Turning Risks into Opportunities

By Tim Fleming, Director of Enterprise Sustainability, AT&T



Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum released its 2017 Global Risks Report, providing ample reading material for the world’s elite as they trekked to the Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Surprising few people, the main risk identified for the year ahead is climate change and specifically the “failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation” by both governments and businesses. But beyond outlining global risks that we should seek to manage, the report highlights a series of key megatrends that are all but inevitable, among them the advancement of technology and the rise of urbanization.

For some, the confluences of these risks and megatrends present an ominous calamity. At AT&T, we recognize it as an opportunity to be part of the solution. By leveraging the power of our technology, we can address these issues head on by providing the connectivity to improve how we use resources, reduce costs and improve peoples’ quality of life.

That is why we are working so hard on devices and machines that allow people to access near real-time information that they can use to make tangible changes. For instance, the technology that powers a connected wheelchair can provide caregivers and clinicians with comfort, performance and location information to allow users more independence. This technology can also help companies better manage their supply chains by tracking the location and condition of their materials in transit, allowing them to create operational efficiencies, cut waste and open new revenue streams. Critical resources, such as water, can be more efficiently and effectively managed. For example, the kind of connectivity solutions that AT&T provides can help cities and businesses remotely monitor and manage their irrigation systems, possibly saving millions of gallons of water in a single year.

Looking to the increasing urbanization of populations across the globe, our technology isn’t just aiming to help businesses run better; it’s also helping to sustain cities by being smarter. According to current projections, by 2050 an estimated 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. Building sustainable solutions for the nearly 7 billion people that will occupy those spaces is critical to the viability of our planet. This is where a “smart city” comes in. A smart city uses technology to revolutionize our daily lives, and helps us improve quality of life, positively impact our planet and open new economic opportunities.

AT&T provides the connectivity that runs through smart cities to help ultimately make them cleaner, safer and stronger. Our Smart Cities organization launched a framework to help us better deploy this technology, with a focus on strengthening infrastructure, engaging with citizens, strengthening public safety and enabling better transportation. 

These efforts help support our goal to enable carbon savings that are 10 times the footprint of our total operations by 2025. We made this goal based partially on a 2015 report by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), which found that the information and communications technology (ICT) sector can enable a 20% reduction of global C02 emissions in coming decades through technology deployment. To do our part, we are leveraging exciting new technologies to deliver energy-saving customer solutions, increase the efficiency of our network, and build on the hundreds of projects we’ve implemented to reduce our energy consumption.

While the world has many challenges ahead, AT&T is focused on using our technology in ways that are not only good for business, but also for our people and for the planet. As we consider the risks and opportunities that await us, AT&T is prepared to harness that innovation and continue providing technology solutions across the globe. Because, while it may be a big world, we are better off tackling the most pressing challenges if we are connected together. 

This blog was first posted on the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) blog.

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KEYWORDS: Ethical Production & Consumption, Energy, AT&T, World Economic Forum, Global e-Sustainability Initiative, ENERGY CONSUMPTION, Smart Cities, connectivity solutions, climate change, Framework, GeSi

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