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Finding funding for high-speedInternet in state budgets can be a daunting task, but the rewards of potentialgreater economic growth, more accessible health care, energy savings andincreased educational benefits make the investment more than worth it.

Core Policies to Leverage Technology

EconomicDevelopment

Wide-spread adoptionof affordable high-speed Internet can be a key tool to rejuvenate laggingeconomies and sustain state commerce. It is estimated that widespread adoption of high-speed Internet will add$134billion to the U.S. economy annually and create 1.2 million new jobs per year. Further, high-speed Internet can be keyto drawing new businesses to an area, no matter how remote or small. As evidence of the impact of high-speedInternet on individual communities, a recentstudy foundthat for every 1% point increase in state high-speed Internet penetration,employment is projected to increase by 0.2% to 0.3%. Further, the availability of high-speed Internet incommunities added over a 0.5% increasein the growth of business establishments.

The following are a few programsworking to leverage this economic benefit from high-speed Internet:

  • One of the most successful programs in using technology to spur economic development has been the e-NC Authority. By investing in long-term projects related to high-speed Internet build-out and adoption, the program aims to create communities that can sustain high-value jobs and a greater quality of life through the creation of wealth on a local level. This includes grants for seven e-NC Business and Technology Telecenters, which serve as small business resource centers, providing business start-up counseling, low-cost office space and technological resources, in economically-distressed communities.
  • Cedar Falls, Iowa saw an economic revitalization after building a municipal high-speed Internet network. A report by the Telecommunications Coordinator Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities stated, “[O]ne can not disregard the direct link between the “Dawn of a New Age” and the City’s ability to meet the increasing demand for access and dissemination of information... [o]ne of the best first steps toward acquiring economic well-being is to ensure that you have quality infrastructure including a first class high-speed Internet network.”
  • In Bristol Virginia, two technology companies, CGI-AMS Inc. and Northrop Grumman Corp., built data centers in nearby Russell County that will create 1,500 good-paying jobs. They were attracted in part by the availability of OptiNet, an 800-mile fiber-optic network operated by Bristol Virginia Utilities (BVU).
  • Lake County— a small county in central Florida — began generally offering private businesses and municipal institutions access to one of Florida’s most extensive, municipally-owned high-speed Internet networks, with fiber optic connections to hospitals, doctor offices, private businesses, and 44 schools. Since the opening of their municipal network, Lake County has experienced approximately 100% greater growth in economic activity—relative to comparable Florida counties.

Resources:
MIT/Carnegienational study "strongly" suggests connection between broadband andjob growth
Communications Workers of America - SpeedMatters, Affordable High Speed Internet for All
Connected Nation - TheEconomic Impact of Stimulating High-speed Internet Nationally
S.E. Gillett, W.H. Lehr, C.A. Osorio - Measuring High-speedInternet’s Economic Impact
R.W. Crandall and C.L. Jackson - The$500 Billion Opportunity: ThePotential Economic Benefit of Widespread Diffusion of High-speed Internet Access
Educause White Paper - ABlueprint for Big Broadband
Black & Veatch - A Study of theEconomic and Community Benefits of Cedar Falls, Iowa’s MunicipalTelecommunications Network
VirginiaBusiness - BristolVirginia Utilities fiber network is revitalizing SW VirginiaBristol Virgini
Christian ScienceMonitor - High-Tech BringsRural Towns Back to Life
The Baller Herbst Law Group - Capturing thePromise of Broadband for North Carolina and America

Telehealth

States can help make health care moreaccessible and affordable by utilizing modern day technology. By merging technology and health care,state policymakers can create new opportunities for medical professionals andpatients to interact in more efficient ways. The use of technology in healthcare -- often called telehealth -- utilizes high-speed Internet applications toremotely monitor patients, facilitate collaboration between medicalprofessionals, exchange medical data and images, and instantaneously provideefficient emergency service to remote areas. The potential benefits of telehealthinclude saving lives, increasingaccess to and quality of medical services, providing better treatment for chronicillness, reducingmedical costs and reducing patient travel.

