Microsoft has this week launched a new Digital Equity Data Dashboard. According to the company, the dashboard provides a deeper look into economic opportunity gaps across the United States. It offers granular understanding across cities, towns, and even neighborhoods. Microsoft describes it as a “street-by-street view of digital inequity” across the country.
The Digital Equity Data Dashboard is the work of the Microsoft AI for Good Lab and Juan Lavista Ferres, Microsoft's Chief Data Science Officer. It runs on the company's Power BI app. The tool works by aggregating public data taken from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Census Bureau, BroadbandNow, and Microsoft's own information from Broadband Usage Data.
It automatically tracks 20 different indicators of digital equality by going from census tract-by-census tract. Among those 20 indicators are digital education, broadband usage and access, and poverty rates. Microsoft described the Digital Equity Data Dashboard as the most comprehensive view of digital inequity to date.
In a blog post announcing the dashboard, Microsoft describes digital equity in the following way:
“Digital equity – access to affordable internet, affordable devices and digital skills – is a foundation for empowerment, digital transformation and economic opportunity. With states looking to drive historic investments in digital opportunity thanks to the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program, the Digital Equity Act and more, it's clear we can no longer just consider the immediate lens of broadband availability as a major indicator of opportunity. The pandemic made clear that being digitally connected – either through broadband or mobile internet – is a fundamental necessity for every citizen, and not just for school and work. The last two years has acted as an accelerant, driving essential activities online, from everyday businesses and services, such as banking and telehealth, to simply ordering food at a restaurant.”
Microsoft says it tapped into the best available data to build the Digital Equity Data Dashboard. The company wants the tool to be a resource for policymakers to help them make decisions on areas in communities that need funding for digital equity.
Among the interesting data points, the dashboard highlights that some areas, such as Ferry Country in Washington have 97% of residents without internet broadband speeds. Furthermore, over a third of people do not have a desktop or laptop.
You can check out the Microsoft Digital Equity Data Dashboard here.
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