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.

The Digital Equity Action Research (DEAR) Fellowship: A Participatory Action Research Project

DEAR CoverI am incredibly excited to announce the publication of our new report, titled “The Digital Equity Action Research (DEAR) Fellowship: A Participatory Action Research Project” published today by the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.

The report features essays from our amazing DEAR fellows and their hosts who participated in our six-city virtual fellowship program that began in November 2021 and wrapped up in January this year. As my colleagues from the Black Brilliance Research project and I describe in our introduction to the report up on the Benton Institute’s website today,

The DEAR Fellowship helped young adults, ages 19–24, learn participatory action research skills to examine and address the root causes of digital inequities in their communities…As part of this initiative, one organization in each of the six participating cities—Baltimore; Boston; Cleveland; Long Beach, California; San Antonio; and Seattle—took part in the fellowship and hosted one DEAR Fellow.

The end goal of the fellowship was to increase the skills and capacity of the DEAR Fellows and their communities and to identify and address the root causes of digital inequities while learning from peers around the United States. The fellows learned new participatory action research skills, an approach that brings together advocacy and research methods to create change with those closest to the problems in community settings.

During our short time together, we had an incredible opportunity not only to learn from one another, we met with Federal Communications Commissioner Geoffrey Starks’s office during a Zoom meeting pictured below. The DEAR Fellows shared what learned during the fellowship and asked Commissioner Starks and his wonderful team questions related to digital equity policy.


I feel incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to work with Shaun Glaze, Chris Webb, Sabrina Roach, and my colleague Malana Krongelb on this amazing fellowship program. As I wrote in the “Afterword” in the DEAR Fellowship report,

As states develop their Digital Equity Plans so they can qualify for digital equity funding from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, my hope is that the stories and examples found in this publication offer both guidance and inspiration for what’s possible when community members have a seat at the table. This participation not only benefits communities most impacted by the digital divide, it is also a requirement in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Next Century Cities Virtual Event: Baltimore’s Broadband Movement

Baltimore's Broadband MomentToday at 2:00pm Eastern Time, Next Century Cities will host the following event, titled “Baltimore’s Broadband Movement : A Virtual Event with Community Leadership.”

I look forward to joining these amazing leaders: Jason Hardebeck, Mayor’s Office of Broadband and Digital Equity, William Wells, Executive Director and Founder, aSTEAM Village and Digital KC Now, and Michell Morton, Broadband Program Specialist and Federal Program Officer, National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

During the event, I will discuss findings from my case study, titled “The Digital Equity Leadership Lab: A Case Study of Community Leadership Development to Promote Digital Equity and Justice” for the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation published earlier this year. Other cities and states planning to receive federal Digital Equity Grant funds will benefit from learning more about the City of Baltimore’s work to promote digital equity and digital justice.

Here is the description of the event:

“Unprecedented federal and state funding programs have changed broadband possibilities for communities nationwide. In Baltimore, a city where almost one and three residents face barriers to reliable, high-speed connectivity, broadband investments could help to revitalize communities that have been overlooked or excluded from the digital economy.

Join us for a conversation with local leaders who are developing ways to bring digital opportunities within reach for every Baltimore resident and the community organizers that make connectivity goals a reality.”

Here is a link to my presentation slides.