Diving Deeper into the Data

This week, NTIA and FCC have rolled out a number of improvements to the National Broadband Map, to improve performance, add features, and communicate better with the user community.

The National Broadband Map (NBM) website sits on a wealth of information that has been collected by each State and Territory. 25 million records make up the current release of the data, and our web site allows users to search, summarize and rank up to 37 trillion combinations of provider, speed, technology, and demographics across a number of geographies. Most significantly, we tie these data to the census block level, which is as detailed a national data set as has been available previously. But many users wish to do more with the NBM data, and that is why we have built this site as a platform for developers. Our recent updates have added a number of new features which improve speed, efficiency, and the utility of the NBM for developers and users alike.

New APIs have been added for Community Anchor Institutions (find nearest CAI) and for Census (find by FIPS). Census APIs now return the geographic envelope in the response. Speed test APIs now allow users to choose which speed test source they prefer, M-lab, Ookla, or both. And all APIs now benefit from a unique caching layer, implemented by our development team. This allows the NBM website, and any other sites using our APIs to display very speedy results. For more information, please see our Developer page.

Our search results page now features a third crowd-sourcing feature for speed. In the future, we will also provide a map of all the crowd-source points we have collected; interesting patterns are emerging!

Speaking of the map gallery, our web statistics tell us that many visitors were not finding all of our maps contained in the gallery (six and growing!). So we now display the gallery selector when you first start to explore the maps. Take another tour around the Map Gallery.

Some people like to just see the data, and the National Broadband Map provides a number of ways to download data. A new feature on the Search Results and Rank pages adds CSV to the list of export options. Simply search for an address, or Rank a Geography, and click Export at the top of the page. In addition, users can visit the Data Downloads page for all the underlying data used on the site.

The NBM Analyze page now features a list of the 10 most visited geographies for the Rank and Summarize tools. Users can select any of these 10, or create their own set of results. When you create a result, our RESTful URLs allow you to refer back to that same web address directly, for convenient sharing or inclusion in reports.

When serving up a dataset with 25 million records, changes both large and small can make a big difference. In addition to the above features, our team has added dozens of tweaks, refinements, and bug fixes, to make the experience of using the National Broadband Map more useful and informative.

Eric Spry
Deputy Geographic Information Officer
Federal Communications Commission

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