Authored by William Bomash, Rae Montgomery, Robert
Minnesota Extension Service, University of Minnesota 9/30/96
|Section 1||Section 2||Section 3|
The purpose of the Access Minnesota project was to implement a telecommunications infrastructure that provided local access to the resources of the National Information Infrastructure for Minnesota citizens, helped communities evaluate the information resources available through the Internet, and stimulated community discussion about telecommunications infrastructure issues.
Access Minnesota clearly met its main goal of giving community members the opportunity to evaluate and learn about the new information and communication technologies. The evaluation results indicate that the project reached many first time users, making a difference in their lives, permitting them to gain an understanding of the possibilities provided by the technology as well as through the specific information that they were able to retrieve. Beyond the individual level, 60 communities across the state benefited from the educational sessions, public meetings, open houses and conferences that were held. These events helped bring diverse groups together to address how the new information and communication technologies could be used to improve the quality of life within individual communities.
The Access Minnesota project has:
Introduction and Background
When the Access Minnesota project was initially proposed two and a half years ago, the major motivation for project organizers was the concern that the massive social and economic transition to an information based economy was bypassing certain groups in our society. Specifically, rural and central city residents, lower income groups, and those with less formal education were not getting the same access to resources that were available through the National Information Infrastructure. At the Minnesota Extension Service, there was a recognition that both an underdeveloped infrastructure as well as a lack of exposure to the technology applications were critical concerns. These were the issues that Access Minnesota sought to address.
Through the Access Minnesota project partnership with Internet for Minnesota Schools (InforMNs), eight public K-12 schools would move from dial-up modem technology to high speed, networked access to the Internet.
Access to the National Information Infrastructure would be facilitated through distribution of user-friendly tools, such as the Internet Gopher and Netscape software.
Community access centers would promote awareness and encourage the use of the National Information Infrastructure, provide assistance to individual users, train community groups, facilitate community discussions and encourage community infrastructure planning.
Existing databases and a broad range of new content from Minnesota's government, University of Minnesota, education and nonprofit information providers would be furnished to the public. Development of an Internet accessible information and referral database of health and human service information would be initiated through the project partnership with FirstCallNet.
|Project planning with collaborators||Months 1-2|
|Contract for Leased Data Services||Months 2-3|
|Site selection||Months 2-8|
|Construct Access Minnesota Web Site||Month 5|
|Order/Procure Public Access Terminal Equipment||Months 5-12|
|Leased Data Service Installation||Months 6-18|
|Public Access Terminal Equipment Installation||Months 6-18|
|Publicize Availability of Public Access Systems||Months 6-20|
|Training/Education Courses for New User||Months 6-20|
|User Evaluation||Months 8-20|
|Summative Evaluation||Month 21|
|Begin Local Funding of Public Access Sites||Month 21|
A typical Access Minnesota training included an office visit by one or two members of the Access Minnesota team. The entire office staff as well as invited guests were encouraged to be involved in the training. After a group introduction to the Internet, each staff person received 30-45 minutes of one-on-one training. Staff learned how to integrate text, pictures and other useful Internet information into Microsoft Office and other applications running on their workstations.
Most sites have held training sessions for the public. In Douglas County, for example, three training sessions were scheduled and each was filled to the capacity of 30 people. In the days that followed, sign-up sheets for the Access Minnesota terminal were booked solidly.
Quality training materials were developed including
an 'Access Minnesota Resource Guide' containing tips on building
community coalitions and assessing community telecommunications
needs, a description of the Internet, samples of information available
via the Internet, a list of Internet providers in Minnesota, a
glossary of terms, a bibliography of additional resources and
presentation materials. Access Minnesota received a gold award
from the Agricultural Communicators in Education for these training
Having a community development specialist that traveled
to the sites and helped answer the initial 'what are we getting
into?' and 'who are key community partners?' questions was invaluable
for the Access Minnesota project. One of the products produced
was a checklist to help inventory community information assets,
included in Appendix A.
|$ 617||to install a 56k frame relay circuit at the site.||Range: $51 to $967|
|$ 183||to install a router or FRAD at the site.||Range: $100 to $200|
|$ 164||for U.S.West Premium wiring at the site.||Range: $120 to $175|
|$ 49||for local wiring at the site.||Range: $0 to $473|
|$ 992||Average TOTAL per site|
In addition to the installation costs, a $2000 public access computer was placed at each site. The computers were Zeos 486's or Pentium's with audio cards and speakers; some with CD-ROMs. A HP Deskjet 500 or 600 series printer was included in the $2000.
Some of the Access Minnesota sites were disappointed in the length of time it took to get their high-speed access installed. On the average, it took 13 weeks from the time the telecommunications provider (MNet) ordered the circuit and installed the router. Public access computers were installed within 2 weeks of the router installations.
The average on-going monthly cost of a 56k frame relay Access Minnesota site was $527 for service from MNet. Included in the monthly costs are:
|$ 177||for 56k frame relay service (leased by MNet from U.S.West) Range: $86 to $467|
|$ 190||lease of router or FRAD|
|$ 40||frame relay egress|
|$ 120||community router service|
|$ 527 Average||TOTAL per site per month Range: $436 to $817|