Digital Equity Ecosystems Measurement Framework

Digital Equity Ecosystems Measurement Framework Report

The Digital Equity Research Center at the Metropolitan New York Library Council published a new report today, titled “Digital Equity Ecosystems Measurement Framework” which I co-authored with my wonderful colleague Dr. Rafi Santo, Principal Researcher at Telos Learning.

As our press release explains,

The report presents findings from a participatory research project with thirty-two digital equity and digital justice coalition leaders from across the United States, who contributed their ideas to inform the Digital Equity Ecosystems Measurement (DEEM) framework.

This initiative responds to a broader need within the digital equity field for conceptual frameworks and measurement tools to assist local coalitions in gathering data for planning, improvement, and advocacy purposes.

At the end of the report, we provide a list of recommendations for the following stakeholder groups who we believe could benefit from the report’s findings: state broadband and digital equity offices, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, philanthropic organizations, academic researchers, and community members.

I am incredibly grateful to Rafi Santo for his brilliant insights, which played an enormous role in developing and shaping the outcomes from this project. Thanks also to the National Digital Inclusion Alliance for their collaboration and support.

I am also grateful to Nate Hill, Executive Director of METRO for his support, as well as to the following individuals for their additional assistance and support: Davis Erin Anderson, Meghan McDermott, Angela Siefer, Aaron Schill, Kathy Fall, Houman Saberi, Leon Wilson, Lauren Moore, Lynn Thurston, Munirih Jester, Bruce Clark, Chrissie Powell, Rebecca Gibbon, Hillary Kolos, and Aaron Deacon.

Many thanks also to Tony Murray who did an amazing job designing the report.

The Digital Equity Ecosystems Measurement Framework report is supported with federal American Rescue Plan Act funds allocated to the New York State Library by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN) Nodes

CIRNDuring the closing session, titled “Drawing it all together; conference statements; 2023” at this year’s 20th Annual CIRN conference, attendees discussed their ideas about how we might continue the energy from the annual conference and stay more connected to and engaged with one another throughout the year. Larry Stillman from Monash University also asked if others in the room might be interested in helping to organize next year’s conference.

As I thought about the comments from participants in the room, during this final session, and how CIRN might best move itself forward as a network – rather than as a formal organization – an idea came to mind. What if CIRN built on its strength as a truly distributed model to support the development of more informal, ad hoc “network nodes” in locations around the world?

NetworkIn other words, what if CIRN nodes could provide a more distributed network organizing model to allow groups in different parts of the world to work together and stay connected in between the annual conferences?

In the meantime, I offered to help establish a new CIRN listserv hosted by the Metropolitan New York Library Council to help engage those who attended this year’s conference and others who have been involved in past conferences.

I look forward to helping to support the next 20 years of this wonderful CIRN community through this idea of the Community Informatics Research Network Nodes organizing model.

(Photo above by Noah Sussman available via a Creative Commons license on Flickr)

Joining The Quello Center at Michigan State University

Quello CenterI’m thrilled to announce that I am joining The Quello Center at Michigan State University as a Research Fellow. I have been a huge fan of The Quello Center’s work for many years, and I’ve also had the opportunity to work closely with several members of The Quello Center community.

I look forward to supporting the center’s broadband and digital inclusion work through my own research on digital equity ecosystems. I am particularly interested in investigating the role of research and education networks (RENs) in helping to advance digital equity either directly or indirectly through their work supporting anchor institutions in communities across the United States.

New Article in Information Technology and Libraries

Information Technology and Libraries

My colleagues, Chris Ritzo, Jie Jiang, and I have a new article, titled “Measuring Library Broadband Networks to Address Knowledge Gaps and Data Caps” that was just published in the journal, Information Technology and Libraries. The journal is part of the American Library Association’s Core: Leadership, Infrastructures, Futures division.

Here is the abstract for the paper from the journal website:

“In this paper, we present findings from a three-year research project funded by the US Institute of Museum and Library Services that examined how advanced broadband measurement capabilities can support the infrastructure and services needed to respond to the digital demands of public library users across the US. Previous studies have identified the ongoing broadband challenges of public libraries while also highlighting the increasing digital expectations of their patrons. However, few large-scale research efforts have collected automated, longitudinal measurement data on library broadband speeds and quality of service at a local, granular level inside public libraries over time, including when buildings are closed. This research seeks to address this gap in the literature through the following research question: How can public libraries utilize broadband measurement tools to develop a better understanding of the broadband speeds and quality of service that public libraries receive? In response, quantitative measurement data were gathered from an open-source broadband measurement system that was both developed for the research and deployed at 30 public libraries across the US. Findings from our analysis of the data revealed that Ookla measurements over time can confirm when the library’s internet connection matches expected service levels and when they do not. When measurements are not consistent with expected service levels, libraries can observe the differences and correlate this with additional local information about the causes. Ongoing measurements conducted by the library enable local control and monitoring of this vital service and support critique and interrogation of the differences between internet measurement platforms. In addition, we learned that speed tests are useful for examining these trends but are only a small part of assessing an internet connection and how well it can be used for specific purposes. These findings have implications for state library agencies and federal policymakers interested in having access to data on observed versus advertised speeds and quality of service of public library broadband connections nationwide.”

The paper is available for download on the journal’s website.


Digital Equity Ecosystems Measurement Project

On June 10th, my colleague Dr. Rafi Santo and I participated in the New York State Library’s Digital Equity Roundtable conversation with the following speakers: Nuha Saho, Vicky Yuki, and Alexis Bhagat, Work of the Friends & Foundation of Albany Public Library (FFAPL), funded by the New York Digital Inclusion Fund and Mike Rogers, TechKnowledgeMe. The event was moderated by New York State Librarian, Lauren Moore.

During our presentation, we shared our Digital Equity Ecosystems Measurement project to develop a conceptual framework and an open set of tools to assist local coalitions in measuring the outcomes and impacts of their work to advance digital inclusion, equity, and justice.

Our presentation begins at 24:00 minutes into the video, which is also available online here.

In October, the Digital Equity Research Center at the Metropolitan New York Library Council will publish a white paper with findings from our research, including our participatory design workshops, this year with digital inclusion, digital equity, and digital justice practitioners across the U.S. We hope that this framework and sample tools will be helpful not only to local coalitions, but also to state digital equity offices as state’s across the country begin their state digital equity planning as part of the NTIA’s Digital Equity Grant Programs.