Although telehealth has been around for years,its promises yet to be truly realized. The obstacles to achieving the full potential of telehealthinclude the lack of access to and adoption of high-speed Internet technology, the way in whichAmericans pay for health care, and how physicians are regulated by thegovernment. Key policies that address these barriers to the adoption oftelehealth include:

  • Build-out of high-speed Internet technology: Telehealth provides many benefits, such as transmitting mages, remotely monitoring patients at home, and utilizing advanced teleconferencing technology for collaboration, trainings, and patient visits. In order to capitalize on the benefits of telehealth, however, states need to support the deployment and use of sophisticated and affordable high-speed Internet services, especially in unserved and underserved regions, such as low-income and rural areas. Last year, the FCC, recognizing the benefits of telehealth programs, allocated $417 million for the construction of 69 statewide and regional high-speed Internet telehealth networks. State legislatures need to invest in high-speed Internet deployment and take advantage of federal grants so that their residents can start to use advanced technological applications such as telehealth.
  • Reforming medical licensing rules: Licensing health care professionals is aimed at protecting patients from poor medical care, but also acts as a barrier to telehealth programs. State legislatures have oversight over medical boards and dictate medical practice policies therefore are in a position to help ensure licensure regulations and legislative policy promote a safe and responsible way for health care to be practiced across state lines.
  • Changing medical reimbursement policies: The absence of uniform reimbursement policies is another serious obstacle to the integration of telehealth into health care practices. For telehealth technology to flourish, states should require Medicaid to take a lead in reimbursing for telehealth services as a means of encouraging private insurers to develop standards for reimbursing providers for telehealth services.


Source: the.honoluluadvertiser.com

Resources:
Progressive States Network - Telehealth:Merging of Technology and Medicine Leads to Improved Healthcare
Bio-Medicine - LatestStudies Show Consumer-Directed Solutions Like Consult A Doctor Lower CostsWhile Providing Greater Access to Affordable, Quality Health Care
Center for Information Technology Leadership -TheValue of Provider To Provider Telehealth Technologies
Communication Workers of America - TelemedicineHelps Save Time and Lives in Smaller Hospitals
Internet Innovation Alliance, AdvancingHealthcare Through High-speed Internet-Opening Up a World of Possibilities

Energy Savings

High-speed Internet can be a crucial tool in cuttingAmericans’ energy costs through the promotion of telecommuting and more efficientenergy use. For example, interactive monitoring of homes and offices can help to reducegreenhouse gas emissions and our carbon footprint while offering large economicpayoffs. The implementation of smart grids would help manage the intermittency of renewable, environmentally friendly, energy sources.

Optimizing themanagement of energy supply and demand means a reduction in the likelihood ofcrippling regional blackouts or the need for keeping costly reserve powerplants online. Itis predicted thatwide adoption and use high-speed Internet applications can achieve what manyestimate is a net reduction of one billion tons of greenhouse gas over tenyears, which, if converted into energy saved, would constitute 11% of annualU.S. oil imports.

Statesshould promote telecommuting: High-speed Internet access is essential for enabling moreAmericans to occasionally work from home, commonly referred to astelecommuting. It is estimated that telecommuting may create billions of dollars in savings annually across the economy, by allowing businesses to save on physical space and relatedexpenses and employees to spend less time commuting (better for environment andproductivity). For example:

  • Reduction in fuel use: If everyone who could, took full advantage of telecommuting, the reduction in miles driven would save $3.9 billion a year in fuel and the time savings would be equal to 470,000 jobs -- reducing our dependence on foreign oil, traffic congestion, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions at the same time. Even incremental changes could have a huge impact. For every 10% increase in worker telecommuting, fuel use is projected to drop by 1.2 million gallons per week.
  • Increase in worker productivity: Telecommuting has also been found to increase worker productivity by 20%-25%. When Cisco paid to have high-speed Internet installed in employees’ homes, the company traded wasted commute time for an extra hour of work each day. Other companies, such as AT&T and Merrill Lynch each saved $10,000 a year per employee through lower absenteeism alone.

A number of states are moving policies that recognize thebenefits of telecommuting:

  • In Virginia, lawmakers enacted legislation, which required that the head of each state agency must establish a telecommuting and alternative work policy under which eligible employees of such agency may telecommute.
  • New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson signed an executive order creating the State of New Mexico Telework and Alternative Work Schedule Program. The executive order also called for technology improvements to increase productivity and support teleworking in State government.
  • Connecticut, Vermont, and New York considered legislation, which if passed, would have required states to study, develop or implement guidelines authorizing telecommuting and work-at-home programs for state employees or study the benefits and other impacts of teleworking.

States considering legislating telecommutingand alternative work programs should ensure that such policiesare structured to protect workers against violations of overtime or other laborlaws.

