Sunday, November 2, 2008

Communities Without Boundaries Conference

The first Communities Without Boundaries video conference was held on Friday October 31, 2008. The video conference was accessed by over 20 Alberta communities.

Doug Griffiths MLA (Battle River - Wainwright Constituency) opened the conference. A summary of Doug's presentation can be read at:

The conference program was comprised of five panel sessions: Education, Healthcare, Economic Development, Quality-of-Life, and First/Last Mile.

An unedited copy of the conference can be viewed at:
Select: Communities Without Boundaries - Oct 31, 2008
Select: Either 256k or 512k
Fast Forward: To the 28:50 time mark for the start of the conference.

For those that do not have the time to review the entire conference (7hrs 34min) here is a brief summary of each of the panel sessions.

A. Education
This session provided an overview of four educational projects:

1. Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN) ARDN is a partnership between 21 post-secondary institutions across Alberta. Virtual network access will streamline collaboration on shared projects and is expected to increase project collaboration opportunities. Contact: Rick Neidig

2. Bell e-Learning Centre The Bell e-Learning Centre will enable Olds College and the Chinook's Edge School Division to better support educational needs of rural communities. The facility will focus on research and innovation and on developing solutions that enable distributed learning for students in the region. ( Contact: Vickie Derksen

3. VCAlberta VCAlberta is a portal that provides information on Alberta -based video conferencing resources, information and contacts. ( Contact: Dave Hinger (University of Lethbridge)

4. Grande Yellowhead Regional Division Grande Yellowhead Regional Division No. 35 (GYRD) is the public school board that stretches from Jasper National Park, east to Evansburg,and north to Grande Cache. GYRD operates schools in Edson, Hinton, Grande Cache, Jasper as well as rural schools in the area. ( Gord Booth provided a presentation on e-learning development and distribution that is currently being done in the school division. They currently are providing 40 e-learning courses from K1 to 12.

B. Healthcare
This panel session provided an overview of five healthcare projects:

1. Telehealth in Alberta First Nations Dr. Chris Sarin gave a presentation on First Nations Telehealth challenges and activities. He provided an overview of telehealth projects including:
- Siksika First Nation and Calgary Health Region
- Nursing Virtual Clinic for Diabetes
- Forensic Phychiatry (Eden Valley)
Contact: Chris Sarin (

2. Aspen Regional Health Aspen Regional Health is located in the heart of Alberta and is the governing body of healthcare centres, continuing care centres and community health services offices. The Region serves more than 184,000 residents in 118 communities. Aspen's regional boundaries span a large geographic area in excess of 110,000 square kilometres from Jasper to Cold Lake and up north to Peerless Lake. Due to lack of resources Aspen Regional Health must access services from other providers including Capital Health, Children's Services, Child and Adolescent Services, Alberta Mental Health Board, and Education using the Alberta SuperNet.
Contact: Anita Puddicombe

3. Radiology Reporting in Rural Alberta
AltaPACS, ( is located in Calgary Alberta and is a systems integration company specializing in the dynamic healthcare sectors which leverage diagnostic imaging. Their goal is to provide clients with robust and sophisticated technological and clinical solutions, enabling a high performance clinical environment for optimum patient care. Joe Moreau provided a presentation on the impact of new services in rural communities.
Contact: Joe Moreau

4. Netcare: Patient Health Portals Alberta Netcare EHR Portal ( is a tool for physicians, pharmacists and other health service providers in Alberta, It improves patient care by providing up-to-date available information immediately at the point of care. Making basic patient information available to health service providers supports better care decisions and improves patient safety. Alberta Netcare EHR Portal provides access to available information at the point of care.
Contact: Gregor McWalter and Susan Anderson

5. Telestroke Project A real life story was told by Sandra MacLay from Killiam Alberta on how she survived a stroke in part due to the ability of sharing information between health centers. She has started a project called the Telestroke Project. The project raising the awareness of telemedicine and stroke victims. As part of this awareness campaign she is providing to stroke victims a blue hat. Contact: Sandra MacLay Killiam Alberta

C. Rural Economic Activity
This panel provided four rural economic activity sessions:

1. Rural Broadband Video A video was shown that highlighted three rural Alberta companies that use rural broadband. The companies were:
- Prairie House Kitchens (Mary Anne Barnett)
- Kuhn Environmental Ltd. (Roger Didychuk)
- Farmer (Rosana Ramos)
This video will be available at a later date on YouTube.

2. Alberta Livestock and Meat Strategy Dr. Sandra Honour provided a presentation on the Alberta Livestock and Meat Strategy. The strategy outlines eight priority initiatives developed to achieve significant change in the industry. These changes will redirect resources to key priorities, revitalize the livestock industry, enhance the value chain and refocus efforts to achieve a sustainable and competitive livestock industry. Areas in the strategy supported by better access to technology:
- Information Availability
- Communication and Engagement
- Industry Leadership
Additional information on the strategy is available at:$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/com12203
Contact: Dr. Sandra Honour

3. Alberta Agriculture Study Paul Gervais spoke about an Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development project to map broadband applications in rural Alberta. Enabling a Rural Information Society is about how broadband can be used to improve the quality of life in rural communities, provide economic opportunities, and help rural communities develop and maintain competitive advantages in a connected economy. Contact: Paul Gervais

4. Interactive Municipal Websites David Lust (Econolution) provided a presentation on their TownLife Product. Econolution focuses on supporting, strengthening and building relationships within communities using their TownLife product. The TownLife Community Network consists of a series of portals that connect businesses, organizations, and residents in communities. An example is St. Paul Alberta:
Contact: David Lust (

