University of Chicago computer science team receives US$1.2 million to map the digital divide in Chicago

The University of Chicago received a US$1.2 million grant from to develop a map of the digital divide in Chicago through collecting new, fine-grained data on: internet access and performance in thousands of Chicago households, physical infrastructure of internet service to those neighbourhoods, and human factors such as affordability, digital skills, and usage for education and employment services. The project aims at identifying gaps in digital infrastructure, from the lack of cable or fiber connectivity to spotty video streaming. It will also develop a toolkit to support informed decisions vis-à-vis how to effectively narrow the digital divide. The project, which will be kicked off with a special focus on several Chicago communities, is envisaged to be eventually be scaled up across the entire city and replicated in other cities and communities. ‘This project will foster inclusive growth, recovery, and resilience by ensuring that digital connectivity resources and the opportunities they provide are available to everyone; particularly underserved communities, where the lack of digital connectivity further amplifies many existing inequities. An important step will be to make sure we really understand the nature of the problem,’ explained University of Chicago professor Nick Feamster.