University of Chicago – Mapping and Mitigating the Urban Digital Divide

Cities and Towns

17. University of Chicago
A woman travels locally in Chicago, Illinois using her mobile device.

University of Chicago, Center for Data and Computing (CDAC)

KidsFirst Chicago; City Tech Collaborative

United States

Educational and economic opportunities depend on affordable, high-speed Internet access. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated and magnified these existing disparities, even within the same city.

The University of Chicago will pilot a project to study fiber connectivity, broadband throughput, application performance metrics, pricing data, and information about subscriptions/affordability to understand communities in Chicago’s access to affordable, high-speed internet. The team will then work with technical and civic partners to design and evaluate new network architectures for improving connectivity in neighborhoods and regions that are sparsely connected. The project’s goal is to create a complete assessment of a city’s broadband infrastructure that can be used to investigate innovative infrastructure solutions, raise awareness about this critical issue, and empower policymakers, industry leaders, and the public to make better and more informed decisions. If successful, this project will have a tremendous impact on Chicago communities and could be scaled to cities and towns across the United States.