Building on our reputation and relationships with our state legislators, TOT sent the following letter to members of the Ohio House of Representatives, who are currently debating a bill that would allow for the growth and development of “telehealth” services here in Ohio. As tech advocates, we know that advances in technology will continue to change the way that Ohioans search for and receive needed healthcare. Therefore, our lawmakers must create the policy environment necessary for those advances to take place, so that Ohio can continue to be a leader in health and medical services.
GALLIPOLIS — Gallia County Department Jobs and Family Services (DJFS) was notified in 2012 that more than 100 local jobs were in jeopardy when InfoCision planned to close its Gallipolis office, but that more than 80 of those jobs could be transformed to teleworking positions if reliable high-speed, Internet access was available.
Connect Ohio’s research reveals that only 42 percent of Gallia County residents subscribe to high-speed home broadband service, well below the state average of 71 percent, and 19 percent of Gallia County residents use a dial-up connection. With more than 60 jobs still at risk due to lack of sufficient Internet service, JB Nets continues to quickly expand its broadband Internet access to reach the other displaced employees.
“As a small community we have learned to work together to make things happen, and I commend JB Nets for making the extension of their broadband service to these displaced workers a priority,” said Dana Glassburn director at Gallia County DJFS. “This situation reaffirms the need to continue to further expand broadband infrastructure into underserved areas in Ohio, and how that expansion will greatly impact local economic development and job creation.”
Since 2009, Connect Ohio was apprised of the opportunity to save jobs through additional access to broadband technology and an action committee was formed that included Gallia County JFS, JB Nets, State Representative Ryan Smith, Gallia County Economic Development, and Connect Ohio.
“This is a great example of how our work engaging community champions with a common belief — that increased broadband access and adoption fuels jobs and economic development, was able to make an immediate impact,” said Stu Johnson, executive director of Connect Ohio. “It’s fascinating to think of all the individuals and organizations over the four-year span that played a part in helping more than 80 adults continue getting a paycheck, and Connect Ohio is proud to be a part of facilitating that.”
Connect Ohio’s most recent research paper reveals that 783,000 Ohioans telework for at least part of their week — this equates to nearly 17 percent of the state’s labor force — saving a combined $430 million in vehicle operating cost and nearly two billion pounds of carbon dioxide emission by not commuting. About 1.3 million more would be interested in teleworking if their employer allowed it.
“We have two additional towers constructed now, which will be able to provide service to additional employees,” said Jake Kline, president of JB Nets. “The first of the two was completed in late March, and the second tower will allow us to start accepting customers as soon as next week.”
JB Nets has the availability to service, or was already serving, a few dozen of these Gallia County employees, but the wireless connection did not meet the company’s telework requirements of being a ground wire connection. Since the speeds that JB Nets provides exceeded the telework connection requirement, the action committee requested the company revisit its telework requirements and conduct test of JB Nets’ service, in which the company compiled and additional jobs were secured.
“The company’s announcement to close the Gallipolis facility was a call to action for the community,” said Smith. “Faced with the potential job loss, whether permanent or relocated to West Virginia, we were able to collaborate resources and allow these workers to continue employment in their community and to maintain a flexible work-life balance.”
BY LAURA A. BISCHOFF - COLUMBUS BUREAU
Ohio lawmakers are considering legislation that would make stealing a cell phone, computer, laptop or tablet a felony offense.
Many Ohioans carry laptops, tablets or smart phones that contain banking information, health data, extensive contact lists and other sensitive data that if stolen could wreak havoc in short order.
This legislation comes on the heels of a law change in 2011 that changed the threshold for felony theft from $500 to $1,000 so stealing this sort of hardware is now generally a misdemeanor.
Advocates for the bill say making it a felony would heighten police attention to the crimes and impose stiffer penalties.
“According to law enforcement, it is increasing — I wouldn’t say exponentially but it’s definitely a bad trend because these are all over the place. They are selling these, shipping them off to other countries for salvage values of $100, $150,” said state Sen. Jim Hughes, R-Columbus, who is sponsoring Senate Bill 63. “It’s just one of the new crimes that is overtaking everything.”
State Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, speaks from experience. Her iPad and personal computer were stolen from her home on Feb. 25 during a burglary. She said her son had installed applications to allow him to work remotely on the devices. He was able to trace the location of the computer to an apartment in Cincinnati and send a message to the iPad announcing it had been stolen, she said.
Police recovered the computer but the iPad is still missing, she said.
“No arrests have been made and I suspect it might be because this is considered just a misdemeanor as far as they’re concerned,” Lehner said.
Computers and tablets often contain business-related data that is far more valuable than the hardware, she said.
Hughes said four-digit passwords don’t always protect sensitive data since widely available computer applications can crack those codes in 90 seconds and tracking applications only work when the devices are on. Some of the trackers don’t give precise locations — just a building or area.
Lehner said she isn’t sure that stealing a cell phone should be a felony offense. “It’s so easy to see a cell phone on the seat of a bus and picking it up and taking it that I’m not sure that person should be charged with a felony that could send them away to prison for several years,” she said. “But a computer or an iPad, one has to give a little bit of thought to stealing something like that.”
Hughes hopes the bill is approved by the General Assembly this fall.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said that while he hasn’t looked at the bill, he supports it in concept. Historically, Ohio law considers the dollar value of the item stolen, he said.
“To think that all you’re stealing is a $10 phone is simply wrong. You’re stealing stuff that could be worth tens of thousands of dollars either to the crook or to the person who lost it,” DeWine said.
Louie Toms, of Springfield, who had his laptop stolen from his car, agreed and said he supports the bill.
