NTIA Creates New Portal for Internet-Use Data

Meant to speed and ease massaging, release of census info

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration has updated its presentation of periodic reports on Internet use to allow for more drilling down and massaging of the information by researchers and others via a new NTIA Data Central online portal.

NTIA has used the data to produce reports about the digital divide and broadband availability. Those reports, most recently tabbed Digital Nation, have morphed into a blog and online tools to search the new data in a variety of ways depending on how deep the dive.

The data can be used, and is used, by outside groups to produce their own reports on broadband adoption issue, like the desire for mobility or the impact of data caps. John Morris, associate administrator of NTIA's Office of Policy Analysis and Development, said NTIA is now making the data more accessible. That includes for the casual grazer or researcher on a mission.

NTIA piggybacks on monthly census polls of 50,000 people to gather the usage data, but only periodically.

The most recent data it has been able to analyze and present, which was posted Thursday (Oct. 29) along with the debut of the new portal, was from July 2013. But Morris said the goal is to improve the lag time by over a year. For example, the newest poll on which it got to ask a host of questions about Internet use was conducted in July 2015, but it is looking to get that out as early next year as it can—the Census Bureau controls when NTIA gets to massage it.

Morris said one thing it had noted from that most recent data was that there seemed to be a seasonal (summer, actually) drop in Internet use, particularly among kids (3-14).

Not surprisingly, that data shows an increase in the use of mobile phones to access online content, about an 18% boost, though again that is from July 2011 to July 2013, or well over two years ago.

Given that the new portal has just launched, NTIA said it invited tire-kickers to provide feedback at data@ntia.doc.gov to help improve the tool.