MN County Rankings for Digital Divide: How does your County rank?

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):

  1. Carver   11.69
  2. Scott      11.87
  3. Washington        14.06
  4. Dakota  15.60
  5. Anoka   16.32
  6. Wright  16.82
  7. Sherburne          17.03
  8. Dodge   20.33
  9. Olmsted               21.12
  10. 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):

  1. Yellow Medicine               55.89
  2. Redwood            56.22
  3. Lake of the Woods           58.14
  4. Cass       58.67
  5. Fillmore                59.43
  6. Todd      59.62
  7. Becker  61.07
  8. Norman               65.85
  9. Mahnomen        66.72
  10. 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.


This entry was posted in Digital Divide, MN, Policy, Research by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

3 thoughts on “MN County Rankings for Digital Divide: How does your County rank?

  1. Currently working with 2015 data. County-level and census tract level with 2015 data should be available early next year. Idea is to update the index annually.

    Thanks for sharing!

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