Unhappy with your current Internet provider, but not sure what your options are? Recently moved, or house hunting, and want to know if broadband Internet access is available at the new location? In the past, finding answers to these questions would involve a significant amount of Internet research and you still might miss potential service options. The new interactive Maryland Broadband Map makes answering these questions much easier.
The development team at Towson University’s Center for GIS (CGIS) spent an arduous summer working with our partners internally and at the Maryland Broadband Cooperative and Salisbury University to bring the map application to fruition. We’ve blogged about the data collection effort, and the initial grant award in previous posts.
Getting started is easy.
Visit the Web site, type a Maryland address into the address textbox along the top of the map, and hit “GO.” The map will zoom to the address, and a green highlight will outline the census block for the location. The Results tab in the left panel will then display information about the types of broadband service available in the area. You’ll see an abbreviation in parentheses for each service type, which you can then match to the providers who deliver those services. Hyperlinks to provider Web sites help you quickly find more provider-specific details.
What else can you do with the map?
Besides the address search and service report, the map offers a number of additional features.
- Get information on any location in Maryland
By single clicking anywhere in the state, you can initiate the service report for the location of interest. If an address can be linked to the location, you’ll see the full street address. If no address can be linked to the location, you’ll see standard latitude and longitude coordinates in the results.
- Revisit previous locations
The Results tab includes a drop down list of locations you previously visited during your viewing session so you can easily return to a location.
- Report unserved areas
Two buttons on the Results tab let you communicate potential errors on the map. You can use the error reporting buttons to let us know of errors on the map, such as service types or a specific unserved location (such as your home). We strive hard for accuracy, but sometimes our data isn’t perfect. Your input helps make the map better.
- Use social media links
Currently, we provide links to share the Maryland Broadband Map URL through Twitter and Facebook. You can also share the map through email, with an option to include the address or location information and map view just as you see it on your screen.
- Print out reports
By clicking the yellow Print icon in the Results tab, you can print the map, service, and provider information to a one- or two- page PDF, allowing you to take the results with you. The PDF report also includes phone numbers to contact the providers about their service options.
- Explore data
The Data tab in the left panel lets you view the statewide coverage of various service types on the map. You can see how close a given service type may be to a location, as well as view the availability of a service type over a region (such as your county).
- Use the Help section to answer questions
Along with additional information regarding working with the map, the Help documents include a glossary of terms and simple definitions of service types.
Why do we show the census block?
In most cases the Internet providers supplied their broadband coverage data to the Maryland broadband mapping team by census blocks. A census block can be bounded by streets, roads, or creeks, and can include no or many households. This means that while your census block may be reported as being served by a particular service type or provider, your individual address or site might not be served. This problem of precision exists most typically in rural areas and along the outer edges of provider service areas. If this problem exists at your address, please let us know by using the “Report an unserved area” button on the Results tab.
I hope this overview helps in your personal search for broadband. If it does, please let us know by emailing us or leaving a comment.
Visit http://www.mdbroadbandmap.org/ for more information regarding the Maryland Broadband Mapping Initiative.