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Introducing NTIA Data Central

October 28, 2015
John Morris, Associate Administrator, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Last November marked the 20th anniversary of NTIA’s Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS). This important data collection has documented profound technological transformations in American life, from the explosion of Internet use to the proliferation of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.  In partnership with the Census Bureau, we have cataloged detailed trends over time, gathering data on over 1.3 million Americans through over 600,000 household interviews.

As we witness the continued evolution of the Internet – including the connection of wristwatches, thermostats, and many other everyday objects to the Internet – comprehensive data on Americans’ use of technology will only become more important. NTIA has revamped everything from the questions we ask to the ways in which we report results so that the CPS Supplement continues to be a relevant and valuable resource. This revamp includes our new NTIA Data Central, an easy-to-use source for locating statistics and charting trends.

The CPS Supplement has been a vital resource for policymakers since its inception. We want to make those data even more valuable to researchers and policy makers through NTIA Data Central.

  • We are evolving NTIA’s Digital Nation series into a blog format to more quickly and nimbly provide data and expert analysis on the state of computer and Internet use in America.
  • We are significantly simplifying the task of gathering specific statistics of interest with our new Data Explorer tool.  The Data Explorer locates desired metrics from among thousands of calculations performed on each dataset and represents them visually through illustrative charts.  All of these calculations are also made available in the Analyze Table spreadsheet we are making available for download.
  • We are making available in multiple formats the raw datasets from 1994 onward and providing resources in a new Research Center to facilitate research on Internet use and development of new policy ideas and solutions. 

View from the Digital Nation Data Explorer
View from the Digital Nation Data Explorer

Included in Data Central are just released results from the July 2013 data collection.  It shows Americans are continuing the migration to mobile devices to access the Internet, compared to more traditional ways of going online such as a desktop computer.  The latest data show a nearly 18 percentage point increase in persons who said they use a mobile phone to go online between July 2011 (27.3 percent) and July 2013 (45.1 percent). In comparison, use of a desktop computer to go online dropped from 44.8 percent to 39.8 percent between 2011 and 2013.

At the same time, the proportion of households using the Internet at home was flat between our last two data collections in October 2012 (74.8 percent) and July 2013 (74.2 percent).  While some of this stability might be attributed to the increased use of mobile devices to access the Internet outside the home, the decline in home computer and Internet use might also be seasonal. The latest survey was conducted in the summer, when families are more likely to be on vacation. We have designed NTIA Data Central to better serve Internet policy research in the years ahead. We’re excited to learn what the next 20 years will bring, and we fully intend for NTIA to remain at the center of computer and Internet use data collection and analysis. We welcome feedback at