D. Rural Quality-of-Life
This panel provided four rural quality-of-life sessions:

1. ClicSite Project The ClicSite project is a joint venture of the Town of Three Hills, the Hanna Learning Centre, and the Three Hills Library Board. These centres provide the residents in east-central Alberta better access to and expanded value of the Alberta's SuperNet. A number of new programs will be implemented and evaluated during the next three years including a business incubator, web portal and community e-index, videoconferencing, on-line learning using a multi-college model, a P3 partnership providing wireless Internet and other services to small towns and villages, and innovative new models for rural library operations and multi-organizational cooperation. (
Contact: Kevin Edwards (Mayor: Three Hills)

2. Vulcan Functioning Projects Leslie Warren provided an overview of projects that are enabled using rural broadband. Those projects include:
- Vulcan Business Development Society
- Hiring of a Technology Expert to Assist Businesses and Residents
- Youth Programs (Youths mentor the older generation)
- Provide students access to post secondary education (Lethbrige College)
Contact: Leslie Warren

3. Innovating Communities Connecting and Networking (ICAN) The ICAN project is implementing 180 video conference endpoints that will be used for:
- Professional Development
- Knowledge Sharing
- Learning Literacy and Collaboration
- Leadership and Public Speaking
- Global and Cultural Connections
The objective of this project is to provide support to the communities that have barriers to learning.
Contact: Cathy King

4. Alberta's Libraries Libraries are key access points in a rural community. Using broadband to provide services such as:
- Distance Learning
- Foreign Language Education
- Specilized services for the disabled and First Nations
Alberta libraries are working with communities. They have project called RISE in southern Alberta that will connect 89 communities with video conferencing.
Contact: Punch Jackson (

Community Development - the world's at our borders." We live in a world today where Internet is "busting borders" on all fronts - offering rich information and extending our global reach at the speed of light. Innovation and justice are no longer the preserve of the most wealthy or the "best situated." Our young people know it, and if they are to inherit the future, we need to appreciate what their communities need to survive. But many are being left behind - where market forces are inadequate to extend SuperNet to remote areas or link rural businesses.
People and their families are the social fabric that contribute to the social sustainability of our communities. And so we are celebrating the arrival of SuperNet supporting health, education and municipal services for sustaining our population and families. But without business and enterprise, without innovation or connectivity - communities will fail. Youth will leave for more meaningful oopportunities. Enterprise will shrink too - with the carbon industries locating elsewhere.
The Alberta Council of Technologies is supporting the completion of SuperNet in Alberta, enabling rural communities and counties, entrepreneurs and their businesses in remote areas to join the rest of the province. Where railroads and highways were once enough. They are no longer today. Where telegraphs, post offices and telephones were essential for commerce and social intercourse, today we need more. Welcome the Internet. Contact: Perry Kinkaide (

E. First/Last Mile
This panel session provided seven first/last mile sessions:

1. Parkland Broadband Study Parkland County contacted ViTel Consulting Inc. in June of 2008 to conduct a broadband study. The study had two primary objectives:
a. Expansion of access of High Speed Wireless Internet Access to All Parkland County's Residents and Businesses.
b. Improve the Quality of Access in Already Served Areas of Parkland County
The lessons learned from the study are:
1. One Size Does Not Fit All
2. WiFI (802.11) Unlicensed Spectrum will not meet the Future Requirements 3. No Viable Economic Model for Underserved Areas
4. Counties have Little or No Understanding of the Problem.
Contact: Allan Bly (

2. Perspective from AAMDC Stephanie Betts provided an overview of the AAMDC and a brief overview of the AAMDC's Rural Broadband report. The report is expected to be released to the public at the upcoming AAMDC annual meeting. Contact: Stephanie Betts (

3. BCC Hardware Ben Heide provided a presentation on the first/last mile from a business perspective. He stated that the ISPs serving rural Alberta must provide low latency connections and be increase the bandwidth to meet the new demand. The rural businesses need: 1. Faster Access, 2. Secure Access, and 3. Fair Access Contact: Ben Heide

4. TELUS Jeremy Chorney (Director Government Relations) discussed the Dry Copper debate that TELUS is currently having with the Internet Centre. He stated that this conference was not a forum for TELUS and the Internet Centre to debate the issues regarding Dry Copper. TELUS has a commitment to their shareholders to ensure that they are using their access resources to remain profitable. TELUS provided a whitepaper describing the their recommendation to rural access in rural communities. Contact: Jeremy Chorney (

5. Bell Canada Michael Hocken provided a commentary on broadband access. He asked the question: "What problem are we trying to solve? There are two problems: 1. Broadband Connectivity and 2. Broadband Quality. Each of these problems has different solutions and economics. If we are trying to solve the broadband connectivity problem, then the problem is solved by using Satellite services. Satellite is available everywhere in rural Alberta. But satellitee access has a 250ms delay inherent in the path. So if we trying to solve the broadband quality problem, then we may have to use alternative access technologies such as WiFI, WiMAX, Copper or Fibre access. Contact: Michael Hocken

6. The Internet Centre Graham Fletcher provided a presentation on their position and TELUS's position on Dry copper. The Internet Centre has filed a Part VII submission on July 11th, 2008. The filing is available at: The CRTC will make a decision probably before XMAS. The Alberta Rural Broadband Blog will be doing a separate post on this debate in the near future. Contact: Graham Fletcher (

7. Paragon Computer Solutions/Netago Wireless Terry Ducherer provided a brief presentation on the first mile access from a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) perspective. He stated that the key to success in providing rural broadband is partnerships. The further you get from major municipal areas the more critical the partnerships. Types of partnerships could be" 1. Partnerships with Counties and Munipalities, 2. Partnerships with Health Regions, and 3. Partnerships with other ISPs. Contact: Terry Duscherer


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