Every year, the Blandin on Broadband blog does County Broadband Profiles (and will do again when the new maps come out) but given federal opportunities are making it possible to get funding for access and adoption, I thought I’d try to present information for counties to assess their digital equity standing (see table below) and give options for who to contact locally for more information.
Beltrami County ranks 40 out of 87 counties for digital equity, while that’s a very middle ranking the details of the segment ranking tell a much more interesting story. They have top ranking for access to broadband at speeds to 100 Mbps down and 20 up because they have at least one engaged broadband provider. They also rank 86 for population below poverty in the last year. Affordability is likely an issue; population without a high school degree ranks 55 so there may opportunities here too. Finding a way to connect their good broadband to people who are living in poverty with digital literacy and workforce training might be a good investment for the community. Paul Bunyan Communications has been spreading the word about federal subsidy programs to make broadband more affordable for households – that should help too.
Blandin Foundation is using the Microsoft Digital Equity Tool to determine needs by county and make high level recommendations for next steps to consider based on the data. (With special thanks to Carter Grupp, Broadband Coordinator Broadband Coordinator at American Connection Project for Otter Tail County.) Visit the tool if you want to look up more statistics on your community.
Demographic Data and Ranking (out of 87)
|Access to 100/20||1|
|No HS degree||55|
|Below 150% poverty (last 12 months)||86|
|Below poverty (last 12 months)||86|
|No broadband access||30|
The map below shows digital inequity by census tract. The bluer the better; yellow and orange colors indicate more inequity. This map can be helpful in figuring out which parts of your county need the most help.
So where do you go to talk to people in the county about digit equity plans? Good places to start include:
- Bemidji Area Schools (ISD #31)
Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Olson
- Blackduck Public School District (ISD #32)
Superintendent Mark Lundin
- Kelliher Public School District (ISD #36)
Superintendent Paul Grams
(218) 647-8286 x1304
- Red Lake School District (ISD #38)
Superintendent Tim Lutz
Regional Development Commission
- Headwaters Regional Development Commission