Digital Divide Index show readiness for impacts of COVID quarantines: Most MN counties ready but not all

Back in 2017, Roberto Gallardo was one of the keynote speaker at a Minnesota Broadband conference. He found a way to formulate a Digital Divide Index for each county in Minnesota based on a range of data point especially organized in two categories broadband adoption/infrastructure and socioeconomic factors. He’s done it again looking at county-level data across the United States. The map below will give you an idea of how Minnesota compares. (The brighter the color, the brighter the digital equity outlook.)

We can also see a marked urban/rural divide as he points out…

These groups were then utilized to analyze a host of other variables to better understand this issue. Figure 1 shows a map of U.S. counties by DDI groups. Of the 1,031 counties with a low digital divide, 747 or 72% were considered urban (population living in urban areas 2 was more than 50%). On the other hand, of the 1,063 counties with a high digital divide, only 187 or 17.5% were urban.

Roberto looks at a number of aspects that touch on the digital divide; one that struck me was workforce situations – especially given that the data used was from 2020. It really highlights the divide between those who were ready, willing and able to work online during the early stage of the pandemic and those who weren’t.

Digital divide may not be the only issue in these areas but it’s definitely an exacerbating factor…

The digital divide is holding back counties from participating fully in the digital economy. Again, it is not clear if this would have been the case regardless of the digital divide, but nonetheless it is placing communities at a disadvantage. As shown, counties with a high digital divide lost jobs between 2010 and 2020 while counties with a low digital divide saw an 11 percent increase. Likewise, the share of occupations requiring high digital skills was larger in counties with a low digital divide. Lastly, microbusiness density and activity were also lower in counties with a high digital divide. However, regarding microbusiness activity, the issue seems to be more about sophisticated online presence rather than infrastructure and number of businesses online.

Wondering how your county did – check the list below. Only two counties were in the danger area: Aitkin and Mahnomen. Looking at how they rank in terms of access, Aitkin 79 and Mahnomen is 61.

Name  
Aitkin County High
Anoka County Low
Becker County Low
Beltrami County Low
Benton County Low
Big Stone County Moderate
Blue Earth County Low
Brown County Low
Carlton County Moderate
Carver County Low
Cass County Moderate
Chippewa County Moderate
Chisago County Low
Clay County Low
Clearwater County Moderate
Cook County Moderate
Cottonwood County Moderate
Crow Wing County Low
Dakota County Low
Dodge County Low
Douglas County Low
Faribault County Moderate
Fillmore County Low
Freeborn County Moderate
Goodhue County Low
Grant County Moderate
Hennepin County Low
Houston County Low
Hubbard County Low
Isanti County Low
Itasca County Moderate
Jackson County Low
Kanabec County Moderate
Kandiyohi County Low
Kittson County Moderate
Koochiching County Moderate
Lac qui Parle County Moderate
Lake County Moderate
Lake of the Woods County Moderate
Le Sueur County Low
Lincoln County Moderate
Lyon County Low
Mahnomen County High
Marshall County Moderate
Martin County Moderate
McLeod County Low
Meeker County Low
Mille Lacs County Moderate
Morrison County Moderate
Mower County Moderate
Murray County Moderate
Nicollet County Low
Nobles County Moderate
Norman County Moderate
Olmsted County Low
Otter Tail County Moderate
Pennington County Low
Pine County Moderate
Pipestone County Moderate
Polk County Low
Pope County Moderate
Ramsey County Low
Red Lake County Moderate
Redwood County Moderate
Renville County Moderate
Rice County Low
Rock County Low
Roseau County Low
Scott County Low
Sherburne County Low
Sibley County Low
St. Louis County Moderate
Stearns County Low
Steele County Low
Stevens County Low
Swift County Moderate
Todd County Moderate
Traverse County Moderate
Wabasha County Low
Wadena County Moderate
Waseca County Low
Washington County Low
Watonwan County Moderate
Wilkin County Moderate
Winona County Low
Wright County Low
Yellow Medicine County Moderate
This entry was posted in Digital Divide, MN, Research, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

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

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