TPRC49 Presentation on MLBN Research


Chris Ritzo (M-Lab) and I presented our paper, titled “Measuring Library Broadband Networks to Address Knowledge Gaps and Data Caps” to the attendees at the 49th Annual Research Conference on Communications, Information, and Internet Policy, which was virtual again this year. The paper presents findings from our U.S Institute of Museum and Library Services funded research project to develop an open source broadband measurement system with and for public libraries across the U.S.

Here is the abstract from the paper:

“In this paper, we present findings from a three-year research project 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 U.S. 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 and training materials to develop a better understanding of the relationship between library network infrastructure and digital services? In response, qualitative data were gathered through interviews with public librarians, IT network administrators, focus groups with patrons, and field site observations at 10 public libraries across the U.S. during the first year of the research. Additional interviews with public librarians and IT administrators were conducted during a UX design process, which helped to inform the development of an open source, broadband measurement system with and for public libraries during year two of the research. Quantitative measurement data using this system, which was deployed at 30 public libraries across the U.S., were then collected for our study.

Findings from our analysis of the qualitative and quantitative data reveal gaps in understanding between the perceptions of public librarians regarding their library broadband capacity and the actual performance of their broadband networks. While our study participants reported a need for broadband measurement data in their public libraries to justify infrastructure upgrades and improve communication with patrons, our results confirm that having access to data would also address knowledge gaps regarding the actual public library broadband usage and capacity needed to serve their communities digital demands. 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 presentation slides are available for download here via ResearchGate.

National Tribal Broadband Summit

I am honored to participate today in the National Tribal Broadband Summit hosted by the U.S. Department of the Interior. On behalf of our team, I am presenting an overview of our participatory action research project, titled “Improving Digital Inclusion and Broadband Infrastructure in Native Communities” funded by a grant from the U.S Institute of Museum and Library Services (award #LG-250043-OLS-21).

Today, I am joining my colleague, Carson Block and our session, titled “Measurements and Tools: The Ways in Which IMLS Supports Innovations for Tribal Libraries and Librarians” is being moderated by James Neal, Senior Library Program Officer at IMLS.

I’ve uploaded a copy of my presentation slides, which can be downloaded here.

Improving Digital Inclusion and Broadband Infrastructure in Native Communities

IMLS logo

I am incredibly honored and excited to announce that our Community Informatics Lab at Simmons University has received a two-year grant (award #LG-250043-OLS-21) from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to work with the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums.

Here is the description of the project that is available on the IMLS website:

“Simmons University, together with the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums, will examine how a participatory community informatics approach, guided by Indigenous ways of knowing about technology and an affirmation of tribal sovereignty, can support the digital inclusion and broadband infrastructure needs and aspirations of tribal libraries. The research team will work with tribal libraries to co-design the following: an update to the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums’ 2014 report, ‘Digital Inclusion in Native Communities: The Role of Tribal Libraries’; a Digital Inclusion Lab ‘how-to’ guide for Tribal libraries; and a final report with findings from the research. The project also will gather broadband measurement data to inform federal information policies aimed at improving digital inclusion and broadband infrastructure in Tribal libraries.”

Follow updates about the project on our CI Lab website.

Next Century Cities Presentation

Next Century Cities‘ Brittany-Rae Gregory organized an amazing group of scholars to participate in their Academic Pre-Conference event on July 20. I was incredibly honored to be part of this panel, which consisted of the following folks: Mike Conlow (Blue State Digital); Darrah Blackwater (Indigenous Law & Policy Fellow); Brian Whitacre (Oklahoma State University) and Dominique Harrison (Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies).

Here is the link to my presentation on “Digital Equity Ecosystems.” The link to the complete video from the Academic Pre-Conference Session is available on YouTube.

Coalitions and Digital Equity Planning

It was wonderful to be part of this year’s Net Inclusion Webinar Series, which took the place of this year’s Net Inclusion Annual Summit. On April 21st, NDIA hosted the webinar,  “Coalitions and Digital Equity Planning” moderated by amalia deloney of the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation with speakers Curt Williams (Cleveland Foundation), Sharonne Navas, (Equity in Education Coalition), Aaron Schill (Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission) and me.

The webinar will be of interest to those looking to start a digital equity coalition in their community or for those coalitions interested in learning more about what other communities are doing to promote digital equity during the pandemic and beyond.

To learn more about our research mentioned in the webinar, please visit our report titled “Growing Healthy Digital Equity Ecosystems During COVID-19 and Beyond” which was published by the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society in November, 2020.