February 28, 2011
The National Broadband Map Launches
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News
The National Broadband Map Launches
By Susan Smith

Exciting news this week was the public launch of the National Broadband Map developed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration ( NTIA) and Federal Communications Commission ( FCC) in partnership with 50 states, five territories and the District of Columbia -- with the geospatial guidance and  involvement of technology consulting firm, Computech, Inc.,

The Map was an objective of one of the White House’s objectives for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The publicly accessible, searchable and interactive Map “connects consumers and businesses with useful information about broadband where they live and work, and serves as a tool for policy analysts to identify additional underserved areas in order to make informed broadband funding decisions,” according to press materials.


By disseminating data on the availability, speed, location and type of broadband services available, the Map presents this data in a straightforward manner with the support of geographic information systems, visualization techniques and a sleek user experience. It will appeal to the novice consumer looking for basic information about broadband availability in their area, as well as to advanced users looking to interact with sophisticated aspects of the site.

When the map went live on February 21, the response was astounding, according to a blog on the NTIA site, with the number of requests to the website averaging more than 1,000 per second. Below is just a short list of the metrics observed on the first day;
  • Total hits yesterday: 158,123,884
  • Hits served by cache: 141,068,348 (89.21%)
  • Total Bytes Transferred: 863GB
  • Peak Requests per Second: 8,970
  • Average Requests per Second: 1,095
  • Visits in the first 10 hours: over 500,000

By developing the National Broadband Map on a layer of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), developers and engineers are able to consume the broadband data for their own mash-ups and applications. Leveraging Computech's expertise in geospatial analysis and mapping, data visualization, operations research, statistical data analysis and user experience design, the site provides quantitative information interactively to end-users, allowing for search functionality and integration of multiple visual experiences. Geographic information includes simple to understand maps that load quickly. Computech's partners in the project extended the firm's ability to render interactive data and produce advanced visualizations of the broadband data.

The APIs (Application Programming Interface) are provided so that developers can further drive the data across the public and private sectors through their own applications. The APIs are free for use by anyone.

Engage invites users to offer feedback.

Each grantee's data gathering process began by contacting the potential broadband providers within a state. Although participation is voluntary, most providers chose to support this effort. In sum, grantees identified and contacted more than 4,600 potential broadband providers nationwide and collected data for approximately 3,400 actual providers operating across the country. When rolled up into parent companies for the national dataset, this work resulted in data for more than 1,650 broadband providers. Every grantee provided a spreadsheet detailing its outreach efforts.
These can be found here.

Information technology firm, Computech, Inc., develops, implements and maintains business-critical information systems for public/private organizations. Computech offers expertise in data-driven dashboards; legacy system modernization; business process modernization; revenue-based collection systems; change management; and has an industry leading international auction/spectrum management practice.

According to Computech president Larry Fitzpatrick, the company was selected by open competition to provide the technology for the Map. In concert with the FCC, Computech selected a fully open source geospatial stack which starts with PostGRES at the bottom to OpenGeo and various open source frameworks. Look for an upcoming block about the technology stack to be posted on the Computech, Inc. site.

In future, there will be a mobile app launched at some point, said Fitzpatrick, and future developments will be community driven and shaped by what enhancements the FCC and NTIA decide to make. “In terms of what other developers do, the site was built so the data and APIs are available – we expect folks who have data that they would like to fuse with this data to take advantage of that,” said Fitzpatrick.


There is a government process for processing and vetting the information people can submit for crowdsourcing such as my providers not listed, or my service type is not listed, said Fitzpatrick. “In terms of speed and reliability issues there is an automatic link to a speed test and there is a graphic in there within the gallery that compares measured speed against advertised speed. The way that that information is validated by using the specific speed test that’s built into the site.”

Partners in the various states are working to expand and update this important dataset, and NTIA will update the map with new data every six months. In the meantime, users can search the map, and have the opportunity to tell the NTIA about the data they are seeing. This crowdsourced feedback will be an important tool to improve and refine the data.

With funding from NTIA’s State Broadband Data & Development Program, state partners have gathered and worked to validate broadband data from thousands of providers across the country. Together, NTIA, the FCC and Computech developed a dataset and website that includes more than 25 million searchable records displaying where broadband Internet service is available, the technology used to provide the service, the maximum advertised speeds of the service, and the names of the broadband providers.

According to the website: To start, search for broadband by address. Or go straight to analysis tools and compare one area to others, and make sure you spend some time with our maps.  Want more? Download the dataset, use our APIs and please tell us how you’re using the data.

Top News

Technology consulting firm, Computech, Inc., announced that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have completed the public launch of the National Broadband Map (the "Map"). The publicly accessible, searchable and interactive Map, which supports one of the White House's objectives from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, connects consumers and businesses with useful information about broadband where they live and work, and serves as a tool for policy analysts to identify additional underserved areas in order to make informed broadband funding decisions.

 The new Map Widget for ArcGIS is available for IBM Lotus Greenhouse and WebSphere Portal Business Solutions Catalog users. It allows them to embed mapping and geographic information system (GIS) capabilities in mashup applications. The map widget can be used within IBM products such as the IBM Mashup Center and IBM WebSphere Portal Server.


Sybase Inc., an SAP company announced an agreement between Sybase Australia and its long-time enterprise mobility partner, Geomatic Technologies (GT) , to bring mobility-as-a-service to Australia’s mid-market. With the hosted offering, GT’s managed services division, GTcentral, will enable businesses to benefit from Sybase Afaria’s comprehensive management and security features for smartphones and tablets – all remotely deployed and managed in GTcentral 's secure hosted environments.

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