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 enables data-driven decision making at the intersection of broadband and health.  The map was created to visualize key cross-currents in broadband and health data, as a valuable tool for both public and private stakeholders.  By allowing users to ask and answer questions about broadband and health in any county in the United States, the tool provides the data to drive broadband health policies and solutions for this critical space.

The mapping platform can be used in a myriad of ways—by federal, state and local agencies 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.

  • 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 tool 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 demonstrates the value proposition of broadband in health and builds on information the Connect2HealthFCC Task Force gathered in our Beyond the Beltway series of events around the country.  By allowing users to ask questions about both broadband and health in any county in the United States, the tool provides the data to drive broadband and health policies and solutions for this critical space.  By examining the relationship between connectivity and health at a local level, the map can help to identify current issues and develop future solutions to address connectivity gaps and promote positive health outcomes. 

How current is the data, on both broadband connectivity and health?

The June 2017 update to the platform includes annual fixed broadband data released in December 2016 and covers data submissions from the FCC Form 477 program as of December 2015.  Proportions for broadband access statistics are calculated using 2014 demographic data from GeoLytics, E. Brunswick, NJ.  The health data is drawn from the 2017 release of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings & Roadmap (which reflects data from the Health Resources and Services Administration, Dartmouth Atlas Project, American Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other primary sources); and additional demographic data is from the U.S. Census Bureau.

How do I download the complete dataset?

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 2017.

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, 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.

What health measures does the map track? Why were these particular health measures selected?

The map includes six health measures.  These correspond to several critical population health dimensions based on the model of population health used by RWJF’s County Health Rankings.

Health Dimension Health Measure
Health Behaviors Diabetes, Obesity, Poor/Fair Heath, Sick Days
Access to Care Primary Care Physician Access
Quality of Care Preventable Hospitalizations

 
 

 

 

 

According to public health experts, these health measures make up the components of a concept of health and can serve as precursors for other chronic conditions. These measures are regularly followed at the county level by the Centers for Disease Control and by county health departments to track population health over time.

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.

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 develop and refine the Mapping Broadband Health in America platform.  Please send questions or comments to engageC2H@fcc.gov, with “Mapping” in the subject line.

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Updated: 
Friday, March 18, 2016