The AT&T Issue Brief Library

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Innovating for Social Benefit

Materiality Assessment Topic: Products that enable social and environmental benefit

2020/2025 Goals
  • 2020 Goal: We will enable AT&T customers to lead more sustainable lives by expanding access to technology, further integrating sustainability solutions into products and measuring the impacts.
  • 2025 Goal: AT&T will enable carbon savings 10 times the footprint of our operations by enhancing the efficiency of our network and delivering sustainable customer solutions.

Learn more about our 2020/2025 Goals.

Targets to our 2020/2025 Goals

        In Progress

2020 Target: Demonstrate the environmental and social enablement power of consumer devices and solutions to live smarter, healthier and more independent lives by collaborating—both internally and externally—to help quantify the environmental and social sustainability enablement impacts of AT&T consumer devices and solutions (e.g., Internet of Things, connected car, education, accessibility).

  • PROGRESS: In 2017, Aira was the first product to come out of the AT&T Foundry for Connected Health. Aira’s remote technology uses wearable smart glasses to connect those with diminished vision to a network of certified agents. The visual agents, connected via our reliable and secure wireless network, provide a real-time account of what’s around them so users can engage with their surroundings.
  • In collaboration with the AT&T Advisory Panel on Access & Aging, BSR, G3ict and World Enabled, AT&T compiled insights and proposed guidelines to launch a report titled “Smart Cities for All: A Vision for an Inclusive, Accessible Urban Future,” in June 2017. The report centered on helping cities identify ways in which smart city technologies can adopt a people-first approach to benefit those with disabilities and older citizens. The report complemented the Smart Cities for All initiative launched by G3ict and World Enabled in 2016. The initiative advances a vision of making cities all over the world smarter through more inclusive, accessible design.

2020 Target: Develop and deploy robust methodology to understand the impact of the AT&T network's greenhouse gases on society.

  • PROGRESS: After engaging with leading non-government organizations (NGOs), industry groups and peer companies, AT&T developed a credible methodology to measure the greenhouse gas impacts of customers’ use of AT&T technology in an effort to track progress against our 10x goal. The methodology can be found on our 10x website.

2025 Target: Enhance network efficiency to enable the achievement of the net positive ratio.

  • PROGRESS: As we pursue our 10x goal, which represents a net positive ratio between our operational footprint and the carbon reductions our technology makes possible for customers using our services, we are working to enhance our network efficiency through energy management and the integration of renewable energy. Please see our Energy Management and Greenhouse Gas Emissions issue briefs for more information.

2025 Target: Deliver customer solutions to achieve net positive ratio.

  • PROGRESS: As we pursue our 10x goal, which represents a net positive ratio between our operational footprint and the carbon reductions our technology makes possible for customers using our services, we are engaging customers to understand, measure and promote the benefits they’re achieving. In 2017, we began a collection of 10x case studies that demonstrate and quantify the emissions impacts of 2 interesting technology-use cases: the connected shipping pallet and smart rice farming. These case studies can be found on our 10x website.

Our Action

Innovating for Today & Tomorrow

We’re operating in a world where virtually anything can be connected to the internet—from sensors in cars and traffic lights to utility meters and household appliances. The Internet of Things (IoT) connects everyday objects and machines so they work seamlessly together across modern networks. AT&T is helping companies of all sizes develop IoT solutions to help lower costs, gain efficiencies and improve competitive advantage.

While IoT can help businesses gain a competitive advantage, it can also help address major social and environmental challenges in our world. Through our IoT for Good initiative, we highlight our IoT solutions and projects that can transform the ways we—and our customers—care for society and the planet.

Taking the needs of our communities and the environment into consideration, IoT for Good technological solutions can:

  • Improve peoples’ quality of life;
  • Help communities become cleaner, safer and stronger;
  • Improve peoples’ health, safety and mobility;
  • Make businesses more efficient;
  • Help utilize resources more effectively and improve productivity; and
  • Reduce waste and carbon emissions.

