After two and a half years, I am incredibly excited to announce that we have successfully launched our broadband measurement system with and for public libraries across the U.S.!
Thanks to a grant (award #LG-71-18-0110-18) from the U.S. Institute for Museum and Library Services, and in partnership with Measurement Lab (M-Lab) and Internet2, our Measuring Library Broadband Networks (MLBN) research initiative has launched our open source broadband measurement system that public libraries can use to measure the speeds and quality of service of their broadband internet connections.
Here is a snippet from our new blog post, written by Chris Ritzo (M-Lab) announcing our broadband measurement system:
As we close out the calendar year, we’re focused on that future where we can measure and understand broadband access and quality using a variety of measurement tools. We’ve invited our participating libraries to review their test data in Murakami-Viz, and look forward to their feedback on it and our program in general in the coming year. M-Lab is continuing to develop Murakami as a tool that enables structured data collection using our platform, as well as using other measurement initiatives and tests.
We believe this announcement is timely given this week’s press release from the U.S. Senate announcing provisions for broadband in the Bipartisan COVID-19 Emergency Relief Act of 2020 with emergency assistance for community anchor institutions and connectivity.
For public libraries interested in gathering real-time and longitudinal data on the speeds and quality of service of their broadband internet connections, please visit our project website to learn more about how communities can participate in this open source broadband measurement initiative.
On behalf of our MLBN team, I want to thank our partners, including the many public libraries from across the country that offered their time and insights to help inform the development and implementation of our project.
Stay tuned for more project updates and our final evaluation on our MLBN project website.
In the report, my co-author, Susan Kennedy and I present findings from a survey of individuals representing a diverse group of organizations across the United States that have self-identified as being part of either a formal, informal, or emerging digital inclusion coalition. The purpose of their study was to better understand the role these coalitions have played in supporting what they are calling “digital equity ecosystems” in their communities during the challenges of the pandemic.
In our Digital Beat blog post announcing the report, Susan and I argued that based on our report, “we believe there are several federal policy recommendations that we can make moving forward. On their transition-team website, President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris have made it a priority to promote universal broadband. In order to achieve this goal, we argue that the new administration must connect its economic recovery agenda to its work to promote racial equity.”
We conclude the post by sharing the following four steps that the new administration should take to make their economic recovery and racial equity priorities a reality:
Make broadband affordable for low-income communities of color.
Support second chances for economic success through digital literacy programs.
Ensure care workers receive training and support to help promote digital and racial equity.
Make federal funding opportunities available for digital inclusion organizations.
Read the full descriptions of each recommendations in our full blog post on the Benton Institute for Internet & Society’s website.
Digital Equity Ecosystems are interactions between individuals, populations, communities, and their larger sociotechnical environments that all play a role in shaping the digital inclusion work in local communities to promote more equitable access to technology and social and racial justice.
Our research in this area seeks to understand the impact of COVID-19 on individuals and families without household internet access and how digital inclusion coalitions across the nation have responded in turn. The goal of the study is to provide data and evidence to help local, state, and federal policymakers in the U.S. develop more effective digital equity strategies nationwide.
Findings from the study will also be useful for key stakeholders working to promote economic and racial justice in communities struggling with poverty during COVID-19 and after the pandemic ends. This is because, as we know from scholars such as Seeta Peña Gangadharan, Chris Gilliard, Virginia Eubanks, and many others who have noted that, the digital divide is rooted in systemic injustices and structural inequalities in our society. Therefore, we are keenly focused on the social, rather than the technological, solutions to digital inequality. We believe that a social ecological approach using participatory methods rooted in community knowledge and expertise is the pathway forward in this approach.
The annual Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN) conference hosted at the Monash University Prato Centre in Italy has been postponed this year due to COVID-19. In its place, we have organized CIRN Virtual Webinar Series which you are invited to attend. The events are being organized by a team from the Digital Equity Group at Monash University (Australia) and the Comunity Informatics Lab at Simmons University (USA).
Registration is free and a zoom link will be provided. Speakers will be participating from around the globe. Here is the list of online seminars taking place from October 19, 2021 to November 16, 2020:
The Informatics of Community Mutual Aid on October 19, 2020 9PM US EST (1AM GMT)
ICT4D beyond ICT on October 26, 2020 US 4AM EST (8AM GMT)
Indigenous Archives Collective on November 2, 2020 12PM EST (4PM GMT)
Globalization, Power, and Community Empowerment in Pandemic Times on Nov 9, 2020 (3PM GMT)
Memorialization, Digital Media and the State November 16, 2020 *time tbd
“This initiative will critically investigate the social impact of digital technologies on communities and the broader public good. It will create new paradigms for the public to understand the harms of tech platforms, predictive technologies, advertising-driven algorithmic content, and the work of digital laborers.”
I am excited and incredibly humbled to announce that I have been invited to join the Scholars’ Council at the Center with a number of amazing “scholars, artists, activists and leaders who share a commitment to standing up to unjust technologies and systems. As such, they are an integral part of our growing community and represent the breadth and depth of the work we can do together.”