Crowdsourcing More Accurate Broadband Maps

by Russ

Crowdsourcing, the practice of soliciting services, ideas or content from undefined groups both online and offline, is gaining in popularity among companies as an inexpensive way to accomplish costly or tedious tasks, like accessing key market intelligence.  

According to Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel the FCC should be mobilizing agency field offices across the country and making use of crowdsourced information on wireless broadband to increase the accuracy of broadband maps. 

I agree, the Gold Country Broadband Consortia effectively use crowdsourcing to identify unserved and underserved areas in Nevada County.  They purchased a booth at the County Fair and as participants to fill out surveys indicating their service provider and the quality of the service provided including estimated speed.  A contact telephone was included on the survey form for follow up.  About 350 forms were completed and the results plotted on an interactive ArcGIS map.  This map was shared with the California Public Utilities Commission.

A sample of the Nevada County survey map:

Nevada County Fair Sample
Red dots no service, blue dots underserved, filled dots served (6Mbps down, 1.5Mbps up)


Working with the CPUC the GCBC developed a standard survey form which GCBC launched as an online survey. Public meetings and newspaper articles were used to encourage Nevada County citizens to fill out the survey forms.  The result of these surveys were collected and sent to the CPUC for inclusion in the public input areas on the California Broadband Maps.

A sample of CPUC

Public Feedback Area Sample
High lighted areas are communities without out broadband that meets the minimum standard at the time the data was taken, this data is out of date today.

Crowdsourcing has worked in the past and can work again with a robust outreach program to advertise the existence of the program. Another critical element is an easy to use data input method.


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