2021 Challenge Problem
Defeating the Digital Divide: Internet Costs, Needs, and Optimal Planning
While the “digital divide” has been around for decades, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought it sharply into focus, as many people have seen their work, school, healthcare, grocery shopping, and socializing migrate to a virtual experience—happening within the home, using digital devices. Ensuring that everyone (particularly those in rural and low-income areas) has sufficient access to high-speed internet is a technical, logistical, and economic challenge.
It is not clear which among the many ways to access the internet (e.g., cable, fiber-optic lines, satellites, mobile broadband) can best solve the connectivity issues experienced by people in different types of households and regions. In this year’s problem students were tasked to model cost, needs assessment, and placement of towers for maximizing access to the internet. Photo credit: Photo by Nastya Dulhiier on Unsplash.