Measuring the Broadband Divide using Big Data

Venue: Ganges Room, 1st Floor, Arthur Lewis Building, The University of Manchester

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Centre For Development Informatics Lecture Series (UoM only)

Measuring the Broadband Divide Using Big Data

Alfonso River-Illingworth, The University of Manchester 

The intersection of the digital divide and big data is changing the way we conceptualise and measure the divide. Big data can make it quicker, cheaper and easier to undertake digital divide measurement; and can offer new insights into digital inequalities.  But it can also create new challenges related to access and technical capacity to analyse big data.

This work-in-progress presentation describes how big data can be used for measuring the broadband divide, given broadband’s increasingly central role in development. Using a crowdsourced dataset that measures the speed of fixed and mobile broadband connections around the world this research identifies a divide between developed, developing, and least developed countries. This case shows how big data can be used as a substitute for traditional data sources and to measure new aspects of the broadband divide. In addition, this presentation highlights the limitations of using big data to measure the digital divide.