LightBox is thrilled by our recent feature on ZDNet, a top-tier tech publication. Our CEO, Eric Frank, sat down with reporter Tonya Hall to discuss the pertinence of broadband accessibility and mapping in the wake of COVID-19 and ways that LightBox is stepping up to mitigate the growing digital divide.
Key takeaways from the interview
- Access to broadband has become a poignant issue in the wake of COVID-19 as school, work, and medicine turn virtual. The digital divide is larger than ever before.
- LightBox’s geospatial mapping fabrication has enabled us to be involved in initiatives on the federal, state, and local levels to help identify true broadband accessibility across the US. Previous attempts have been made through census tracts which have been ineffective in pinpointing exactly where accessibility problems persist.
- Congress has passed the Broadband DATA Act which mandates the necessity for a comprehensive map that illustrates where broadband access exists and where it is lacking, but a lot of technology and funding is required to bring that goal to fruition. LightBox is equipping advocacy groups with data that can help.
How the COVID-19 pandemic is playing a role
Following the ZDNet interview, the topic of broadband accessibility has become even more pertinent in the United States and around the world. With the recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, schools that may have returned to in-person or hybrid models have plans to return back to a 100% distanced learning model.
Distance learning has turned the lack of internet connectivity into a national emergency, as children in Wi-Fi dead zones grapple with how to keep up. According to a study conducted by Common Sense Media in 2018, about 15 million K-12 students live in households that lack adequate online connection. Prior to the pandemic, a lack of connection was only a problem for completing homework assignments, but it now means that certain students cannot maintain attendance and are even more socially isolated from their peers.
LightBox can help
At LightBox, we like to use our data and technology to provide tools to help solve real-world problems. As the only commercial data provider who has produced an address fabric for a state to update its broadband maps, LightBox is uniquely positioned to help state governments for this purpose. For more information, contact us.
You can access the full interview here. For further reading on the COVID-19’s impacts on widening the digital divide, view our infographic below.