Gov. J.B Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Office of Broadband announced a new interactive Connect Illinois Broadband Map and creation of the Illinois Broadband Lab, a collaborative effort by the State of Illinois, university partners including the University of Illinois System and Illinois Innovation Network, and key stakeholders including the Illinois-based Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.
These efforts will provide Illinois residents and communities with new data on broadband connectivity in their area, as well as an online speed test, to identify gaps and tailor broadband planning efforts to boost access to high-speed internet service, according to a release from the governor’s office.
A new interactive state broadband mapping tool, county-level PDF maps, and other resources are now available to the public via the Illinois Broadband Lab website: http://ibl.illinois.edu — which was developed by and will be housed at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Technology Services unit.
These resources complement and enhance Pritzker’s $420 million Connect Illinois broadband infrastructure plan, a part of Rebuild Illinois, charged with delivering upgrades to bring 21st century capability to every community in the state.
“Access to high speed, reliable internet is not a luxury – it’s a necessity for healthcare, success in school, and to compete in a 21st century economy,” said Pritzker. “Keeping our communities connected has never been more important than it is today. The Illinois Broadband Lab will empower communities with the data, mapping, and related resources necessary for them to take full advantage of historic state and federal investment in broadband access and adoption. Through our first of its kind statewide digital equity plan, we are committed to working alongside Illinois communities to eliminate the digital divide — together, once and for all.”
Designed to guide investment and programming, to inform policy making, and to engage communities in broadband planning and all Illinoisans in broadband speed measurement, the new mapping tool combines data from local broadband providers, Illinois households, and field testing of available bandwidth, the release stated.
In addition, the Illinois Broadband Lab will house hundreds of PDF maps, providing various perspectives, and integrating complementary data sets, related to broadband access today. Illinois residents can enter their home address and access basic information about broadband providers, service levels, and technology availability in their area.
“We are proud to introduce the Illinois Broadband Lab, a collaboration with Illinois universities and key stakeholders, to provide Illinois communities yet another tool as we strive to bring affordable, reliable broadband connectivity for every household, community and business across the state,” said Sylvia Garcia, acting director of DCEO.
For community planners and other stakeholders, the new mapping and speed test tools will provide service level information as well as socioeconomic data and jurisdictional boundaries – information helpful for submitting grant applications, leveraging new federal funding, and developing local plans to improve broadband access and adoption. Unlike other maps before it, the new mapping tool will provide more timely, granular, and accurate data on broadband service, with an ongoing ability for residents to run speed tests that will continue to fuel the accuracy of the maps over time.