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Building Our Next Internet Use Survey

January 09, 2017 by Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Today, NTIA began seeking public comment on the next edition of our Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS), which will go into the field in November 2017 and will build on previous research to track the evolving ways Americans are using new information technology.

For more than two decades, the CPS Supplement has been the primary data source for NTIA’s research into who goes online, what devices and applications people use on the Internet, and what barriers stand in the way of all Americans effectively utilizing the latest information technologies. Moreover, researchers and policymakers inside and outside of government rely on our surveys in part because of their large sample size—around 53,000 households—as well as their in-depth questions and public dataset availability.

Improving Cybersecurity Through Enhanced Vulnerability Disclosure

December 15, 2016 by Angela Simpson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information

Stakeholders involved in NTIA’s cybersecurity multistakeholder process to promote collaboration on vulnerability research disclosure today are releasing initial findings, recommendations, and resources that they hope will enhance cooperation and lead to a more secure digital ecosystem. The three stakeholder-drafted reports reflect the experience and wisdom of many of the key experts in the field, including active security researchers, experienced software companies, security companies, academics, and civil society advocates, as well as industries new to the issue.

Vulnerability disclosure has long been an open, important issue in cybersecurity. Companies need a strategy to deal with flawed software, systems, and configurations -- especially when the issues are first discovered by a third party. Without a strategy, for example, companies sometimes choose to threaten the third party with legal action rather than working together to fix the vulnerability. This need is heightened as more and more organizations become part of the digital economy.

A diverse set of stakeholders participated in this process for more than a year, attending four in-person meetings across the country, and participating in countless conference calls and drafting sessions. On behalf of NTIA, I want to thank them for their hard work and dedication to seeking consensus and increased collaboration on these important cybersecurity issues.

Sizing up Spectrum Sharing Prospects

November 17, 2016 by Glenn Reynolds, Chief of Staff, and Peter Tenhula, Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Spectrum Management

NTIA today is announcing the development of another tool to help meet the surging demand for spectrum from industry and government agencies.  It also is the latest demonstration of the Obama Administration’s ongoing commitment to make spectrum available for wireless broadband.

As directed by President Obama in a 2013 Memorandum, NTIA is releasing the Quantitative Assessments of Spectrum Usage that summarizes our initial efforts to evaluate a range of federal spectrum bands for possible sharing with commercial users.  These efforts will provide a basis for further detailed studies of potential sharing scenarios.

Using Partnerships to Power Smart Cities: A Toolkit for Local Communities

November 16, 2016 by NTIA

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Many cities and local communities are eyeing advances in technology as a way to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve quality of life for their residents – all in the face of shrinking budgets. They are seeking to become “Smart Cities” by embedding new digital technologies into municipal infrastructure. The possibilities seem endless: smart grids, intelligent transportation systems, connected street lighting, and remote healthcare to name a few.

Although smart-city infrastructure is the foundation for vibrant societies of tomorrow, today many communities do not have the required expertise to develop and sustain new large-scale infrastructure and technology projects. Many also lack the funds needed for such investments. One way to meet these challenges is to harness the resources and strengths of private-sector stakeholders – innovators, businesses, community anchor institutions, educators, and more. Private-sector partners can be an important source of capital, technical knowledge, continuing innovation and workforce development.

Access to Broadband Fuels Workforce Development and Enhances Job Skills

November 15, 2016 by Jennifer Duane, Senior Advisor for Broadband and Public Safety, National Telecommunications and Information Administration

This blog post was cross-posted on the Commerce Department's website.

Broadband has become an indispensable driver of economic growth and workforce development, creating new opportunities for Americans to participate in the modern, global economy and changing the way they find and do their jobs.  Broadband provides channels for sharing information, learning new skills for career advancement, and completing basic job functions in a number of professions.

Understanding Spectrum Clutter—It’s Not About Neatness!

November 02, 2016 by Keith Gremban, Director of the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences

Picture of Keith GrembanMerriam-Webster defines clutter first as “a crowded or confused mass or collection,” and then as “interfering radar echoes caused by reflection from objects (as on the ground) other than the target.” As we work to make the most efficient use of the radio spectrum, including by sharing it, we need to better understand how radio spectrum interacts with real world environments, not just in a lab, in order to predict when and where interference might occur.  Imagine painting rings around a particular source showing how far out the signal is likely to travel and cause possible interference to other sources – the better our understanding of how the spectrum operates in various environments the narrower the “brush” we can use to paint those lines.  This means there will be less geography that must be protected against possible interference. 

