Purdue University

Recognizing the critical need for broadband to bridge the digital divide

For urban and rural communities, the digital divide is more than just the lack of access to high-speed internet — it’s a disconnect from economic and social ties as well as opportunities in a fast-changing society. Roberto Gallardo, Purdue University’s vice president for engagement, has spent the past decade analyzing local and regional community economic development, including the use of technology. He notes that the U.S.

Purdue Center for Regional Development leads effort for Indiana’s Digital Equity Plan

The Purdue Center for Regional Development—in partnership with the Indiana Broadband Office, the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, and Purdue Extension—has developed a draft of the state’s first-ever Digital Equity Plan.

A Closer Look at Indiana’s Digital Equity: Mobile-Only

In Indiana, 9.1 percent of survey respondents only had smartphone devices, compared to 86.4 percent with smartphones and at least one other device. Less than 5 percent of respondents either did not have devices or had devices other than smartphones.

Why Are Indiana Residents Not Paying for Home Internet?

Over 12% of Indiana survey respondents did not pay for home internet in the previous 12 months. The biggest reasons were related to affordability and not only about home internet service but devices too. Lacking a desktop or laptop was the main reason why 7% of survey respondents did not use the internet daily. Additionally, survey respondents believed a home internet service was not necessary since their smartphones let them do everything they needed to do online.

A “Reverse” Digital Divide in Indiana?

The Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD) partnered with the Indiana University Center for Survey Research (IU-CSR) to gather data on Indiana residents on several digital equity indicators. A surprising finding was that the difference between Whites and racial/ethnic minorities was not statistically significant but more importantly, they were “reversed” to what was expected.

The Impact of Remote Work

Working from home became necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a survey done by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research during May of 2020, 42% of all US workers worked from home and accounted for two-thirds of the nation’s gross domestic product. Therefore, work from home has become a feasible economic development strategy at the onset of COVID-19. This study gauges the contribution of workers from home in Indiana in 2021 by using the Regional Economic Modeling, Inc. (REMI) general equilibrium model.

Digital Equity Takes a Village

The digital equity task force needs help creating a map of digital inclusion assets in Indiana. Specifically, the task force is looking to map any organization or institution that offers digital inclusion programs or resources. These resources can include things such as public or free Wi-Fi, computers for public use, hotspot lending programs, device lending programs, device giveaway program, digital skills training programs, meeting space, or similar program opportunities.

2019 Digital Divide Index

This 2019 Digital Divide Index (DDI) is an updated version that scores: the overall digital divide index, infrastructure/adoption, and socioeconomic. For purposes of this post, we divided all census tracts in the country, whose DDI could be calculated, into three equal groups (roughly same number of tracts per group) based on their DDI score: low, medium, and high. Of the roughly 324 million residents in the U.S.

Remote Work and the Coronavirus

Large segments of the US workforce have shifted to remote work, but not all workers and communities are equally prepared for remote work or e-learning. Studies have found not all jobs/occupations are remote work friendly and internet access among school districts vary significantly.

A Look at Broadband Access, Providers and Technology

The Federal Communications Commission publishes a bi-annual dataset based on data submitted by internet service providers using Form 477. This dataset provides information at the Census block level, the most granular geography used by the US Census Bureau, on types of technologies available (e.g. Cable, Fixed Wireless, Fiber-optic, etc.), maximum advertised download/ upload speeds, and providers’ names among other information. However, this dataset has several limitations.