How a digital dashboard could make cities’ power, water smarter

By: Jori Mendel, AT&T Smart Cities, and Chandana Vangapalli, former Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps Fellow

Technology revolutionizes the way people interact with the world. From video chats to securing homes from thousands of miles away, digital connections bring us closer to what matters most.

This same connectivity can play a critical role in helping cities around the world in the fight against climate change – a fight that will only accelerate in the coming years, with cities and municipalities on the front lines.

Nearly 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030. These urban areas already account for 60-80 percent of energy consumption and 75 percent of carbon emissions, and their impacts will worsen with expansion. Because of their population density, cities are also the most likely to be heavily impacted by water shortages, natural disasters, and heatwaves as climate change progresses.

Smart cities

Understanding how to mitigate these environmental impacts is vital, and the technology that enables cities to be “smart” is a big part of that. Technology can help communities around the world become cleaner, safer, and stronger through connectivity solutions that unlock environmental, social, and economic benefits.

As a provider of Smart Cities technologies, AT&T explores ways to better understand and quantify how technology – and the data insights it generates – can help address these complicated environmental issues. It’s part of the AT&T 2025 goal to enable carbon savings 10 times the carbon footprint of its  operations  by deploying low-carbon technology solutions.

Smart collaboration

Over the summer, we – an Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps Fellow and an AT&T Smart Cities team member – began working on a methodology to measure and share the sustainability of AT&T’s digital solutions. We took a look at carbon, water, waste, and energy reductions associated with some of the Smart City technologies that we’re deploying in spotlight locales, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Miami-Dade County (FL), Chapel Hill (NC), and Montgomery County (MD).

A single water pipe leak can waste almost 400,000 gallons of water per year. The SCOC enables city managers to catch issues like this before they grow.

We also created a blueprint of a Smart Cities sustainability dashboard that will give city officials and citizens an easy way to understand the key sustainability benefits of this technology. The sustainability component will be a part of the AT&T Smart Cities Operation Center (SCOC), a digital dashboard that utilizes secure connectivity and data analytics to give city officials a window into real-time operations, enabling them to keep tabs on power outages, water leaks, traffic issues, and more – all from one location. For example, a single water pipe leak can waste almost 400,000 gallons of water per year. The SCOC enables city managers to catch issues like this before they grow.

Technology plays an increasingly critical role in the transition to a low-carbon economy. As AT&T continues to work hand-in-hand with environmental organizations like EDF to calculate the positive impact of Smart Cities technology, we get closer to unlocking its potential to help citizens and the world around us.

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