My descent into Las Vegas last month was an important reminder of the imminent – but not inevitable – water crisis facing the United States. 

Even from the sky and a slightly blurred airplane window, it was impossible to miss the white markings, or “bathtub rings,” surrounding Lake Mead. These rings are visible evidence of the serious water problem plaguing the country. According to the Earth Observatory at NASA, Lake Mead’s water level has not been this low since 1937 and continues to threaten the power producing capacity of the Hoover Dam.

Nevertheless, with these sobering thoughts in mind, I walked on to the show floor at CTIA Super Mobility 2016 feeling optimistic.

The AT&T booth was the centerpiece of the exhibit hall and brought together an impressive array of IoT solutions, from our Connected Life portfolio including cars, homes and wearables, to industrial solutions like asset management and drones.

My favorite AT&T solutions on display were those related to smart cities, a comprehensive technological network that optimizes how we use valuable resources like energy and water. These innovative solutions are currently being deployed across the country as part of our Spotlight Cities initiative.

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And, although visitors at the booth could see real solutions in the areas of smart lighting, transportation and waste management, I was still most impressed with the acoustic water leak detection. Hidden inside some very old technology is an acoustic sensor, which can listen for and detect small leaks before they become large leaks.   

The technology that weaves through AT&T’s smart cities has the potential to enable large-scale water savings. Using technology to make water utilities more efficient can help to save billions of gallons of water each year. In fact, California as a whole loses as much as 228 billion gallons a year this way.

Even more exciting is that these sensors have been deployed right outside the convention center in the heart of the Las Vegas strip and could have a real impact on the water scarcity issues facing the city.

Needless to say, as I cruised back over Lake Mead on my flight home, I left Las Vegas overwhelmed by all of the cutting-edge technology I had seen, and enthusiastic about the ways in which IoT can help address the issue of water sustainability. 

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About the Author

Tim Fleming

AT&T Director – Enterprise Sustainability

Fleming

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. Tim has held a wide range of positions at AT&T, including roles in the Sustainability, External Affairs, Corporate Real Estate and IT organizations. He received his MBA from The University of Missouri - St. Louis and is a certified Carbon Reduction Manager (CRM) and Project Management Professional (PMP).

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