This research will illuminate the impact wi-fi access has on access to medical care—which affects health outcomes—childhood educational performance, use of public space, and employment opportunities in Chattanooga’s underserved communities. Furthermore, these data will allow us to make comparisons both within the sample population as well as with other studies that have examined the effect of broadband access on similar measures of well-being. This project provides the opportunity to observe the impact of broadband access in an underserved community in real time because we are able to observe behavior and quality of life “pre-test” and “post-test”.
The implications of this work is vast, not only for the possibility to replicate the study elsewhere, but also to better understand what the digital divide looks like in Chattanooga. This information will help to provide the most appropriate services in the most useful way to Chattanooga residents. Ultimately, the introduction of public wi-fi has the potential to provide neighborhood residents access to the benefits associated with digital communications that can directly impact their success, degree of inclusion, and quality of life.
We are still collecting baseline data. After all NoogaNet nodes are live and the neighborhood is fully connected, a second-wave of data will be collected to learn about variable changes that may have occurred since the installation of NoogaNet.