The Digital Divide Index or DDI ranges in value from 0 to 100, where 100 indicates the highest digital divide. It is composed of two scores, also ranging from 0 to 100: the infrastructure/adoption (INFA) score and the socioeconomic (SE) score.
The INFA score groups five variables related to broadband infrastructure and adoption: (1) percentage of total 2010 population without access to fixed broadband of at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload as of December 2017; (2) percent of homes without a computing device (desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.); (3) percent of homes with no internet access (have no internet subscription, including cellular data plans or dial-up); (4) average maximum advertised download speeds; and (5) average maximum advertised upload speeds.
The SE score groups four variables known to impact technology adoption: (1) percent population ages 65 and over; (2) percent population 25 and over with less than high school; (3) individual poverty rate; and (4) percent of noninstitutionalized civilian population with a disability. In other words, these variable indirectly measure adoption since they are potential predictors of lagging technology adoption.
These two scores are combined to calculate the overall DDI score. If a particular county or census tract has a higher INFA score versus a SE score, efforts should be made to improve broadband infrastructure. If on the other hand, a particular geography has a higher SE score versus an INFA score, efforts should be made to increase digital literacy and exposure to the technology’s benefits.
The DDI measures primarily physical access/adoption and socioeconomic characteristics that may limit motivation, skills, and usage. Due to data limitations it was designed as a descriptive and pragmatic tool and is not intended to be comprehensive. Rather, it should help initiate important discussions among community leaders and residents.