School Districts Chosen to Pilot Michigan Moonshot Data Collection Project
ANN ARBOR, MI. April 24, 2019 – Three school districts, representing more than 6,000 students, have been chosen as pilots for the Michigan Moonshot broadband data collection project, which is set to begin in May, 2019.
More than 360,000 rural homes in Michigan and 27% of K12 students lack access to broadband internet in their homes. This lack of home connectivity creates a “homework gap” between those who can access the Internet to support their schoolwork at home, and those who cannot. Merit Network, in partnership with Michigan State University’s Quello Center and the D.C.-based Measurement Lab, has developed a plan to address the digital divide within our state. Dubbed the “Michigan Moonshot,” Merit’s approach includes access and availability data collection, investigation and community education in regard to infrastructure investment and societal impact studies.
“Educators have been talking about the “digital divide” for two decades, and while some progress has been made in closing the gap, inequities persist in communities across the country. We are excited to partner with high schools throughout Michigan to take the next step in helping underserved communities achieve broadband internet success,” said Charlotte Bewersdorff, Vice President of Marketing and Member Engagement for Merit Network.
A consistent challenge nationally is understanding where broadband is currently available and at what speeds it is available. Consumer-sourced data can improve the accuracy of broadband availability data and enable us to identify areas where access or speed appears to be under – or – over estimated.
“We are eager to begin leveraging citizen scientists in the K12 community to collect granular data on the speed and quality of broadband internet connections to better understand how gaps in Internet access affect the ability of students to succeed in school (often referred to as the “homework gap”). The Michigan Moonshot is currently pursuing funding for a larger rollout that could include other community stakeholder groups provided this proof of concept goes well,” said Dr. Johannes Bauer, Quello Chair for Media and Information Policy at MSU.
Armed with an accurate picture of Michigan’s connectivity, barriers to broadband network deployment in rural communities could be reduced through a combination of techniques. Efforts to secure one-time funds to supplement network construction costs, the creation of community connectivity task force teams, the deployment of municipal network education initiatives and seeking planning grants could present viable next steps to address the lack of connectivity in Michigan.
“Merit and our partners in higher education, K-12, and government are determined to do everything we can to ensure no students are left behind in the 21st century economy. Michigan
is filled with talent in every corner, and we are striving to unleash the full human potential for our great state,” said Merit’s President and CEO, Joe Sawasky.
Michigan Moonshot Data Collection Pilot Project Schools:
Mecosta Osceola ISD
- Morley Stanwood Community Schools
St. Clair RESA
- Yale Public Schools
- Capac Community Schools
- Memphis Community Schools
- East China School District
Eastern Upper Peninsula ISD
- DeTour Area Schools
- Pickford Public Schools
- St. Ignace Area Schools
- Les Cheneaux Community Schools
- Moran Township School District
- Mackinac Island Public Schools
- Bois Blanc Pines School District
- Rudyard Area Schools
- Sault Ste. Marie Area Schools
- Brimley Area Schools
- Engadine Consolidated Schools
- Tahquamenon Area Schools
- Whitefish Township Schools
- Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting Anishnabe PSA (Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians)
- Ojibwe Charter School (Bay Mills Indian Community)
About Merit Network:
Merit Network, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation owned and governed by Michigan’s public universities. Merit owns and operates America’s longest-running regional research and education network. In 1966, Michigan’s public universities created Merit as a shared resource to help meet their common need for networking assistance. Since its formation, Merit Network has remained on the forefront of research and education networking expertise and services. Merit provides network, security and community services to Michigan’s public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare and other non-profit organizations.
About the Quello Center at Michigan State University:
The Quello Center is a multi-disciplinary center within the Department of Media and Information at MSU, but its faculty work in collaboration with faculty from across CAS, the broader University, and associates worldwide. The Quello Center seeks to stimulate and inform debate on the economic and social implications of media, communication, and information innovations of our digital age. It pursues research that questions taken-for-granted assumptions and seeks to collaborate with other centers of excellence in research on the social and economic implications of communication, media, and information technologies of our digital age and the policy and management issues raised by these developments.
Measurement Lab (M-Lab) is the largest open internet measurement platform in the world, hosting internet-scale measurement experiments and releasing all data into the public domain. M-Lab is an open source project with contributors from civil society organizations, educational institutions, and private sector companies dedicated to providing an open, verifiable measurement platform for global network performance; hosting the largest open Internet performance dataset on the planet; and creating visualizations and tools to help people make sense of Internet performance.M-Lab advances network research in the academic community and empowers the public with useful information about broadband and mobile connections, enhancing internet transparency, and helping to promote and sustain a healthy, innovative internet.
Since 2008, M-Lab has worked in the public interest to measure internet performance around the world and share data openly, aiming to advance Internet research and to empower consumers with useful information about their Internet performance. By providing free, open Internet measurement data, researchers, regulators, advocacy groups, and the general public can get a better sense of how the Internet is working for them, and how to maintain and improve it for the future.
For more information:
Director of Marketing and Communications, Merit Network c: 937.212.0631