Community Data Clinic receives Broadband READY grant

Anita Say Chan
Anita Say Chan, Associate Professor

The Community Data Clinic, a mixed methods data studies and interdisciplinary community research lab led by Associate Professor Anita Say Chan, has received a $50,000 grant to address gaps in household access to computing devices, hotspot connectivity, and digital literacy skills in East Central Illinois. The grant is part of the state's Broadband Regional Engagement for Adoption and Digital Equity (READY) program, which is operated through the governor's office and Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The Community Data Clinic at the University of Illinois is one of only four sites that are partnering with the state on this effort.

"Our award centers UIUC's leadership in helping the state to expand civic infrastructures and ensure equity in access for Illinois' diverse populations," said Chan, who is a principal investigator on the grant along with Tracy Smith, director of research IT and innovation at Illinois.

According to the researchers, data from the United Way show that from 2007 to 2017, the cost of a basic family survival budget grew by 38%, "driven largely by increases in the costs of housing, health care, and childcare, but also by the addition of basic smartphone plans and internet connections to budgets." The COVID-19 pandemic put an additional strain on these already vulnerable households.

Over the next year, the clinic will collaborate with the Champaign County Housing Authority and Project Success of Vermillion County, an after-school program that partners with nearly twenty schools in the county. Kimberly David, associate director of Project Success, notes that the lack of available resources in households—including access to laptops and reliable, affordable internet connection—heavily influenced students' absenteeism during quarantine, and that the impact could remain even after COVID subsides.

"Working together, we aim to elevate and expand best practices and approaches to engage local stakeholders toward shared goals in broadband access, adoption, and healthy practices in utilization," said Chan. According to Chan, next steps include a deployment of two hundred laptops for low-income households in early August, in partnership with local community groups.

In addition to directing the Community Data Clinic at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), Chan co-leads the Just Infrastructures Initiative with faculty in the Grainger College of Engineering. She is a Fiddler Innovation Faculty Fellow at the NCSA and a 2020-2021 Faculty Affiliate at the Data & Society Research Institute in New York City. She received her PhD from MIT in the history and anthropology of science and technology studies.

Updated on
Backto the news archive

Related News

Wang research group receives ASONAM Best Paper Award

A paper coauthored by PhD student Lanyu Shang and members of Associate Professor Dong Wang's research group, the Social Sensing and Intelligence Lab, received the best paper award in the research track during the 2022 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Network Analysis and Mining (ASONAM 2022). The conference brings together researchers and practitioners from a broad variety of social media-related fields to promote collaborations and exchange of ideas and practices.

Dong Wang

He research group presents at NeurIPS

Members of Associate Professor Jingrui He's research group, the iSAIL Lab, will present their research at the 36th Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS 2022), which will be held from November 29-December 1 in New Orleans, Louisiana, and also virtually. NeurIPS is one of the most prestigious and competitive international conferences in machine learning and computational neuroscience.  

Jingrui He

Schiller authors new book on the development of U.S. telecommunications

Professor Emeritus Dan Schiller has authored a new book on the progression of telecommunications systems in the United States. In Crossed Wires: The Conflicted History of U.S. Telecommunications from the Post Office to the Internet, which will be released by Oxford University Press in February 2023, Schiller draws on archival documents to argue that it was not technology but political economy that drove the evolution of the telecommunications industry.

Dan Schiller

Wilberg joins the iSchool’s Advancement team

Danielle Wilberg has joined the iSchool as director of corporate and foundation relations. In her new role, Wilberg will be identifying and collaborating with businesses and foundations to develop mutually beneficial partnerships that support the School's mission.

Danielle Wilberg