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Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities named finalist on Autism Help App

Posted on November 01, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Technology

Photo by Tom & Katrien, Flickr

The Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (DDC) will be a finalist at the Minnesota High Tech Association’s Tekne Awards on Thursday for its work on the Autism Help App for Emergencies. Development of the app was done in collaboration with the Autism Society of Minnesota. The DDC is one of three finalists in the Mobile & Communication Technologies category. In September, the DDC’s work on the app was also honored with a Digital Government Achievement Award.

“For people with Autism Spectrum Disorders, effective communication in emergency situations is a very real and very serious issue,” said DDC Executive Director Colleen Wieck. “But standard first responder techniques may not work, given ASD-related communication issues involving verbal direction, physical touch, and flashing lights. This application is the first mobile, digital technology tool addressing the issue.”


“Working for Minnesota Jobs” in Brooklyn Park

Posted on October 26, 2012 at 4:37 PM
Categories: Economy, Greater Minnesota, Jobs, Technology


Gov. Dayton talking to a student following the roundtable discussion.

Governor Mark Dayton continued his commitment to job creation and economic prosperity in Minnesota today, as his “Working for Minnesota Jobs” tour visited Brooklyn Park. The Governor hosted a roundtable discussion with information technology leaders in Minnesota’s retail sector. The Governor was joined by industry leaders and top CIOs from major Minnesota retailers, including Best Buy, Gander Mountain and Supervalu. The roundtable was held at North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park.

The discussion focused on new strategies to connect Minnesota workers with the skills and training they need to keep good-paying IT jobs here in the state. Minnesota retailers discussed the challenge of finding qualified IT workers located within the state. Often, businesses rely on advanced enterprise information technologies, such as Oracle Retail. Without local training programs for specific software, many retail companies must import workers or employ workers from outside of Minnesota.

In response to this shortfall, a group of private companies based in and around Minnesota, including Gander Mountain, Mills Fleet Farm, Maurice's, Orscheln Farm and Home, Scheels Sports, and others, have established the Oracle Retail User Group. This group, representing more than $2 billion a year in revenue, has launched an initiative to improve the skills of the Minnesota workforce in this key area of Minnesota’s economy. The Oracle Retail User Group is forming a public-private partnership with North Hennepin Technical College to establish an Oracle Retail Center of Excellence that will train Minnesota workers and keep good-paying jobs here in our state.


Minnesota Supports Cyber Security Awareness Month

Posted on October 19, 2012 at 10:36 AM
Categories: Public Safety, Technology

Cyber Security Summit      

National cyber security experts and technology business leaders gathered Oct. 9 and 10 at the Minneapolis Convention Center for the second annual Cyber Security Summit.

Earlier this month, Governor Dayton joined governors from across the country when he declared October as Cyber Security Awareness Month to highlight the importance of empowering citizens, businesses, government and schools to improve their cyber security preparedness.

To help kick off the month, the State of Minnesota took part in the 2012 Cyber Security Summit, which brings together leaders from the government, business, and non-profit sectors to collaborate on improving digital security. The event featured speakers from all over the world sharing their insights on cyber topics – from the industry’s enormous growth potential (it’s expected to increase by nearly 80% over the next few years) to the growing pervasiveness of cyber threats (approximately $3 trillion of innovation lost by cyber-attacks each year).


Working for Jobs in Chaska

Posted on October 17, 2012 at 4:00 PM
Categories: Jobs, Economy, Technology

Governor Dayton observes how a heart catheter is inserted into a chamber of the heart

Governor Dayton observes how a heart catheter is inserted into a chamber of the heart. 

Today, Governor Dayton continued “Working for Minnesota Jobs,” hosting a roundtable discussion with medical technology innovators from across Minnesota. The event took place at Lake Region Medical – a medical device manufacturer headquartered in Chaska. 

Governor Dayton observed a Menthis Cath Lab simulator demonstration, which utilizes real case studies to help Lake Region Medical develop and improve product technology and performance to meet patient and physician needs. Afterwards, sixteen business and research leaders in the emerging medical device field joined Governor Dayton for a medical technology roundtable discussion.

There are currently 585 medical device companies in Minnesota. There are roughly 29,351 Minnesota workers in this industry with 16,061 employed in the manufacturing of medical devices totaling $1.21 billion in annual wages. 


Minnesota Makes the Grade in E-Services

Posted on October 04, 2012 at 4:57 PM
Categories: Technology

Minnesota is now a national leader in using technology to better help its citizens, boost operational efficiencies, and promote cooperation between state and local government agencies.

This finding is the result of the Digital States Survey, a biannual review of technology use in state governments by the Center for Digital Government.  

Minnesota’s grade for “electronic service delivery” was bumped to A-, from its 2010 grade of B+, and now sits behind only Michigan and Utah. Minnesota also joins a short list of states that are leaders in using technology to increase service delivery and obtain policy goals.

The focus of the survey was to discover how states are using technology to cooperate with citizens and make the goals of the government more apparent.
“When we talk about making government work better for the people of Minnesota, we mean it,” said Governor Mark Dayton.  “This is another success in our continuing effort to build a better government for a better Minnesota.  I congratulate our Chief Information Officer, Carolyn Parnell, and her team for this outstanding achievement.”

Last year, Minnesota underwent a merger across the executive branch that joined all technology function into a single IT agency, MN.IT Services.  MN.IT now serves as the core IT service provider for all state agencies.

