Mapping Broadband Health in America - FAQs
What is the purpose of the map? How will it be used? By whom?
The Mapping Broadband Health in America platform—conceived and conceptualized by the FCC’s Connect2Health Task Force—enables data-driven decision making at the intersection of broadband and health. This first-of-its-kind mapping platform was created to visualize key cross-currents in broadband and health data, which can serve as a valuable tool for both public and private stakeholders. The initial platform first included chronic disease, broadband, and other data, but since its creation, the platform generated significant interest among policymakers, researches, and innovators, resulting in directives from Congress and requests from other stakeholders to incorporate other health variables and functionalities. The 2023 release is especially timely, given concerns over the increasing maternal mortality rates, access to care issues facing women of reproductive age, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and continued national concern over the opioids crisis. By allowing users to ask and answer questions about broadband and health in any state and county in the United States, the tool provides the information and data that could help drive broadband health policies and solutions for this critical space.
The mapping platform can be used in various ways—by federal, state and local agencies; tribal governments; and the private sector. It can help inform policy decisions, facilitate interagency coordination, encourage public/private partnerships and investment, and drive innovation—directing resources to areas with overlapping broadband and health needs. Sample uses include:
- Fully-customizable maps can not only show different angles on broadband connectivity, including deployment and subscribership, but how those correspond to various metrics for health behaviors, outcomes and access in urban and rural areas.
- For the FCC and other agencies, the mapping platform can inform and improve policy decisions and facilitate coordination with other federal, state and local entities in identifying solutions to persistent problems in rural and underserved areas. It can also be used to characterize regions and clusters and highlight areas that merit priority focus for funding.
- For the private sector, the tool can focus targeted and precise interventions in the areas of most need and identify opportunities for partnerships and collaborations.
Why did the FCC create the mapping platform?
The Mapping Broadband Health in America platform was created to better demonstrate the value proposition of broadband in health. The goal was to enable users to ask questions about both broadband and health in any county in the United States and to leverage a shared platform that can provide relevant data and help drive meaningful broadband and health policies and solutions. With aid of the platform, the Task Force has been able to make critical findings about the relationship of broadband and health, observe possible trends, and identify counties that are “double burden,” a term used by the Task Force to identify counties that have both a higher than average health need and below average broadband connectivity—offering a potential basis for prioritization. Indeed, over the years, the platform has become a valuable resource for users to visualize, intersect, and analyze broadband and health data at the national, state, and county levels, providing compelling insights on opportunities and gaps in the connected health space. By using the mapping platform as a foundation for understanding the intersection of broadband and health, policymakers and other stakeholders can chart a concrete path to a more connected and healthier future for all Americans.
What are the new updates to the mapping platform?
The 2023 release reflects an important expansion of the mapping platform, both in response to congressional and other stakeholder requests, as well as needed changes to the methodology to better address data gaps and improvements. The platform now provides more advanced visualizations and analytic functionalities. The updated architecture and methodology allow users greater flexibility and control, as the broadband health space evolves.
In response to a congressional request, the Task Force added data on maternal outcomes and risk factors. Specifically, the “Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act” that was signed into law on December 20, 2022, directed the FCC to “incorporate publicly available data on maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity, including for not less than 1 year postpartum” into the mapping platform, in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, the platform now includes opioid-related mortality rates and opioid prescription data as a result of a separate Congressional request that the map overlay drug abuse statistics with the level of Internet access to help address the ongoing opioid epidemic in the country.
Finally, the current version of the platform also includes updated chronic disease and access to care metrics. With respect to broadband data, the current platform includes the most current, publicly-available broadband data that is complete and that includes both access and adoption data. The fixed broadband data in the platform comes from the Commission’s Form 477 data program that collects data on residential fixed broadband deployment and residential fixed Internet subscribership. The broadband data in the platform was released in September 2020 and covers data submissions as of June 2019.
Is the FCC's effort to incorporate maternal health data complete?
The FCC is pursuing a multi-phase approach to the maternal health mapping effort. During the next phases of this effort, the FCC and its Connect2Health Task Force plan to incorporate additional maternal health variables and functionalities into the mapping platform, conduct important research and data analytics on the intersection of broadband connectivity and maternal health, and pursue additional activities to advance the role of broadband connectivity in improving maternal health. Data under consideration for inclusion in future iterations of the platform include risk factors for poor maternal health outcomes like hypertension (preeclampsia), obesity, gestational diabetes, and mental health and substance abuse as well as additional demographic data (e.g., income, education). In addition, the Task Force welcomes public input on additional variables related to maternal health that it might consider including, as well as other functionalities that could serve to improve the user experience.