“I had all kinds of personal information stored on there, family pictures, school information and other documents,” he said. “I think (the bill) is a great idea, no matter what the value, if you can store valuable information and it’s stolen, put people in prison.”
How to protect yourself
Tips from The Wireless Association to protect your data on your smartphone if it is lost or stolen:
Be Aware. Know your surroundings, be mindful of where you use it and don’t create an opportunity for a thief to steal it.
Lock It. Set a hard to guess password to protect your device and change it on a regular basis.
Add Apps. Get an application that allows you to remotely track, lock or erase your smartphone.
Back It Up. Save your photos, contacts and other data. It’s always a good idea to have a backup copy.
Insure It. If you are prone to losing things, you may want to consider insuring your device.
AFTER your smartphone is lost or stolen:
Report It. Immediately notify your wireless provider. If your device is lost, tell your provider to put a “hold” on your account so that if it ends up being stolen, you’ve prevented unauthorized usage. Report the theft to police. Tell them what tracking apps you have installed that may help them locate the thief.
Locate it. If it has been stolen, activate the tracking app from a safe location and remote lock your smartphone so the thief cannot access your personal information.
Erase It. If you have sensitive information or you believe your smartphone won’t be returned, it’s best to remote “wipe” it.
Paperless hearings saved nearly half a million pages; live streaming improved transparency
With the state operating budget slated for a vote in the House, Speaker of the Ohio House William G. Batchelder (R-Medina) today commended the efforts of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee to craft a responsible budget while at the same time instituting many substantial improvements to the committee process.
The committee heard testimony on House Bill 59 from 131 witnesses and spent more than 69 hours in committee deliberating the budget. Additionally, it made historic efforts to not only make the committee more modernized and efficient, but also to bring the budget discussions to the homes of every Ohioan by broadcasting hearings online.
By using iPads to access committee materials such as testimony, bill language, amendments, comparison documents, and other supporting materials, the Finance and Appropriations Committee significantly improved the efficiency of the committee’s operations. As a result of the paperless pilot project, the House saved thousands of dollars in the cost of paper and other overhead solely during the budget process. Additionally, reduced printing demands allowed the House to close a bill room, which will save $31,500 annually.
Furthermore, the House took an unprecedented step to make the budget process more transparent and accessible by streaming the Finance and Appropriations Committee online on the House web site. A cumulative total of more than 331,000 visitors streamed the committee hearings, with over 13,000 unique visitors to the Finance and Appropriations Committee web site since January. The committee also posted documents to the web site for public examination.
Speaker Batchelder released the following statement on the committee’s work and efficiencies:
“I am very appreciative of all the time and effort that Chairman Amstutz and the members of the Finance and Appropriations Committee devoted to this endeavor. Not only did they ensure that the budget bill is steadfast in our commitment to Ohio’s economy and competitiveness, but they also did so in a way that opened the doors of the entire process to all Ohioans. The opportunity for Ohioans to watch committee hearings from the comfort of their homes or wherever they may be, including on their mobile devices, is a new and exciting program that was a great success during these budget proceedings. We also made efficiency a priority by going paperless and digitalizing our materials, which emulates a method that many private-sector businesses already employ. The way in which the Finance and Appropriations Committee hearings were operated with such efficiency is a testament to Chairman Amstutz’s dedication to an open and transparent process.”
New Study Shows 17% of Ohioans Take Advantage of Teleworking Opportunities
By Lyndsey Kleven
According to Connect Ohio’s recently published report, The Impact of Teleworking on Ohio’s Workforce and Businesses, reveals new data showing that the number of Ohio employees who Telework is increasing to 17%, with approximately 783,000 now using a home Internet connection rather than commuting to their workplace. On average, teleworkers in Ohio collectively save an average of 2.19 billion commuting miles, saving them approximately $430 million in automobile operating costs a year.
“Ohio can be proud that our broadband innovation allows nearly 800,000 Ohioans the flexibility to work remotely,” said Stu Johnson executive director of Connect Ohio. “Broadband Internet provides the opportunity for many to telework and transforms the workplace, and this report shows that increased broadband access and adoption fuels jobs and economic development. However, it’s discouraging to think that many of our fellow citizens are still excluded from these opportunities because of the lack in adequate broadband availability.”
Connect Ohio works to increase broadband access, adoption, and use. As part of this initiative, Connect Ohio has examined how teleworking impacts the state’s workforce and employers. The report shows that a growing number of businesses and residents are benefitting from the advantages of teleworking, allowing businesses to recruit and retain a better workforce, connecting employees to better jobs, no matter where they are located, all while seeing a significant savings in terms of commuting times and cost. The savings translate into large economic and environmental benefits to the entire state.
Additional key findings from this report include:
· Of the 17% of employed teleworking adults in the state, approximately 301,000 work from home every day.
· Ohio teleworkers tend to be more highly educated and have higher annual household incomes. Nearly nine out of ten Ohio teleworkers (88%) have a college education, and six out of ten have annual household incomes of $75,000 or more.
· As a result of teleworking, Ohioans drive an estimated 2.19 billion fewer miles, saving them approximately $430 million in automobile operating costs, and reducing automotive CO2 production by 1.97 billion pounds.
· The average teleworker gains more than 88 hours of time, or almost 4 full days each year, by not commuting.
· In 2010, over one out of five (22%) Ohio businesses, or almost 59,000 businesses across the state, reported that they had employees who regularly worked from home during normal business hours.
· Only 10% of rural Ohio employees work from home instead of commuting to their usual workplace, compared to 18% of non-rural Ohio employees. Almost one out of four (24%) rural Ohio businesses allowed employees to telework in 2010.