Latest Digital Divide report is out – MN digital divide index is increasing

The Digital  Divide Index looks at access to broadband and socioeconomic characteristics of a community to determine the propensity toward a point-based gap. The higher the number, the higher the gap. (When I did County Profiles I included the DDI number – this report updates that number.)  In general places with a higher DDI umber need more attention – but diving in a little bit it can be valuable to see the comparison between access and socioeconomic characteristics to figure out what kind of attention. It seems simple to say – invest in infrastructure where those numbers are high and training, access to computer, promoting technology where the socioeconomic gaps are high – but it’s only simple when there’s a benchmark like this to help gauge.

You can see how Minnesota measures up on the maps below – red areas may be in trouble – green areas are doing well.

Here is how MN has changed since 2014 (the current is 2015 stats).

2014 2015 2014 2015 2014 2015
Minnesota 28.69 29.51 58.84 62.06 38.09 41.92

We’ve seen a slight increase in the DDI, which isn’t a good thing. (Lower is better for SE and DDI.)

Looking at the individual counties, the DDI score improved for only 12 counties:

  • Becker
  • Beltrami
  • Cass
  • Cook
  • Fillmore
  • Hubbard
  • Itasca
  • Lake
  • Mahnomen
  • Norman
  • Red Lake
  • Sibley

(See how all MN Counties did.)

The value of this information will increase over time. For example – today what we see when we look at infrastructure (INFA) are areas that need better broadband and when we look at socioeconomic (SE) characteristics include a large demographic of residents to traditionally have a lower tendency to adopt broadband. Unfortunately the data is from 2015 – so that data does not include recent upgrade spurred by the Border to Border grants or private sector upgrades as we’ve seen with Paul Bunyan and will see this year with Mediacom. But those impacts should be obvious as soon as the data is collected (from federal resources).

Knowing where the infrastructure is (and isn’t) is valuable for policymakers who are willing to invest in improvement. It’s also valuable to residents and businesses that are looking to relocate. The impact of that knowledge will show up – more slowly on the socioeconomic (SE) scale. Subsequently, there may be a trickle down effect on the SE ranking of counties inversely correlating with access to broadband. The great access to technology – the lower gap.

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

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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