TOPEKA – University researchers working on a project to document the availability and quality of Internet connections across Kansas have homework assignments for parents in Kindergarten to Grade 12.
The U.S. Department of Commerce-funded broadband access and affordability assessment began in March, with researchers documenting unmet needs and developing a map of internet speeds by zip code.
So far, professors at the University of Kansas and the University of Michigan involved in the project lack sufficient input from parents of elementary and high school students. It is likely that these families, especially in rural areas, were significantly affected by the lack of coverage or the slow transmission speeds at home.
“We hope to reach parents and rural families in particular,” said Germaine Halegua, associate professor of communication at UM. âWe know that farm businesses and rural communities are often affected by limited service options. Their concerns are not currently well represented in our survey, but we need to hear their concerns and experiences. “
Donna Ginther, professor of economics at KU, said individuals can complete the survey through the KU Institute for Political and Social Research. Kansans can complete the 10-minute survey at PRRO website. Kansans who do not have home internet service are encouraged to contact researchers, by email or otherwise, with their experiences.
The existing information about broadband access in Kansas has historically been based on the self-declaration of dozens of service providers. This system did not provide enough detailed information to understand the differences in availability and speed of service by district. Furthermore, this approach has failed to provide state policymakers with insight into the affordability of broadband.
The Kansas Health Institute has reported that one in four Kansas children under the age of 18 do not have adequate access to affordable high-speed internet service.
The Kansas City Federal Reserve and the Kansas Health Foundation suggested there was an urban-rural gap in terms of internet access. Almost half of the people in Kansas’ 11-count Flint Hills area do not have reliable internet access. The best-served areas of the state are in Johnson County.