Resources:
AeA - Teleworkin the Information Age: Building aMore Flexible Workforce and a Cleaner Environment
Joseph P. Fuhr Jr.& Stephen B. Pociask - High-speedInternet Services-Economic & Environmental Benefits
Telework Coalition - TeleworkBenchmarking Study: Best Practices for Large-Scale Implementation in Publicand Private Sector Organizations
ConsumerElectronics Association - TheEnergy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impact of Telecommuting and E-Commerce

Reduceenergy usage with smart technology: Interactive control of homeappliances and their interaction with the overall power grid, can producesignificant energy savings. Electricity that flows in the home and workplace are currentlydevice-focused, so more precise control and “time shifting” can significantlylower demands on the power grid. Consumers could save nearly $23billion a year if they shifted just 7 percent of their usage during peakperiods to less costly times, according to research byCarnegie Mellon University.

With new technology, appliances can be turned off duringperiods of high electrical demand and give customers real-timeinformation onconstantly changing electric rates. The goal is to use advanced,information-based technologies to reduce consumers utility bills,increasepower grid efficiency, reliability, and flexibility, and reduce therate atwhich additional electric utility infrastructure needs to be built.States are promoting use of smart technologies and innovativeutility pricing mechanisms are currently being usedby several utilities in small applications, mainly for testingpurposes.

  • Under Illinois Public Act 094-0977, each electric utility must allow residential retail customers in the electric utility’s service area to elect real-time pricing, based on a successful pilot program in Chicago.
  • Other states, such as Vermont, while not requiring smart metering, are analyzing the benefits of such a program.
  • The Maryland state legislature enacted HB 374 which dictates that the Public Service Commission shall evaluate whether “smart meters” and digital automation of the entire power supply system, commonly known as “smart grid,” would be cost—effective in reducing consumption and peak demand of electricity in Maryland.
  • The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has teamed with utilities in the states[LM23] of Washington and Oregon to test new energy technologies designed to improve efficiency and reliability, while at the same time, increasing consumer choice and control. In the Olympic Peninsula, 200 homes are receiving real-time price signals over the Internet and have demand response thermostats and hot water heaters that can be programmed to respond automatically. The goal is to relieve congestion on the transmission and distribution grid during peak periods.
  • The Hawaiian Electric Co., has been testing the technology since 2006, and expanded its pilot project in 2007 to approximately 6,000 more homes.

 


Source:http://www.energy.gov.on.ca/images/ami_diagram_june06.

Create a Smart Grid: State leaders areincreasingly focused on creating a smart energy grid, which would integrateadvanced functions into state’s electric grids in the hope of reducing carbonemissions. These advancements will be achieved by modernizing the electric grid with information-age technologies,such as microprocessors, communications, advanced computing, and informationtechnologies. Such changes willallow us to reply more heavily on environmentally friendly energy sources, such as solar and wind power, help the system “self-heal” during power disturbances or physical attack,accommodate alternative storage options, and enable new servicesand markets.

Resources:
2002Department of Energy report
Carnegie Mellon ElectricityIndustry Center - Impacts ofResponsive Load in PJM: Load Shifting and Real Time Pricing
PacificNorthwest GridWise Demonstration Projects
UtilitiesSee 'Municipal Broadband Wireless Smart Grids' as Best Way to Combat RisingFuel Costs
Smart Grid Provisions inH.R. 6, 110th Congress

Distance Learning

States should promote distance learning programs toincrease educational opportunities for residents. With ubiquitous high-speed Internetaccess, students from any geographic location and income level can takeadvantage of otherwise unattainable educational and job trainingopportunities. One strong modelwas in Idaho where HB 543was enacted in part to promote a statewide coordinated andfunded high-bandwidth education network. Legislators hope, among other things, that the "Idaho EducationNetwork" (IEN) can be a coordinated, statewide telecommunicationsdistribution system for distance learning in each public school, includingtwo-way interactive video, data, internet access and other telecommunicationsservices . Further, the Idaho DigitalLearning Academy (IDLA), a state sponsored, accredited, on-line virtualschool created through the Idaho state legislature, is designed to increaseeducational opportunities and choices to all Idaho students regardless oflearning ability, income, or geographic location. IDLA provides a high qualitypublic school education, aligned with state achievement standards, utilizingthe Internet and innovative educational methods of delivery.

Resources:
United States General AccountingOffice, Distance Education - Growth in DistanceEducation Programs and Implications for Federal Education Policy
Idaho DigitalLearning Academy