My appreciation to my friends at the Wisconsin State Telecom Association for not appearing to be sick of me yet and continuing to extend invitations for me to have an excuse to journey back to my old stomping grounds in the midwest. This year was even more poignant because it gave me a reason to stop in Chicago for a night to check on my dad and make my way up to Wisconsin from there instead of my typical flight to Milwaukee. (I’ve been kind of a travel ninja since my mother passed away and have found a way to fly through Chicago on nearly a monthly basis…not sure I can keep that schedule up too much longer but it has been a gift!)
I used the time with my father to continue to check on his mental and physical well being, spending time with his new friends in his retirement community and thinking of ways I can continue to enhance his new lifestyle. This time I brought along with me the third generation Amazon Echo Dot. I’m not concerned about his privacy being invaded (but ensured that I did not import any of his contacts as I set up his device, just in case). My dad loves listening to music and checking on news and stock reports so the ability to have access at the call of his voice is a powerful tool for him. In addition, while he is still sharp as a tack, keeping track of things like what day it is seems to be challenging, even for a guy who has transformed his dining room table into a work station that includes a table size calendar with his daily schedule which includes multiple meal “dates, lectures that he is attending, and committee meetings for his new community etc…but whether it is Monday, Tuesday or Friday continue to be confusing. What could be better than him having the ability to say (as many times a day as he would like) “Alexa, what is today?” And then follow that up with some request for classical music? It’s a small integration so we’ll see how it goes but I did have to leave a little note next to the Dot reminding him to say “Alexa” to kick off any tasks. (We’ve already had Amanda and Andrea used to no avail! Reminds me of the fabulous SNL skit on the topic of seniors and AI.
But then it was off to the beautiful land of Wisconsin and highway construction! What a treat to spend time with such an innovative group of companies who are cutting edge on all that they are doing. Partnerships with electric coops, complex broadband deployments and an NTCA Smart Rural Community sponsored pilot project on using technology to ease senior citizen isolation in partnership with Grandcare , WSTA and Nelson Telecom. Their annual meeting kicked off with a really thought-provoking IoT presentation from John McDonald, CEO of Clear Object that helped to reiterate how the networks of NTCA members will be key to all of these sensor driven technologies. Hang on to your seats!