One key issue that needs to be studied in more detail is “clutter,” which consists of environmental features such as buildings, other structures, and vegetation that cause signal loss due to scattering and absorption.

Mapping Computer and Internet Use by State: Introducing Data Explorer 2.0

October 27, 2016 by Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development, and Christopher Weiss, Information Technology Specialist, Information Technology Division

One of the major advantages of NTIA’s surveys on computer and Internet use stems from their very large sample size—approximately 53,000 households representing more than 120,000 people. This allows us to break out results by demographics like age, race, income, and education, as well as by state of residence. Today, we are launching a new feature of our Data Explorer tool enabling users to visualize NTIA’s computer and Internet use data by state, with metrics displayed in a national map.

Figure 1: Internet Use from Any Location by State
Percent of Americans Ages 3+, 1998 & 2015
December 1998                                                          July 2015

Users can easily adjust the map to reflect different datasets, while pressing the “Play” button cycles through datasets to show how the country has changed over time. The map view is available for every metric in Data Explorer, such as use of various devices, locations of Internet use, and online activities.

Report Outlines Potential Improvements in Measuring Value of Data Flows

September 30, 2016 by Giulia McHenry, Chief Economist, NTIA and Jessica Nicholson, Economist, Economics and Statistics Administration

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The Internet has extraordinary power to shrink the world -- to allow people separated by thousands of miles to more easily interact, learn from one another, and trade goods and services. These interactions are possible because of the incredible amounts of data that flows seamlessly across borders.

We know these data flows are happening and we know they are having an increasingly significant effect on the economy. However, solid statistical foundations for measuring the economic impact of cross-border data flows do not currently exist. What’s needed is the sound methodology and standard nomenclature that other economic data enjoy, so that policymakers can make informed decisions and businesses can choose strategies that will help them grow.

Late last year, the Commerce Department’s Digital Economy Leadership Team initiated a six-month effort to better understand data gaps related to measuring the economic value of the free flow of information across borders. This effort included meetings with over 30 stakeholder groups from the private and public sectors, a literature review, and a roundtable discussion convened on May 9, 2016, to discuss measurement gaps.

NTIA Shares Insights on Internet Research at TPRC

September 29, 2016 by John B. Morris, Jr., Associate Administrator, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Tomorrow, policy staff from NTIA will be participating in an annual policy research conference where they will be discussing important research about Americans’ computer and Internet use habits. They will be presenting two working papers at the 44th Research Conference on Communications, Information and Internet Policy (TPRC), an annual conference on information, communications, and technology policy, which brings together researchers, policymakers, and advocates from the public, academic, and private sectors. These papers shed light on important policy issues relying on data collected though NTIA’s Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS Supplement).

In the first working paper, Trust in Internet Privacy and Security and Online Activity, NTIA staff used data from the most recent CPS Supplement, which included questions on household privacy and security concerns, to identify certain indicators of distrust in security online. Their analysis reveals that Internet-using households with either serious concerns with Internet privacy or prior experiences with a security breach or harassment were more likely to report that they refrained from a range of online activities, after controlling for other factors.

Digitally Unconnected in the U.S.: Who’s Not Online and Why?

September 28, 2016 by Maureen Lewis, Director, Minority Telecommunications Development, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

When she announced the Commerce Department’s Digital Economy Agenda a year ago, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker emphasized that broadband Internet access and digital skills are critical to the economy’s success.  The digital marketplace has created millions of new jobs in the United States. Digitally connected Americans are the modern workers, creative innovators, and new customers who will help sustain our nation’s global competitiveness. 

But what about those Americans who do not use the Internet? Whether by circumstance or by choice, millions of U.S. households are not online, and thus unable to meaningfully participate in the digital economy. Data from NTIA’s July 2015 Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey confirm that the digital divide persists. In 2015, 33 million households (27 percent of all U.S. households) did not use the Internet at home, where families can more easily share Internet access and conduct sensitive online transactions privately.  Significantly, 26 million households—one-fifth of all households—were offline entirely, lacking a single member who used the Internet from any location in 2015.

Reasons for No Internet Use at Home