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Award Supports Computer Scientist's Quest to Address Digital Inequities

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Northern Arizona University's Morgan Vigil-Hayes

"We're focusing on the actual people that want and need to use the Internet," says NAU's Morgan Vigil-Hayes.


Computer scientist Morgan Vigil-Hayes, an assistant professor at Northern Arizona University, was awarded a $561,598 grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation to support research focused on advancing social justice by improving access to broadband Internet service for mobile and desktop use among rural, low-income, and tribal populations.

In previous research, Vigil-Hayes found that industry-based measurements of broadband services, as well as Federal Communications Commission broadband maps, are highly inaccurate, especially in rural tribal areas of the Southwest. Additional studies revealed significant differences between coverage documented on the published maps and actual coverage on the ground.

"A lot of these coverage maps are generated using models," Vigil-Hayes says. "Although that's a relatively quick, inexpensive way to generate these maps, they're just not very accurate."

"I am coming at this problem as somebody who is both an expert in measuring networks as well as an expert in human-computer interaction to understand the barriers to using these tools," she says. Better Internet is "something that needs to happen across the U.S."

From Northern Arizona University
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