FCC to fight digital health divide with broadband mapping tool

An interactive broadband mapping tool created by the Federal Communications Commission will help ensure a lack of connectivity is no longer “a super-determinant of health,” according to FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn.

The tool, unveiled Tuesday by the FCC’s Connect2Health Task Force, “promises to provide a new and powerful roadmap for stakeholders, to leverage high-speed connectivity to improve the health of our nation,” Clyburn said.

She added that it will help in finding not just gaps, but also opportunities. It will empower both the private and public sectors to “construct bridges at the intersection of broadband and health precisely where they are needed,” Clyburn said.

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The Mapping Broadband Health in America tool will show broadband connectivity and how it relates to health in all states and counties in the U.S., according to an announcement. It allows users to create maps that show access, adoption and speed next to health measures including obesity, diabetes and more.

Through use of the tool, the FCC already has gathered data to identify counties that have a “critical need” for better broadband. They split the counties into two categories: the Priority 100, for which all U.S. counties were considered, and the Rural 100, for which only counties with majority rural populations were considered. The lists of those counties can be found on the FCC’s website, and Clyburn said she hopes that information will “catalyze action and provide a roadmap for private investment and coordinated public support to follow.”

Many of the counties on the lists average 8 percent fixed broadband access, have a 34 percent higher diabetes prevalence and a 24 percent higher obesity prevalence than the national average, Clyburn pointed out.

To learn more:
- check out the tool 
- read Clyburn's statement
- here's the announcement