By Tim Fleming, Director, Enterprise Sustainability, AT&T
Cities account for 60-80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions on the planet. Because of their population density, cities are also likely to feel the impacts of climate change – including water shortages, more intense natural disasters and heat waves.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Mayors across the nation are leading action to address the impacts of climate change – in terms of mitigation and adaptation. And, they are turning to technology for support. Cities such as Atlanta and Dallas now have Chief Resiliency Officers and are utilizing Smart Cities technology to create a holistic approach to improving sustainability and increasing public safety.
In Chicago, for example, city officials are working with The Array of Things, an environmental monitoring project, to collect real-time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure and activity for research and public use. AT&T is a provider of wireless connectivity for the project.
Technology also plays a critical role in helping cities around the world address environmental challenges. City officials and citizens alike can optimize how they use valuable resources like energy and water by using this technology. Tools like smart light posts can help improve traffic congestion, while leak-detection sensors can help monitor and decrease water waste.
As a leading provider of these Smart Cities technologies, AT&T is looking to better understand and measure the environmental benefits of our products and services. According to the Global e-Sustainability Initiative’s SMARTer2030 report, increased use of information and communications technology (ICT) can enable a 20% reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, holding them at 2015 levels. That translates to carbon benefits nearly 9.7 times higher than our industry’s own footprint. Recognizing an opportunity – and knowing AT&T’s technology solutions can enable people to reduce their own carbon footprint – we set a goal to help customers reduce 10 times the emissions of our company’s own operations by 2025. Measuring the impacts of smart cities technology can help us get there.
Additionally, with a greater global need to focus on water sustainability, we are focusing on delivering solutions that help cities address this growing concern. Through our work with smart irrigation systems – which have saved 15 billion gallons of water in a year – and our collaboration on NIST’s Global City Smart Cities Challenge, we are able to conserve water through smart sensors and cloud technology. To help reduce leaks in water systems, we offer technology that uses acoustic Internet of Things (IoT) sensors on our cellular network to help pinpoint the location of leaks in pipes.
These products are most powerful when they can work together in the urban ecosystem. In fact, we have developed the Smart Cities Operation Center, a platform to give municipality leadership a full view of their communities’ conditions in near-real time from one central location. We recently deployed this solution in Miami-Dade County.
This year, we’ll continue to work with third-party environmental organizations like BSR to calculate and measure the environmental benefits of Smart Cities technology. We are also working to deploy the Smart Cities Operation Center internally, helping us monitor and manage our own environmental footprint and gather important data to inform the dashboard. We have been working hard to manage our carbon emissions and are proud to be recognized by organizations like CDP for our efforts.
We know technology has the potential to transform communities, helping cities address the most pressing environmental issues facing their citizens. Through our work with communities across the country, AT&T will continue to hone the technology that weaves through our connected world to maximize positive impacts on our planet.
Tim Fleming is the Director of Enterprise Sustainability at AT&T. In this role, he works with business and government customers to look at how they can use technology to optimize resource use and improve environmental performance. He combines his expertise in environmental sustainability and technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Cities to drive measurable value for customers and society.