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Data Central Blog

Three Papers Using NTIA Data to be Presented at Research Conference

September 7, 2017

For more than 20 years, NTIA has commissioned the U.S. Census Bureau to conduct surveys on Internet and computer use. The Census Bureau periodically includes this Digital Nation survey as a supplement to its Current Population Survey (CPS) – it’s one of numerous supplements that are regularly included with the CPS, with topics ranging from school enrollment to tobacco use.

NTIA has offered our analysis of the resulting data in a series of reports, and we post the raw datasets and other analysis tools to assist researchers who want to use the data. This enables researchers outside of government to make original and innovative use of the data in their own studies, which ultimately contribute to better-informed policymaking.

Tomorrow, three research papers using NTIA’s Digital Nation survey data will be presented at the 45th Research Conference on Communications, Information and Internet Policy (TPRC), an annual conference attended by researchers, policymakers, and advocates from the public, academic, and private sectors. The papers serve as instructive examples of how researchers can take NTIA’s survey data beyond the basic metrics to offer unique and valuable insights into Internet use in America.

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Building Our Next Internet Use Survey

January 9, 2017

Today, NTIA began seeking public comment on the next edition of our Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS), which will go into the field in November 2017 and will build on previous research to track the evolving ways Americans are using new information technology.

For more than two decades, the CPS Supplement has been the primary data source for NTIA’s research into who goes online, what devices and applications people use on the Internet, and what barriers stand in the way of all Americans effectively utilizing the latest information technologies. Moreover, researchers and policymakers inside and outside of government rely on our surveys in part because of their large sample size—around 53,000 households—as well as their in-depth questions and public dataset availability.

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Mapping Computer and Internet Use by State: Introducing Data Explorer 2.0

October 27, 2016

One of the major advantages of NTIA’s surveys on computer and Internet use stems from their very large sample size—approximately 53,000 households representing more than 120,000 people. This allows us to break out results by demographics like age, race, income, and education, as well as by state of residence. Today, we are launching a new feature of our Data Explorer tool enabling users to visualize NTIA’s computer and Internet use data by state, with metrics displayed in a national map.

Figure 1: Internet Use from Any Location by State
Percent of Americans Ages 3+, 1998 & 2015
December 1998                                                          July 2015

Users can easily adjust the map to reflect different datasets, while pressing the “Play” button cycles through datasets to show how the country has changed over time. The map view is available for every metric in Data Explorer, such as use of various devices, locations of Internet use, and online activities.

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NTIA Shares Insights on Internet Research at TPRC

September 29, 2016

Tomorrow, policy staff from NTIA will be participating in an annual policy research conference where they will be discussing important research about Americans’ computer and Internet use habits. They will be presenting two working papers at the 44th Research Conference on Communications, Information and Internet Policy (TPRC), an annual conference on information, communications, and technology policy, which brings together researchers, policymakers, and advocates from the public, academic, and private sectors. These papers shed light on important policy issues relying on data collected though NTIA’s Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS Supplement).

In the first working paper, Trust in Internet Privacy and Security and Online Activity, NTIA staff used data from the most recent CPS Supplement, which included questions on household privacy and security concerns, to identify certain indicators of distrust in security online. Their analysis reveals that Internet-using households with either serious concerns with Internet privacy or prior experiences with a security breach or harassment were more likely to report that they refrained from a range of online activities, after controlling for other factors.

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Digitally Unconnected in the U.S.: Who’s Not Online and Why?

September 28, 2016

When she announced the Commerce Department’s Digital Economy Agenda a year ago, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker emphasized that broadband Internet access and digital skills are critical to the economy’s success.  The digital marketplace has created millions of new jobs in the United States. Digitally connected Americans are the modern workers, creative innovators, and new customers who will help sustain our nation’s global competitiveness. 

But what about those Americans who do not use the Internet? Whether by circumstance or by choice, millions of U.S. households are not online, and thus unable to meaningfully participate in the digital economy. Data from NTIA’s July 2015 Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey confirm that the digital divide persists. In 2015, 33 million households (27 percent of all U.S. households) did not use the Internet at home, where families can more easily share Internet access and conduct sensitive online transactions privately.  Significantly, 26 million households—one-fifth of all households—were offline entirely, lacking a single member who used the Internet from any location in 2015.

