Just by downloading a smartphone app, you could help extend broadband infrastructure to rural counties.

The National Association of Counties (NACo), of which Kitsap County is a member, partnered with the Rural Community Assistance Partnership and Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation to address the need for affordable high-speed internet for rural communities across the country. To that end, they created a mobile app that helps identify areas with low or no internet connectivity, and shares that information with people that can help bring high-speed internet to those areas.

The app, available on both iOS and Android, is called TestIT, and uses an open-source sampling tool developed by Measurement Lab to aggregate broadband speeds from mobile device users across the country and helps demonstrate where broadband infrastructure investments are needed.

“Access to affordable, high-speed internet is essential to connect people and places and compete in today’s economy,” said NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase in a prepared statement. “Outdated broadband mapping techniques limit Congress’ ability to accurately identify and allocate broadband resources across much of America. This mobile app will help identify gaps in broadband coverage and help guide federal, state and local decision-making to guide federal, state, and local decision-making.”

A 2018 Microsoft study found that 19 million rural Americans do not use broadband, largely because they lack access to the service. TestIT helps users be active participants in the effort to bring awareness to communities lacking such high-speed internet connectivity.