In 2019 Roberto Gallardo and Benjamin St. Germain introduced a new metric related to digital inclusion called digital distress. Since then, we know of several organizations and communities that have used this metric for awareness and planning purposes. Today, the need for such a metric will only increase given the upcoming digital equity planning component in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) passed in late 2021. For this reason, we have tweaked the methodology and decided to offer a national interactive map using census tracts.
The inspiration for this digital distress metric came from well-known economic distress metrics that typically look at unemployment and income levels. However, a similar metric for digital distress was not available. Existing variables look primarily at broadband access and speed tests. While these have advantages and disadvantages, digital distress paints a different picture of the digital inclusion landscape.
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