Crowdsourced data is beginning to paint a picture of Louisville’s internet infrastructure, neighborhood by neighborhood. But the only way for organizations seeking to improve or add internet service in town to really drill down is for as many people as possible to participate.
That’s where the SpeedUpLouisville project comes in. At the 84th annual United States Conference of Mayors, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer participated in a “Shark Tank”-style pitch, in which mayors presented new applications created in their city. He pitched SpeedUpLouisville.
“Everybody should have access to broadband and broadband speeds in your city,” Fischer said. “You’ve got to have great digital infrastructure to increase socioeconomic mobility in our cities.”
He explained that in areas that are financially strapped, internet presence and speeds would likely be at their worst. This leaves children at a disadvantage in doing homework. Fischer said 80 percent of job applications are also online.
But how do you measure who has good internet and who has bad internet when quality can vary from block to block?
You crowdsource it.
So on March 4, hackers at a civic hackathon, including members from PowerUp Labs, Civic Data Alliance, LVL1, and OPI2’s Innovation Team, worked to create SpeedUpLouisville. This site allows you to track your internet speed, enter your monthly fees and post all of that on a heat map. The data give people researching ways to bring new and better internet to all the city’s neighborhoods more information about what exists and where.
In the video, Fischer called this “How to crowdsource data to improve life for your citizens.”
“When making a purchase decision, you can’t find this kind of information (there is no Carfax for internet providers) — so everyone gets different deals, and no one knows what they are buying,” said Eric Littleton of PowerUp Labs, the company that helped create and maintain the site.
The crowdsourced data, minimal though it is right now, already shows a digital divide. There are areas of Louisville with unequal levels of service.
Service is pretty crummy in a lot of places; almost one in five people reported having a download speed slower than 5 Mbps at their home and 59 percent said they had a speed slower than 25 Mbps.
Some 73 percent of respondents use Time-Warner Cable to get online; the majority of the rest use AT&T. AT&T is more expensive when monthly payments are broken down by cost per Mbps, and satisfaction ratings are much lower with AT&T, according to the data.
In the end, though, only 2,600 Louisvillians have uploaded their speeds and costs to SpeedUpLouisville. In fact, there are neighborhoods in which only three or four people have participated in the crowdsourcing efforts. Add your computer’s speed data to the heat map here.
“We now have a road map for digital equity work that we could never have done this cost-effectively before,” Ted Smith, the chief innovation officer of Louisville, told IL.
Here’s the mayor’s pitch: