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Social Distancing, Internet Access and Inequality

by Placekey

This seminar is led by Catherine Tucker, the Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management Science and Professor of Marketing at MIT Sloan School of Management. In it, she summarizes findings from her recent publication with coauthor Lesley Chiou, in which they reevaluate the digital divide in the context of COVID-19, a global pandemic that has forced self-isolation en masse.

Reexamining the Digital Divide: Internet access and inequality during COVID-19

In their paper, Social Distancing, Internet Access and Inequality, they measure the role the influence high-speed Internet access has on an individual’s ability to self-isolate during a global pandemic. They show that income has a significant impact on people’s ability to stay at home, but also found that the unequal distribution of high-speed Internet drives this income disparity.

They are able to conclusively show that both high income and high-speed Internet access improve the likelihood of individuals to adhere to stay at home orders. However, the combination of having high income and access to high-speed Internet had the greatest impact on individuals staying home during lockdown orders.

How Placekey enabled research on Internet access and inequality during a pandemic

For their study, Chiou and Tucker relied on foot traffic data from SafeGraph, which tracks mobile devices. With this information, you can determine with confidence the mobility patterns of individuals, creating an aggregate picture of how individuals and neighborhoods interact with each other and points of interest (POI) around them.

To learn more about what you can do with SafeGraph and Placekey, join the SafeGraph community. There you’ll find an entire community of like-minded researchers willing to share research and ideas to inspire others to innovate!

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