Home Broadband Maps Created by National Digital Inclusion Alliance

December 14, 2018

Credit: National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA)

New NDIA maps show home Internet connection rates by Census tract throughout the U.S.

With the latest U.S. Census data released in early December, a national organization that works to expand broadband access across the country has moved quickly to help cities and internet providers shed light on new data.

According to a newly-released update, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), the organization has published six interactive maps showing the percentage of households with wireline broadband connections, for every Census tract in the United States. The NDIA maps also show the percentage of households with no home Internet connection of any kind. The announcement was made through NDIA's Digital Inclusion News, which provides current data, reports and resource updates throughout the year.

The home internet maps provide a uniquely detailed picture of the extent of home broadband connectivity, as well as the persistent gaps in that connectivity afflicting both rural areas and inner city neighborhoods throughout the nation.

NDIA’s maps are based on new data from the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-Year Estimates, released in early December by the U.S. Census. The interactive maps below are based on new Census data released on December 6, 2018 as part of the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-Year Estimates. Notably, for the first time, the 2017 ACS includes computer ownership and internet access information for local Census tracts. 

“The ACS has been collecting large-scale survey information on household computer ownership and Internet access for the past five years, but until now that data has only been published for communities with populations of more than 20,000, and only at the community-wide level”, explained NDIA Executive Director Angela Siefer. “Now, for the first time, the Census is making this same data available for every Census tract in the country,” Siefer noted, adding, “This is an incredible new resource for people in city neighborhoods, small communities, rural and tribal areas to understand and address the broadband divides in our own diverse communities.”

NDIA’s Executive Director offered the following summary analysis of the maps: “NDIA staff has mapped two of the most significant data points from the new ACS Internet access tables. On the positive side, we show the percentage of households in each tract that are connected to the Internet by wireline technologies including cable, DSL and fiber to the home.  On the less positive side, we show the percentage of households in each tract that lack any home Internet connection, including mobile Internet service or dial-up modems. We’re making these maps public as quickly as possible, to enable public officials, policy makers, community organizations, anchor institutions, media and ordinary citizens to start forming a more accurate picture of the real state of broadband access, and the true severity of the digital divide, close to home.”

NDIA also publishes a compilation of Worst Connected Cities, covered on this site in an article published after the organization issued its latest report. In an August article, Smart & Resilient Cities reported on the Congressional support behind the expansion of broadband access.

NDIA affiliation is voluntarily, with affiliates representing local government, community organizations, public libraries and other institutions committed to reducing digital disparities. Affiliates work toward widespread and actionable digital inclusion public policies. In addition to the development of the maps, and its annual connectivity rankings, NDIA sponsors Digital Inclusion Week annually. Among its numerous programs and initiatives, the organization maintains a listing of Digital Inclusion Resources, which is divided into Strategies, Local Government Plans (digital inclusion and digital equity plans), Data and Research.

The organization also hosts an annual Net Inclusion Conference. "Net Inclusion 2019" will begin Monday, April 1, with pre-conference events in the morning and Digital Inclusion Site Tours, included in the cost of registration, in the afternoon. Tuesday, April 2, the Conference will offer a full day of interactive sessions – including a Smart City track – and the Conference will conclude on Wednesday, April 3, 2019. According to NDIA, the event welcomes digital inclusion community practitioners, smart city planners, public and private partners, advocates, academics, Internet service providers, and policymakers to discuss: local, state and federal policies and policy innovations impacting digital equity; sources of financial and programmatic support of digital inclusion programs; and digital inclusion best practices from across the country.


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