The Department of Education (ED) recently launched [Maps.ed.gov/Broadband](http://maps.ed.gov/broadband/) an interactive map that shows schools and their proximity to broadband Internet access speeds across the country. This is an important story for ED, an agency that has a stated goal that all students and teachers have access to a sufficient infrastructure for learning — which nowadays includes a fast Internet connection. The map is based on [open data released last month by the Federal Communications Commission](http://www.broadbandmap.gov/data-download) (FCC). As you can see below, the result is a custom map that shows a unique story — how schools’ Internet access compares across the country.
In addition to being an example of an open data mashup, this map also serves as an example of what can be built with emerging open-source mapping tools. We worked with ED to process and merge the two data sets, and then generated the new map tiles using [Mapnik, an open-source toolkit for rendering map tiles](http://mediashift.org/idealab/2010/10/mapnik-the-coolest-mapping-software-youve-never-heard-of301.html). Then we created the custom overlay of schools and universities using [TileMill, our open-source map design studio](http://developmentseed.org/blog/2011/feb/16/announcing-tilemill-modern-map-design-studio-powered-open-source). Finally, a TileMill layer was added on top of the broadband data.
The Feds’ Open-Source Leadership
It is great to see both the ED and FCC able to leverage open data to make smarter policy decisions. Karen Cator, the director of the office of educational technology at ED has [an awesome blog post about why this mashup matters](http://www.ed.gov/blog/2011/03/broadband-availability-to-u-s-schools-and-colleges/):
“The Department of Education’s National Education Technology Plan sets a goal that all students and teachers will have access to a comprehensive infrastructure for learning, when and where they need it,” Cator writes. “Broadband access is a critical part of that infrastructure. This map shows the best data to date and efforts will continue to gather better data and continually refresh the maps.”