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Blog // Connect Ohio

FCC Releases Broadband and Health Interactive Mapping Tool

By Amanda Murphy

The Federal Communications Commission’s Connect2Health Task Force has launched a broadband and health interactive map. The new tool, titled Mapping Broadband Health in America, allows users to analyze broadband and health data visually, and at a national, state, and county level. The map is intended for use by both public and private sectors, and local communities, as a tool to drive discussion, to identify opportunities and gaps in connectivity and health care, and to assist broadband health policies and digital health solutions.

Users have the ability to generate customized maps that display broadband access, adoption, and speeds along with various health data, such as obesity, diabetes, physician access, sick days, and preventable hospital visits for urban and rural areas. Other demographics that can be customized on the map include age, education, and unemployment.   

“The release of this new tool, allowing users to create customized interactive maps and download data into their own GIS systems, is essential in identifying patterns and relationships that might not be seen without location-based mapping,” said Ashley Littell Hitt, Director of GIS Services for Connected Nation. “Local communities are now better equipped to make more informed decisions about the areas that need the most focus for improvements.”

Sample maps, which have already been created and are available for viewing, are available at www.fcc.gov/health/maps. These give users an illustration for current intersections of broadband and health in the U.S., depicting broadband gaps, broadband and health double burden areas, broadband and chronic disease, and broadband and preventable hospitalizations. 

According to the FCC news release, initial findings from the Mapping Broadband Health in America tool are:

·       The picture of health is vastly different in connected communities vs. digitally isolated communities.  This holds true across access to care, quality of care, and health outcome metrics.  For example, obesity prevalence is 25 percent higher and diabetes prevalence is 35 percent higher in these counties (i.e., where 60 percent of households lack access to broadband and over 60 percent lack basic Internet connections at home).

·       There is a significant gap between rural and urban counties. Almost 60 percent of rural Americans live in counties that have high burdens of chronic disease as well as a need for greater broadband connectivity, while less than 5 percent of urban America falls into the same category.

The Mapping Broadband Health in America tool is part of a broader effort by the Connect2HealthFCC Task Force to chart the broadband future of health and care. More information on the initiative can be found at www.fcc.gov/health/maps. Connect2Health plans to offer a free webinar training series this fall. Dates and registration information have not yet been announced.

Access the mapping tool at www.fcc.gov/health/maps.

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