Rep. Anthony Brindisi is gathering stories data to make the need for high-speed broadband in rural America clear.

Like much of rural America, many upstate New Yorkers lack basic internet access. High-speed broadband remains out-of-reach for one-third of rural Americans, and among those who are online, many are burdened by archaic speeds and persistent service interruptions. 

One congressman’s approach to fixing this is first gathering the data on how bad the internet speed is. Rep. Anthony Brindisi is asking his constituents to help him “collect the facts and show Washington and the cable companies the true story.”

About one-quarter of rural Americans say this “digital divide” is a major problem in their community, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center poll. Overall, six-in-ten rural Americans say the lack of access to high-speed internet is problematic. A growing body of evidence supports their concerns. 

Though the “digital divide” between rural and non-rural Americans has narrowed over time, policymakers are ramping up efforts to close the gap once and for all. 

In November, the congressman launched a data collection campaign on his website, which invites residents of his district to run a speed test and report their results. The broadband survey also asks for details on respondents’ internet service providers, and for those who don’t have at-home internet, more information on what’s preventing them from bringing their homes online.

So far, his office says it has collected over 1,000 responses. Brindisi told CBS news that the survey results will help the federal government fill holes in their data. Better data, he said, would give communities more leverage in securing federal grants and help kick start conversations with the FCC on how to expand broadband in the region.