Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Papers in Applied Geography


Broadband, agriculture, GIS, spatial analysis, remote sensing


High-speed broadband internet access is a critically important issue for many aspects of daily life, yet populations in rural areas are often unserved or underserved with reliable internet connectivity. Expanding broadband internet coverage in rural areas may have significant economic potential, especially since it enables precision farming which in turn increases yields, particularly for row crops such as corn and soybeans. This paper introduces methods that utilize GIS spatial analysis and remote sensing to assist in efforts to expand rural broadband access using case study counties in Illinois. Specifically, the methods presented here: (1) quantify current cropland production as well as future potential production in currently unserved or underserved rural areas; and (2) automate mapping of vertical assets from Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data that may be utilized as high points to expand broadband coverage. Collectively, these methodologies may be used for policy advocacy and to inform the decision-making process as future broadband expansion initiatives are considered in rural areas.

Funding Source

This work was supported by the Illinois Innovation Network under a Sustaining Illinois Seed Grant and completed in partnership with the Illinois Soybean Association. This article was published Open Access thanks to a transformative agreement between Milner Library and Taylor & Francis.




First published in Papers in Applied Geography, 2024.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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