What you need to know
- Microsoft released a Digital Equity Data Dashboard this week to help understand gaps in broadband connectivity throughout the United States.
- The dashboard uses data from the Census Bureau, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), BroadbandNow, and Microsoft’s own Broadband Usage Data.
- It breaks down access to the internet by region by looking at 20 factors, including broadband access, usage, poverty rates, and education.
Microsoft released a Digital Equity Data Dashboard this week to help illustrate which areas have access to the internet. The dashboard factors in several indicators, including broadband access, usage, education, and poverty rates, rather than just looking at broadband speed in any given area. Microsoft’s new tool uses information from the Census Bureau, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), BroadbandNow and broadband usage data gathered by Microsoft.
The Digital Equity Data Dashboard is “one of the most complete pictures of digital equity in these areas to date,” according to Microsoft.
Microsoft shared an example of how its map’s data paints a different picture than information from the FCC.
“Take Ferry County, Washington, for example, where the FCC claims that only 0.4% of households lack access to broadband, which by itself provides a bright view of the county’s digital opportunity. But our dashboard shows that 97% of the county aren’t using the internet at broadband speeds. Furthermore, more than a third of households don’t have a desktop or laptop to use the broadband available to them.”
The blog post also explained how the digital divide is not simply between rural and urban areas. According to Microsoft, more than 25% of residents in Los Angeles County do not use the internet at broadband speed. Additionally, close to 20% of households in the county do not have a desktop or laptop computer.
People can search the dashboard on a state-by-state basis or zoom in further to get a detailed look at how neighborhoods compare to each other.
“At Microsoft, we know technology can change lives, but only if it is available, accessible and affordable,” said Vickie Robinson, who oversees Microsoft’s Airband Initiative.