capitol Ave.
Frankfort, KY 40601

Past Chair
Rich Beckwith
Director of Information
Services
Missouri General Assembly
House of Representatives
201 W. Capitol Ave.
Jefferson City, MO 65101

DIRECTORS
Mendora Servin
Information Technology Specialist
Legislative Counsel Bureau
1100 J St., Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95814
Term of Office: August 2012-August 2014
 
Kurt McDowell
Director
Legislative Information Systems
Ohio General Assembly
77 S. High St., 22nd Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Term of Office: August 2012-August 2014
 
Terri Clark
Director of Infrastructure Services
Legislative Computer Services
Kansas Legislature
Suite 063-W
300 SW 10th Ave/
Topeka, KS 66612-1504
Term of Office: August 2012-August 2014
 
Eric Dugger
Network Services Manager
Nevada Legislature
Legislative Counsel Bureau
401 S Carson St.
Carson City, NV 89701-4747
Term of Office: August 2011-August 2013
 
Jonathan Palmore
Senior Assistant Clerk of Technology
Senate
Virginia General Assembly
P.O. Box 396
Richmond, VA 23218
Term of Office: August 2011-August 2013
 
Gary Schaefer
Information Systems Coordinator
Louisiana Legislature
Senate
P.O. Box 94183
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9183
Term of Office: August 2011-August 2013
 
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