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During the last 18 months, the importance of internet access has never been clearer. Now, a DC analytics firm has a way to measure connectivity.
Socially Determined launched a new tool for organizations looking to assess digital equity in their communities.
The Digital Landscape metric, which was just announced today, measures the presence of tech components that allow people within a community to fully participate in society, and specifically the impact this may have on healthcare and business performance. The new metric is part of Socially Determined’s SocialScape analytics platform, which also measures economics, food accessibility and housing.
Alan Lattimer, vice president of data science at Wharf-based Socially Determined, said that while Digital Landscape is more of a measuring tool, it can help create better communities.
“It really affords these organizations the opportunity to step in and start helping the communities, which we have found over and over again is really the impetus of what they’re trying to do,” Lattimer told Technical.ly.
In addition to measuring the availability of broadband in a geographic area, Lattimer said Digital Landscape also considers things like device ownership and proximity to public Wi-Fi locations. To assess affordability, it also looks at the cost of internet access compared to the household budgets of those in the area. Plus, it looks at the digital literacy of the community to see how comfortable members are with tech, and if it has been utilized to its full extent.
The overall goal, Lattimer said, is to help organizations better understand the digital shortcomings of the communities they work in. In turn, this can better serve the communities, he said, especially given the far reach of technology.
“[Digital equity] affects a lot of things in the immediacy. It affects the ability to get telehealth and to have access to telehealth. And as we look into the middle of a pandemic, that’s an important mechanism for us to provide routine healthcare,” Lattimer said, adding that it can also impact the ability to work or have a conversation remotely, as well as education.
Founded in 2017 by Trenor Williams, Socially Determined provides analytics to organizations addressing the social determinants of health, which the World Health Organization defines as the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes.
Socially Determined’s clients, which Lattimer said include nonprofits, life sciences companies and healthcare providers, are all thinking more and more about access to digital resources following the pandemic.
He expects the new tool to be particularly useful in the payer space, assisting in the development of the right care at the right cost for the people firms serve.
Overall, he hopes it can help organizations rethink digital policies and focus more on bridging any existing gaps as they develop social impact solutions.
“It’s just such a great opportunity to continue to help people understand what the challenges are out there, and then how to creatively start to solve those problems,” Lattimer said.
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