Yesterday I took a look at Minnesota County ranking for broadband access. Today’s it’s a look at County ranking for digital divide. The folks at Mississippi State University Extension have come up with a ranking system to gauge the digital divide by county…
The DDI is a county-level index score (from 0 to 100) measuring the digital divide. The higher the number, the larger the digital divide. The objective of the DDI is to serve as a descriptive and pragmatic tool for policymakers, community leaders, and residents. The DDI consists of two components: infrastructure/adoption and socioeconomic characteristics.
Three broadband infrastructure and adoption indicators were grouped for the infrastructure/adoption (INFA) component. Data was obtained from the FCC Form 477 and includes percent people without access to 25/3 fixed broadband, number of residential fixed broadband connections per 1,000 households, and average advertised upload/download speeds. A high INFA score implies investments need to be made regarding broadband infrastructure, including improving speeds.
The second component measures socioeconomic (SE) characteristics that are known to lag in technology adoption: percentage 65 and over, percent population 25 and over with less than high school, and (individual) poverty rate. These were included because counties with a higher SE score are at a higher risk of lagging in technology adoption requiring more digital literacy and technology relevance efforts, which also impact the digital divide along with broadband infrastructure and adoption.
You can download the full list of Minnesota Counties – I thought I’d pull out the top and bottom ten as I did yesterday.
Top 10 Counties (with their DDI score – remember lower is better):
- Carver 11.69
- Scott 11.87
- Washington 14.06
- Dakota 15.60
- Anoka 16.32
- Wright 16.82
- Sherburne 17.03
- Dodge 20.33
- Olmsted 21.12
- Hennepin 21.70
It’s worth noting that all of these are listed as Metropolitan Counties, which only one of the lowest ranking counties is listed as Metro (Fillmore).
Bottom 10 Counties (with their DDI score – remember lower is better):
- Yellow Medicine 55.89
- Redwood 56.22
- Lake of the Woods 58.14
- Cass 58.67
- Fillmore 59.43
- Todd 59.62
- Becker 61.07
- Norman 65.85
- Mahnomen 66.72
- Aitkin 68.43
The state average was 40.66 with socioeconomic characteristics averaging 59.00 and infrastructure averaging 40.66. Looking at the full report, Minnesota is not at the top or bottom of the DDI list – although Carver and Scott Counties are both listed in the top 10 lowest socioeconomic scores, which means their populations have the least propensity to having characteristics that best match people who are slow to adopt broadband.
The report is a good reminder that expanding broadband, and expanding smart broadband use is a one-two punch. It requires both infrastructure and digital inclusion efforts. We’ve seen that in Minnesota in place like Lac qui Parle County. They received ARRA funding to upgrade most of the county to FTTH but they also made efforts to reach to the far edges of the digital divide while the fiber was deployed. The built demand as they built supply.