“We have found that we are stacking up well against similar efforts underway throughout the private sector,” said Parnell.

Minnesota’s submissions to the survey emphasized examples of tech innovation such as mobile apps like “Lake Finder” and “Fall Colors,” as well as the Pollution Control Agency’s online “What’s in my neighborhood” tool.

The complete report card of state grades can be seen at 


MN Department of Education Launches New College Prep Website

Posted on October 04, 2012 at 3:58 PM
Categories: Education, Technology

MN DOE's new website

The Department of Education's new website provides college prep tools for students, teachers and parents.

The Minnesota Department of Education launched its new website “Ready, Set, Go” today to help students, parents and teachers bridge the gap between high school and college.

“Today’s students will need some form of higher education to succeed in the workforce,” Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said. “This website will be an important tool for ensuring our students take advantage of the great post-secondary options available to them while also preparing them for the next step after high school.”

The department hopes to use the site to encourage students take advantage of dual credit courses, college level courses offered to high school students. The site provides parents with up to date information on Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and other dual credit classes, while giving students tools for academic planning. It also provides information on preparing for the sometimes overwhelming process of applying to college, from choosing schools to applying for financial aid.

The site was made possible by a grant from the US Department of Education.


Minnesota Department of Education leading the way in the use of data to improve service

Posted on September 05, 2012 at 2:45 PM
Categories: Technology

MDE Dashboard

A screenshot of the Minnesota Department of Education IT dashboard

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is being recognized by an industry-leading tech magazine for obtaining valuable insights from their data using business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools. The MDE is among 10 organizations nationwide that are spotlighted in Computerworld's first-ever Best of BI Editor's Choice Awards. 
The IT department at MDE is being lauded for its consolidation of data into user-friendly reports that end users -- administrators, teachers, parents and the public -- can easily access to find the data they need.

According to a story in Computerworld today  “…whatever the goal, the 10 organizations spotlighted in Computerworld's first-ever Best of BI Editor's Choice Awards have learned how to get the valuable insights they need from their data using business intelligence and analytics tools.”


What’s new at the Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair?

Posted on August 24, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Environment, Technology

Eco photo building Tiny House.jpg

Getting ready for the seventh year at the Minnesota State Fair, the Eco Experience is better than ever! Every area of the exhibit has added new components to get Minnesotans to take action in their everyday lives.

Energy Solutions Home: This brand new component of the Eco Experience showcases real solutions for your home. Saving energy will not only save you money but makes a difference in the air we breathe and the water quality in our communities. Put together by the Minnesota Department of Commerce and partners from around the state.

The Energy Solutions Home includes these features:

  • Home performance. How much energy does your home use and what is the environmental impact of a typical Minnesota home? Check out this interactive display. See equipment like blower doors, infared cameras, and other advanced energy audit equipment.

  • Home lighting. Do you become overwhelmed when you’re shopping the lighting aisle? Learn how to choose exactly what you need for many types of rooms.

  • Home envelope. Have you experienced ice dams? Learn how to seal and insulate your home to prevent them in this interactive display showing all types of insulating and sealing issue.

  • Saving water. See the latest info on low-flow fixtures, faucets, showerheads and plumbing fixtures. Saving water saves you money

  • Green materials. Check out the latest finishes, cabinets, high-efficiency appliances and Minnesota-made products.

  • Renewables. Have you considered solar or wind power for your home? See the latest products and meet professionals who can answer questions on the best options and performance of renewables for your home.

  • Landscaping. Learn how to implement things like rain barrels, pollinator gardens, drip irrigation, and permeable pavers. Check out our beautiful but eco-friendly mini gardens.

  • Paying for it. Learn how to pay for your home improvements through affordable financing and loan programs.


Minnesota DHS Makes Accountability a Priority

Posted on August 13, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Health, Reform, Technology


The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is built upon the idea of helping Minnesotans, and thanks to their online public dashboard tool, it’s become even easier for Minnesotans to help themselves to information on the progress of DHS.

The DHS Dashboard allows taxpayers to know what they’re getting from the programs they pay for, and was inspired by Governor Mark Dayton’s “Better Government for a Better Minnesota” reform effort. The dashboard debuted one year ago, and has now been updated to include the most recent data available for the majority of its 15 measures of progress, as well as introducing additional measurements. As DHS advances in its commitment to accountability, transparency, and continual performance improvement, more measures will continue to be added.


Minnesota Named Top State for E-prescribing

Posted on August 02, 2012 at 3:12 PM
Categories: Health, Technology

Minnesota leads the country in e-prescribing, making it one of the most safe and efficient places to get your medication. E-prescribing allows a prescriber to electronically send error-free prescriptions directly to a pharmacy from the point-of-care, which decreases the risks associated with the traditional method of prescribing; research has shown that e-prescribing reduces medication error rates by almost sevenfold in community-based office practices, including elimination of errors due to illegible handwriting. 

Minnesota's success is due to its collaborative approach, which is led by the Minnesota e-Health Initiative, a public-private collaborative established in 2004 that is guided by a 25-member advisory committee appointed by the commissioner of health to provide advice and feedback on policy making related to health information technology (HIT) in Minnesota.

The rankings are put out by Surescripts, the nation’s largest health information network. For 2011 and are determined by an analysis of data that measures the electronic prescribing use by physicians, pharmacies and payers in each state. Minnesota came in first place for e-prescribing in Surescripts’ 7th annual Safe-Rx Awards. See Surescripts profile of Minnesota here.


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