The city of Kansas City, MO has an ambitious vision: to connect all of its nearly 500,000 residents to the Internet. In the city’s eyes, connectivity is not valuable only for its own sake, but as a path towards many other critical goals, like improving education, reducing poverty, and promoting public health. “There’s a homework gap in schools,” explained Rick Usher, assistant to the city manager for small business. “If you get an assignment that you need to be online to complete and don’t have Internet at home, that’s going to be difficult.” The same goes for increasing uptake of city services, as Usher explained that the city is pushing many of its applications online. “Engaging communities through online tools only works if people are online,” he said. Even health outcomes can depend on connectivity, as the city pushes out critical public health messages online.
In order to help the city achieve its goal of ensuring access for all residents, the city’s innovation office sought to understand the current state of Internet connectivity across Kansas City’s neighborhoods. According the city’s chief innovation officer (CIO) Bob Bennett, Usher wanted to find a way to make this information readily accessible across the city to make digital inclusion more salient. In response, Bennett said “Let’s just put it on a map.”
The result of this vision was the KC Digital Inclusion Map, an interactive visualization of Internet speed across Kansas City—the latest winner of Harvard’s Map of the Month. The map overlays public FCC data on Internet service providers’ (ISP) highest advertised broadband rates with Census poverty data in order to uncover relationships between connectivity and poverty. The creators also included a real-time feed from regional transit that provides insights into resident access to faster broadband speeds via public transportation.
This visualization was chosen as Harvard’s Map of the Month for its ability to reveal insights on the far-reaching influence of Internet connectivity. By comparing broadband speeds and poverty data, the map shows a correlation between high-speed Internet and resident’s economic prospects, and displays this relationship in a striking UX.
Read the full article originally published by Chris Bousquet here.