Telecom GIS In Five Minutes Video Series - Episode 028 - Locating Underserved Communities with ArcGIS

09-28-2021 06:49 AM
Esri Regular Contributor

Welcome back everybody to another episode of TGI5. In this week's episode, we're going to demonstrate how you can leverage Esri's demographic data with ArcGIS business analyst to help project scope and analyze underserved communities and help to address the digital divide. So without further ado, let's jump right into our demonstration. Understanding the digital divide and broadband availability is a geographic analysis problem. Where are the underserved communities and why?

How do we better serve them as efficiently and effectively as possible? Those are the questions we'll look to answer in this demonstration as we start scoping out our broadband expansion projects. Now, all good analysis starts with good data. Esri offers a curated library of geographic data through the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World that can be used during the project scope and analysis phase of a network buildout and specifically to help understand where underserved communities exist, how many people are underserved and who these residents are.

There are demographic data sets, broadband access and availability data sets, and data sets of the FCC Form 477 submission results. So using this geographic data with geographic analysis, let's see if we can understand the digital divide of the community of Lakeland Florida and then locate ideal community centers and schools to use as free public WiFi locations, or fixed wireless sites to offer a better broadband connection to the community's residence with ArcGIS, you can map any geographic data that you have as well as leverage the geographic data that as we curates. Here is the form 477 seven data set added to our map. The areas in Pink have a lower broadband score, which means based on the form 477 submission results. These are the areas with poor broadband speeds and few other options for Internet.

So for this demo, these will be the areas we want to better serve. I'll also add to the map community centers, points of interest and schools that we may want to offer WiFi at, or even for a fixed wireless site deployment. Now that we have the data in our map, let's perform a 20 minutes walk time analysis for these sites, which will allow us to understand the neighborhood that will benefit from a WiFi hotspot. Will focus just on schools for today.

So I'll Select the schools in the Lakeland Florida area and we'll create our 20 minutes walk time buffers. We can visually see the walk times and the neighborhoods within a 20 minutes walking distance. But let's actually use suitability analysis to prioritize these sites based on how underserved these neighborhoods are and how many residents we would actually be serving. Suitability analysis allows us to weight different variables to understand how suitable a location is for meeting a certain criteria, like addressing an underserved community. There are many different socioeconomic and demographic variables to choose from, but I've created a specific list for broadband accessibility. The variables that I've selected include the median, upload and download speeds, number of Internet service providers, total housing units, household income, and population growth. I've weighted upload and download speeds the highest, which means these variables will have the greatest influence on our suitability rankings. Now as we run this analysis, and then view the results. We have a final score for each school or target public WiFi location for how suitable that site is based on those weighted variables, we can always go back and change our variables or their weights if we decide to focus more on population growth and housing units, for example.

Now that we have the rankings of sites in our suitability results, there is more than likely a project manager or team or city official who needs to make a final decision on which of these broadband projects to go ahead. With with ArcGIS, you can easily share analysis results through PDFs, Web Maps and dashboards. Just like this dashboard we see here, this dashboard allows me to select a prospective site and view its location on the map with other nearby telecom infrastructure. And also view an interactive infographic. We can explore the suitability analysis variables for each site, along with additional broadband accessibility variables to help us make a final decision on which sites to offer WiFi at. Whether it's specifically addressing digital divide, looking for areas to expand broadband into, prioritizing public WiFi locations, or locating sites for fixed wireless. The geographic data and geographic analysis tools offered by ArcGIS can assist in all of your broadband buildout project scoping and analysis. Thanks everybody for watching another episode of TGI5 and be on the lookout for future episodes in which we will cover additional ways that ArcGIS can help address the digital divide.

So until next time we're out.

- Patrick Huls

Solutions Engineer | @SpatialNinja | Telecommunications
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