About our application

Welcome to the Broadband Climate Risk Mitigation Tool, a web application designed to help communities and organizations make informed decisions about broadband deployment while considering natural hazard risks.

Our tool combines hazard risk data with broadband access information so communities can maximize the resilience and effectiveness of their broadband infrastructure projects funded under the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.

The challenge: Weather- and climate-related risks to broadband networks

Broadband networks play a critical role in connecting communities and fostering economic growth. However, networks  face numerous challenges posed by extreme weather. Wildfires, extreme temperatures, flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other weather-related events can disrupt and damage broadband infrastructure, leading to service outages and hindering emergency response efforts.

Since retrofitted and new infrastructure for broadband might be expected to have a lifetime of 20 years or more, entities applying for BEAD funding must account not only for current risks  but also for the changing climate and increased frequency of extreme weather events.

Our solution: Informed decisions for resilient broadband deployment

The Broadband Climate Risk Mitigation Tool provides entities with a comprehensive set of resources to evaluate and address weather- and climate-related risks during broadband infrastructure planning and deployment. Our application enables the following:

  1. Initial hazard screening and identification: Identifies which geographic areas require an initial hazard screening for current weather-related risks. By inputting location data, users can assess potential hazards affecting the proposed broadband infrastructure. Hazard risk and broadband access data are overlaid so that users can identify hazard risks in areas with the greatest broadband need.
  2. Mitigation strategies: From selecting appropriate technology platforms to adopting alternative siting and redundancy measures, the tool offers high-level recommendations to safeguard broadband assets.

Data sources

  1. FCC: Form 477 is completed  by internet service providers (ISPs) to report their broadband service offerings. It collects information about the technologies that ISPs use, the speeds they offer, and the areas they serve.
  2. FEMA: National Risk Index (NRI) is a measure of the relative risk of natural hazards for each county and census tract in the United States. In our application, we focus on the NRI’s Expected Building Loss estimates as a proxy for broadband infrastructure vulnerability. The source includes data on  natural hazards, social vulnerability, and community resilience. 

Primary natural hazards by risk score

Hazard Risk Scores are national percentile ranks derived from expected annual building loss estimates in the NRI. Expected annual building loss represents the average economic loss for a community in dollars resulting from natural hazards each year. Click here to read more about how Expected Annual Loss scores are calculated. 

Broadband access

“25/3” and “100/20” are broadband speed profiles denoting internet connections with download/upload speeds of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps and 100 Mbps/20 Mbps, respectively. The former is considered the minimum threshold for broadband service by the federal government, suitable for basic online activities, while the latter offers faster speeds, supporting more bandwidth-intensive tasks like HD video streaming and gaming. 

Fiber access refers to internet connectivity provided through fiber-optic cables, utilizing light signals to transmit data at incredibly high speeds, resulting in reliable and efficient connections.

There are concerns about the accuracy of FCC data on broadband coverage and availability. Some issues include overestimations of service availability in certain areas, incomplete reporting from ISPs, and discrepancies between reported speeds and actual user experiences.

Broadband serviceable locations are residential and business locations (or structures) in the U.S. where fixed broadband internet access service is or can be installed.