Digital Inclusion Research Forum on Oct. 12-13

Federal Reserve Bank of DallasThe Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta, Dallas, Kansas City and Philadelphia seek proposals for presentation at the Digital Inclusion Research Forum, to be held in Dallas, Texas, Oct. 12-13. The proposal deadline is July 21.

I am honored to serve on the advisory committee for the research forum.

Feel free to share this call for presentations with people who may be interested in submitting a proposal.

Forum objectives

The conference will provide:

  1. A framework for existing research
  2. Relevant context and appropriate applications for using existing research
  3. A forum for informing and advancing new research

 Forum audience

  1. Academics and researchers
  2. Broadband and digital inclusion policymakers (including state broadband and digital equity staff)
  3. Digital inclusion practitioners

The organizers are especially interested in these subtopics.

While the organizers will consider presentations across a range of subtopics related to digital inclusion, they are especially interested in presentations on the following ten subtopics.

  1. Existing research related to broadband and digital access among marginalized populations: Rural, urban communities, African American, Latino, Native American, etc.
  2. Considerations in conducting culturally informed research when working with marginalized populations
  3. Digital skills development across varying skill levels
  4. How research can better serve the needs of practitioners (from a practitioner’s perspective)
  5. Fundamentals of what practitioners should know about data collection, data availability, and measuring outcomes (from a research perspective)
  6. Integrating digital inclusion efforts into existing non-profit and government services
  7. Measuring the economic impact of broadband access and/or digital inclusion initiatives
  8. Qualitative data use in digital inclusion research
  9. Data opportunities and limitations, leveraging existing DI measurement tools and indices
  10. Research regarding program evaluation

 How to submit a proposal and what to include

 You may submit your proposal here. Joint submissions for co-presentations are welcome. The proposal deadline is July 21.

Proposals should convey how the session will support the conference objectives. Selection is competitive, so be sure to submit a compelling proposal within the 500-word limit.

Organizers will review and accept proposals on a rolling basis. We will extend invitations to present in early August. Those invited to present will receive a modest honorarium and reimbursement of reasonable travel costs.

Questions? Please contact Theresa Dunne, Community Development Research Analyst.

New Working Paper: The Digital Opportunities Compass

Digital Opportunities CompassAs states across the U.S. develop their digital equity plans this year, as part of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s BEAD and DEA grant programs, a comprehensive and holistic framework is needed to evaluate the outcomes and impacts of these federal investments to advance digital equity in the years to come.

In response, my colleagues and I have developed a working paper, titled “The Digital Opportunities Compass: Metrics to Monitor, Evaluate, and Guide Broadband and Digital Equity Policy.” The paper was published yesterday by the Quello Center for Media and Information Policy at Michigan State University, where I am a Research Fellow.

Here is a snippet from the Executive Summary of the report:

This working paper introduces a measurement framework to guide state and local policy in the United States at a moment of unprecedented investment in broadband infrastructure and digital equity nationwide. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (IIJA), together with the Digital Equity Act (DEA) included in IIJA, allocated 65 billion dollars to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable, high speed internet service–a prerequisite to achieve broader outcomes, such as ‘economic success, educational achievement, positive health outcomes, social inclusion, and civic engagement.’

The IIJA includes five categories of measurable objectives to assist states in documenting and promoting: (1) the availability of, and affordability of access to, fixed and wireless broadband technology; (2) the online accessibility and inclusivity of public resources and services; (3) digital literacy; (4) awareness of, and the use of, measures to secure the online privacy of, and cybersecurity with respect to, an individual; and (5) the availability and affordability of consumer devices and technical support for those devices. The law is explicit in its goal to ensure that covered populations, or those most impacted by digital inequalities, benefit from these efforts.

The ‘Digital Opportunities Compass’ framework builds on these core metrics and expands them in important ways. It builds on over 25 years of research and experience related to how broadband and device access, affordability, and digital skills relate to digital equity and broader social and development outcomes. This body or experience suggests that digital equity can be achieved more sustainably if the entire broadband ecosystem is considered. The framework is intended to assist stakeholders interested in metrics to monitor, evaluate, and guide broadband and digital equity policy now and in the future.”

Download the full report on the Quello Center’s website.

Update on February, 28, 2023: The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society has published our overview of the report, titled “Digital Opportunities Compass” on their Digital Beat blog.

