The Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) now offers on its website an array of maps that provide both information on broadband availability and health within the U.S. The agency suggests that policymakers and other interested parties can use these tools to better understand where gaps in connectivity and care exist, and access the potential connections between these two factors to formulate solutions.
This is part of the FCC’s Mapping Broadband Health in America initiative, which provides information at the county, state, and national-levels. Here’s a snapshot of what some of these maps cover and may indicate.
The baseline broadband map offers a visual account of the lack of high-speed internet access in the U.S. Thirty-four million Americans lack broadband benchmark speeds, according to the Broadband Progress Report. Yet the information accompanying this map says there are 1,682 broadband service providers nationwide, 90.2 percent of which offer fixed broadband, with 100 to 1,000mbps as the most common download data rates, and 15 to 25mbps as the most common upload rates.
Source (News - Alert): FCC baseline broadband map
Another of the maps shows how Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Oklahoma both have chronic disease statistics above the national average and that fixed broadband access in rural areas of these state are on average below 50 percent that of average rates in the U.S.
“This sample map shows the power of the mapping tool to identify clusters and potentially convene public-private partnerships, private sector collaborations, and focus policy efforts,” the FCC says.
The maps also feature more detailed information about diabetes, obesity, and preventable hospitalizations. Areas where diabetes is the most prevalent also have lower broadband access, the FCC points out.
There has been some work and a lot of discussion about how broadband connectivity and the Internet of Things can help improve the nation’s health care and general quality of life. Efforts on this front include leveraging videoconferencing for remote doctor visits, providing patients with connected devices so family and health care professionals can monitor their vital signs remotely, and leveraging the data from connected health care devices to better understand larger health trends.
Edited by Peter Bernstein