“Mapping Broadband Health in America” Provides Data-Driven Tool for Developing Broadband Health Policies and Solutions
The Federal Communications Commission’s (@) Connect2Health Task Force launched the Mapping Broadband Health in America tool, a web-based mapping tool that will enable and inform more efficient, data-driven decision making at the intersection of broadband and health. By allowing users to ask and answer questions about broadband and health at the county and census block levels, the tool provides critical data that can help drive broadband health policies and connected health solutions for this critical space.
The mapping tool is an interactive experience, showing various aspects of connectivity and health for every state and county in the United States. Users can generate customized maps that display broadband access, adoption and speed data alongside various health measures (e.g., obesity, diabetes, disabilities and physician access) in urban and rural areas. These maps can be used by both public and private sectors and local communities to identify not only gaps, but also opportunities.
“We are excited to make this state-of-the-art tool available to the public,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “The unique insights revealed by this mapping platform can be utilized by businesses and policymakers to effect change and innovation.”
Below are examples of some of the initial findings:
- The picture of health is vastly different in connected communities vs. digitally isolated communities. This holds true across access to care, quality of care and health outcome metrics. For example, obesity prevalence is 25 percent higher and diabetes prevalence is 35 percent higher in these counties (i.e., where 60 percent of households lack access to broadband and over 60 percent lack basic Internet connections at home.)
- There is a significant gap between rural and urban counties. Almost 60 percent of rural Americans live in counties that have high burdens of chronic disease as well as a need for greater broadband connectivity, while less than 5 percent of urban America falls into the same category.
“This is a groundbreaking effort at the nexus of broadband and health,” said FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. “The map makes clear that there are some communities that bear a double burden…they have the lowest connectivity and highest need. Today, we identify challenges and point to sustainable and innovative solutions.
Since 2014, the Task Force has traveled to several states as part of its “Beyond the Beltway Series” to learn how communities are leveraging broadband technologies and next-generation communications services to improve access to health and care services.
“This platform reflects the creative genius of a tireless, dedicated, multi-disciplinary team,” said Task Force Chair Michele Ellison. “The map cleverly reveals otherwise hidden realities about broadband and health at the county level. We have seen the faces behind this data and we know firsthand what a difference connectivity can make.”
The Connect2HealthFCC Task Force welcomes suggestions and feedback as it continues to develop and refine the tool. Comments or additional data concerning the mapping tool can be submitted for the record via the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System, GN Docket 16-91.
The tool is another step in the broader effort by the Connect2HealthFCC Task Force to further chart the broadband future of health and care. The Mapping Broadband Health in America webpage, provides additional map resources including a Quick Start Tutorial, FAQs, sample maps, priority county lists and a digital press kit. The Task Force is planning to offer a free webinar training series this fall. Once confirmed, the dates and registration information will be publicly announced and made available on the FCC’s broadband health hub.
Please visit Connect2HealthFCC Task Force to learn more.