Missing Pieces: How the FCC’s Broadband Map Misrepresents Public Libraries

SHLB Coalition

Back in December, I responded to an open invitation from John Windhausen, Executive Director of the Schools, Health, & Libraries Broadband  (SHLB) Coalition, during the monthly SHLB Coalition member policy call, to take a closer look at how the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Broadband Map represents community anchor institutions (CAIs). I thought this would be a great opportunity to look at how public libraries are represented on the map and to help make sure public libraries, and other anchor institutions, have the opportunity to receive funding through the NTIA’s Broadband and Digital Equity grant programs.

This week, the SHLB Coalition and the American Library Association submitted an ex parte filing with information about our meeting on Monday with FCC staff. Attached to this filing was my report, titled “Missing Pieces: How the FCC’s Broadband Map Misrepresents Public Libraries.” Here is the abstract from the paper:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently released a “pre-production” draft of their National Broadband Map in an effort to provide more precise details about where internet service does and does not exist in individual locations across the U.S. While much attention has been paid to how the map represents broadband service for individual households, there is much less understanding among the general public with regards to how the map represents individual community anchor institutions, such as public schools, libraries, and hospitals. In an effort to address this gap in public understanding, and to help contribute to improving the FCC’s Broadband Map overall, this paper presents findings from a study of 200 public libraries in 20 states across the U.S. to gain a better understanding of the following: (1) whether public libraries are classified as “broadband serviceable” or not; (2) whether public library buildings are classified as “residential” or not; and (3) the level of service that public library buildings receive in individual locations. The findings from this study raise important questions about whether the FCC’s current process allows for public challenges to correct these mis-classifications. Recommendations are provided at the end of this report to help ensure that the map helps to address the broadband needs of community anchor institutions across the country. Methodology This section describes the overall approach and methods used for the study.

I hope that the ex parte filing and the report itself is helpful to public libraries and those working to ensure that the NTIA’s broadband and digital equity grant programs respond to what is required by law in H.R.3684 – Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The DERC is Hiring a Program Manager!

DERC logo black

The Digital Equity Research Center (DERC) at the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) seeks a strategic thinker, team builder, and thoughtful planner to help build the DERC as a new department at METRO, together with METRO staff and our advisory board.

The Program Manager will be responsible for overseeing all of the program management activities and research outputs of the DERC. The DERC strives to be asset based, power aware, respect focused, and justice centered. The individual in this position will apply these principles in their work to support the Center and the communities with whom we work.

An ideal applicant will have demonstrated experience and expertise in at least one, and preferably more, of the following categories: project management; supervision of employees and external consultants; handling daily staff assignments; planning and administering budgets; tracking program expenses; and report writing. Experience working in an academic research setting is preferred, but not required. The categories the candidate lacks experience in should be areas they are interested in developing. This work requires excellent listening, facilitation, and collaboration skills.


The Program Manager will oversee the development, implementation, and successful completion of new and existing research projects. They will help to build a culture of research excellence rooted in the principles and values of both the DERC and METRO.

The most immediate work will require working collaboratively with DERC’s Director and METRO staff to:

  • Establish objectives, negotiate contracts, and estimate costs for new projects
  • Plan project schedules, direct tasks, and oversee existing projects
  • Manage awarded grants by following expectations of funders
  • Monitor technical issues and guide projects to completion
  • Prepare reports in completion of existing projects

Additional responsibilities may include assisting DERC’s Director to:

  • Develop successful research grant proposals
  • Oversee research activities often in collaboration with other partners
  • Review white papers and academic articles
  • Co-present research at academic and practitioner conferences

The Program Manager will also have an opportunity to bring their own expertise and knowledge to help design, develop, and implement new program areas that advance the mission of the DERC.

This is a fully remote position; there is no residency requirement. Some travel may be required, occasionally for conferences or special events.

We welcome, embrace, encourage, and respect diversity of people, genders, identities, languages, and cultures. Our team is deeply committed to nurturing an organizational culture of respect, equity, and belonging.

Compensation for this position is $75,000/year at 35 hours/week and includes a generous benefits package. METRO is an equal opportunity employer. Read our code of conduct here.

How To Apply

Please send a resume and a cover letter to The deadline to apply is Monday, January 30th at 12pm Eastern Time.

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.