Did One Good Map Bring Low Cost Internet to Thousands of Low Income Cleveland Residents?

Did One Good Map Bring Low Cost Internet to Thousands of Low Income Cleveland Residents?

Readers of the Health Data Matters Blog know that I’ve been advocating for recognition of high speed internet access as a social determinant of health. Readers also know we believe that well constructed data visualizations can be very compelling. Well, our colleagues at Connect Your Community 2.0 (CYC) and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) just made this point for us beautifully!

On September 5, NDIA posted a blog article stating that AT&T officials indicated that they would continue to deny providing the “Acess from AT&T” discount program to thousands of area poor households because–wait for it–the service in their neighborhoods was too SLOW to be qualify for the discount! So low income households would have to continue paying 3-6 times the discount rate for their ongoing slow service. The blog piece, which included this very compelling map from CYC’s Bill Callahan went viral, resulting in AT&T’s change of heart.

Of course, a better outcome would be for AT&T to upgrade slow service in poor neighborhoods. And for regulators to punish internet service providers who discriminate on the basis of race and income in terms of where they build high speed broadband.

But is this discrimination? Well, perhaps some enterprising reader will use our data to examine statistically whether the association between internet speed at the block level and income or race of residents is random or not. If not, what other factors might explain the relationship?

Visit our sister site, hdm.livestories.com to play with the data on broadband availability. We’ll publish the best story submitted to us on the topic.