What are some of the questions the mapping platform can answer?
The mapping platform allows users to explore many questions, including the following:
- What is the relationship between broadband connectivity and health
- Where can telehealth and other broadband-enabled solutions be leveraged now to address high maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity in new and novel ways?
- How do rural and urban areas compare on broadband connectivity and health?
- Where do broadband connectivity and maternal health needs coincide?
- What is the broadband picture in maternity care deserts?
- Where are the gaps and opportunities for telehealth, to lock in and increase gains in treating chronic conditions and mental health conditions – many of which are themselves risk factors for maternal health?
- What is the maternal health, chronic disease, or opioids picture in higher vs. lower connectivity areas?
- What does the intersection of broadband and mental health provider shortages show, given the association between mental health and poor maternal health outcomes.
- Where can existing broadband infrastructure be leveraged now – by policymakers, entrepreneurs, or other stakeholders – to help address physician shortages, high levels of maternal health need, or the ongoing opioid crisis?
- Where do broadband infrastructure gaps and poor health outcomes coincide – both at the national and county level – in order to better target and prioritize marketplace solutions and private sector investment?
What broadband and health data sources are used in the platform?
The fixed broadband data in the platform come from the Commission’s Form 477 data program that collects data on residential fixed broadband deployment and residential fixed Internet subscribership. Through Form 477, facilities-based broadband providers submitted information to the FCC about where they offer and have subscribers to Internet access services over 200 kilobits per second (kbps) in at least one direction. The broadband data in the platform were released in September 2020 and cover data submissions as of June 2019. The Commission calculates broadband access statistics using U.S. Census Bureau block-level population and household estimates data.
Maternal and opioid-related mortality data are from CDC WONDER —the Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research—an integrated information and communication system for public health developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The maternal mortality data are from 2018-2021. The severe maternal morbidity data come from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Fast Stats on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website and are from 2019. Opioid prescriptions data come from the CDC’s U.S. Opioid Dispensing Rate Maps. The chronic disease data are drawn from the 2021 release of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Initiative County Health Rankings & Roadmap program (which reflect data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Resources and Services Administration, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, American Medical Association, and other primary sources). Additional demographic data are from the U.S. Census Bureau, among other sources. Learn more about the data and methodology.
Why didn’t the FCC use the broadband data available from its new Broadband Data Collection Program?
The short answer is timing; however, the Task Force plans to update the platform to reflect the BDC Program data as soon as possible. For purposes of updating the platform to include maternal health data, the Task Force needed to use the most complete, publicly-available broadband data that includes both access and Internet adoption metrics from the same data year.
How do I download the complete dataset?
Broadband and Maternal Health
Broadband, Opioids and Chronic Disease
- Download Nationwide Data: JSON | XML| CSV
- Download All States: JSON | XML| CSV
- Download All Counties: JSON | XML | CSV
What methodology did the FCC use?
We gathered data from a variety of sources that survey and retain continually updated databases related to broadband and health. After compiling the data, we conducted exploratory data analysis to identify clusters and patterns within and across different variables. Our goal was to be able to translate patterns from the data into a geospatial representation, while offering a positive user experience. We hope that users will investigate their own questions about the state of broadband and health. Learn more about our methodology.
How often will the map be updated?
Our plan is to update the map periodically. The latest data update was made to the system in June 2023.
Why is the data at a county level as opposed to a city or neighborhood level?
We focus on counties for several reasons: (1) county level data is available across various health (e.g., maternal health, diabetes, obesity, preventable hospitalizations) and connectivity benchmarks, allowing apples to apples comparisons; (2) counties are a discrete geographic unit that can potentially drive broadband economies and local health policy; and (3) counties are the building blocks for publishing many types of data (e.g., economic) and for tracking progress and regional population and economic trends.
Which aspects of connectivity does the map track?
The platform uses data about residential broadband access (deployment) and Internet adoption (subscribership). Access is correlated to the FCC benchmark speeds of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. Internet adoption measures subscribership at 200 kbps. The platform also displays statistics on download and upload speeds as well as the percentage of population who have access to specified speed tiers (for some visualizations).
I’m having trouble using this map. Is there someone who can assist?
The Connect2HealthFCC Task Force welcomes your suggestions and feedback as we continue to refine and expand the Mapping Broadband Health in America platform. Please send questions or comments to engageC2H@fcc.gov, with “Mapping” in the subject line.