Reasons for No Internet Use at Home

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The State of the Urban/Rural Digital Divide

August 10, 2016

While 75 percent of Americans reported using the Internet in July 2015, the longstanding disparity between urban and rural users persists and has emerged in the adoption of new technologies such as the smartphone and social media, according to the latest computer and Internet use data collected for NTIA. This suggests that in spite of advances in both policy and technology, the barriers to Internet adoption existing in rural communities are complex and stubborn. In particular, Americans who were otherwise less likely to use the Internet—such as those with lower levels of family income or education—faced an even larger disadvantage when living in a rural area. Conversely, rural individuals with higher levels of education or family income did not have significantly lower adoption rates than their urban counterparts, according to the data. The data comes from NTIA’s Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.

View of the Rural Divide

 

Figure 1: Internet Use from Any Location by Population Density
Percent of Americans Ages 3+, 1998-2015

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New Insights into the Emerging Internet of Things

June 15, 2016

From Internet-connected fitness bands and watches to security systems and thermostats, Americans are beginning to use Internet-connected devices, appliances, and objects that are part of a growing category of technology known as the Internet of Things (IoT).

The latest computer and Internet use data collected for NTIA shows that the number of Americans using IoT devices is still small. But we are seeing an interesting snapshot of early adopters. These new insights into how Americans are utilizing IoT are drawn from data collected in July 2015 as part of our Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. As we previously noted in April, few Americans—just 1 percent—reported using a wearable, Internet-connected device, such as a fitness band or watch, as of July 2015. While the market for this type of device is clearly in its early stages, we found notable differences between early adopters of wearable technology and the population as a whole (see Figure 1). Unsurprisingly, wearable device users exhibited many characteristics associated with higher levels of computer and Internet use. Wearable device users tended to have higher education and family income levels compared with all Americans, and they were more likely to live in metropolitan areas.

Lack of Trust in Internet Privacy and Security May Deter Economic and Other Online Activities

May 13, 2016

Every day, billions of people around the world use the Internet to share ideas, conduct financial transactions, and keep in touch with family, friends, and colleagues. Users send and store personal medical data, business communications, and even intimate conversations over this global network. But for the Internet to grow and thrive, users must continue to trust that their personal information will be secure and their privacy protected.

NTIA’s analysis of recent data shows that Americans are increasingly concerned about online security and privacy at a time when data breaches, cybersecurity incidents, and controversies over the privacy of online services have become more prominent. These concerns are prompting some Americans to limit their online activity, according to data collected for NTIA in July 2015 by the U.S. Census Bureau. This survey included several privacy and security questions, which were asked of more than 41,000 households that reported having at least one Internet user.

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Commerce Brings Stakeholders Together to Improve Digital Economy Metrics

May 9, 2016

Improving Digital Economy MetricsToday, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) convened a roundtable to discuss what data is needed to better measure the economic importance of the cross-border information flows that connect people and businesses across the globe. Representatives from the government, private sector, academia, and public interest community spent the morning going through existing resources, identifying gaps, and evaluating what the Commerce Department could be doing to improve its digital economy metrics.

The Internet has connected people around the world in new ways through the free flow of information across borders. In 2014, approximately 56 percent of services exports and 50 percent of U.S. services imports were digitally deliverable. Modern day companies of all sizes are relying on cross-border data flows for their day to day operations. This includes the ability to access global markets, interact with customers across the globe, find new suppliers, and communicate with their overseas affiliates. For example, of 271 tech‐enabled startups surveyed by 1776 and the McKinsey Global Institute, 86 percent had at least one cross‐border activity. People are using cross-border data flows to access knowledge, communicate, and participate in electronic commerce.

Evolving Technologies Change the Nature of Internet Use

April 19, 2016

Americans’ rapid move toward mobile Internet service appears to be coming at the expense of home broadband connections, according to the latest computer and Internet use data released by NTIA. At the same time, many Americans are using a wider range of computing devices in their daily lives. Both of these findings suggest that technological changes are driving a profound shift in how Americans use the Internet, which may be opening a new digital divide based on the use of particular types of devices and Internet services.  These results come from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS), which includes data collected for NTIA in July 2015 from nearly 53,000 households.

Mobile Internet service appears to be competing more directly with wired Internet connections. According to the data, three-quarters of American households using the Internet at home in 2015 still used wired technologies for high-speed Internet service, including cable, DSL, and fiber-optic connections. However, this represents a sizable drop in wired home broadband use, from 82 percent of online households in July 2013 to 75 percent two years later. Over this same period, the data also shows that the proportion of online households that relied exclusively on mobile service at home doubled between 2013 and 2015, from 10 percent to 20 percent (see Figure 1).

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