This research project seeks to map inequities in broadband infrastructure and digital skills in greater Los Angeles, and explore their socio-economic determinants and consequences. By mapping the spatial distribution of broadband access and use at the most disaggregated level available, the project seeks to offer a comprehensive diagnosis that will inform current policy initiatives and debates. Theoretically, it will shed light onto how inequalities in connectivity infrastructure both shape and reflect differences in ICT-related skills as well as other demographic factors at the local community level.
The project will take advantage of two existing datasets which, to our knowledge, have not been combined in previous research. The first is the California Broadband Map, which contains disaggregated information about broadband supply (by technology and speed) for the City of Los Angeles. The second is the American Community Survey, which provides household-based estimates for large U.S. cities on a range of key socio-economic variables, including Internet adoption and use. In addition, an ad-hoc ICT skills and use survey will be administered to selected communities, thus adding a third data layer for mapping and analyzing the interactions between broadband infrastructure, demographic and human capital factors.
This initiative is a part of a larger research consortium that is undertaking similar efforts in large metropolises around the world, including Shanghai, New York, London, São Paulo, Santiago de Chile, and Sydney. The consortium partners are committed to replicating research methods and instruments across cities, despite variations in data availability and levels of disaggregation. This comparative perspective will further enhance the value of the results obtained for municipal policymakers and researchers alike.