To shape the technologies of tomorrow, we’re building an innovative ecosystem that is open and collaborative. We actively collaborate with bright minds inside and outside AT&T to advance technology and create solutions for society.

Connected Health

Connected technology can help create expanded access to medical services, improve patient outcomes, reduce doctor and hospital visits by using remote patient monitoring, offer insight into conditions and improve accessibility by helping people with disabilities overcome challenges. Because the connected health field is large, AT&T focuses on several areas including mobile caregivers, business IoT solutions, clinical health and in-home help for the independent elderly.

In 2016, we opened the doors to the AT&T Foundry for Connected Health in Houston to form partnerships that allow us to discover how we can use our expertise in connectivity and software to rapidly address the challenges the medical community faces and improve the health care ecosystem for hospitals, caregivers, researchers, administrators and, most importantly, patients. Through our work with the Texas Medical Center (TMC), the largest medical center in the world, we receive critical, real-world feedback from doctors, nurses and patients in the surrounding hospitals and clinics. Since opening in June 2016 through the end of 2017, 315 companies have come through the Foundry for Connected Health. And, we’re not just focusing on big companies and organizations—through TMCx, the TMC accelerator program, we also mentor startups and innovators. 

AUM Cardiovascular, the maker of a handheld device with advanced analytics to help rule-out coronary artery blockages, uses IoT global connectivity provided by AT&T to deliver diagnostic test results to patients in about 10 minutes. The device uses sophisticated acoustic detection and analysis—a new method that looks for Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) risk factors in patients by the sound of blood flow in the coronary arteries.

Medical device technology is improving at a faster rate than ever before, driven in part by the work AT&T is doing. We have a clear opportunity in the connected health care ecosystem to create technology that enhances quality of life.

To learn more about our IoT solutions, visit our AT&T Foundry and IoT websites.

Accessibility

In collaboration with the AT&T Advisory Panel on Access & Aging, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), G3ict and World Enabled, we compiled insights and proposed guidelines to launch a report titled “Smart Cities for All: A Vision for an Inclusive, Accessible Urban Future,” in June 2017. The report centered on helping cities identify ways in which smart city technologies can adopt a people-first approach to benefit those with disabilities and older citizens.

In 2017, Aira was the first product to come out of the AT&T Foundry for Connected Health. Aira’s remote technology uses wearable smart glasses to connect those with diminished vision to a network of certified agents. The visual agents, connected via our reliable and secure wireless network, provide a real-time account of what’s around them so users can engage with their surroundings.

To learn more, visit our Accessibility issue brief.

Vehicle Solutions and Connected Car

In the spirit of innovation and the evolution of the connected life for our customers, we use our AT&T Drive Studio in Atlanta to work with auto companies, individuals and IoT equipment makers from across the globe to develop and test new technologies that improve safety, performance, convenience and entertainment in the connected car. With our more than 5,000-square-foot AT&T Drive Studio, we became the first wireless carrier to open a dedicated connected car research and innovation facility.

We’re working to help make cars safer, more comfortable and more reliable through IoT technologies. Other examples of our collaboration include:

  • American Center for Mobility: We’re collaborating to enable and accelerate automated vehicles and have made a strategic investment in the American Center for Mobility, a designated Department of Transportation Autonomous Vehicle Proving ground in Ypsilanti, MI.
  • Together for Safer Roads (TSR): We’re committed to improving road safety. In 2017, AT&T worked with TSR and cities like Atlanta to improve traffic safety through IoT sensors and analysis of data.
  • 5GAA: AT&T is an acting board member of 5GAA—a coalition of global automakers, suppliers and communications companies that are focused on understanding how advanced mobile networking technologies can increase the safety and efficiency of transportation.

Disaster Response

We are also using innovative methods to support disaster recovery. In Puerto Rico, we deployed our Flying Cell On Wings (COW) drone to assist customers and disaster recovery teams following Hurricane Maria. A Flying COW is essentially a cell site on a drone that, once airborne, provides LTE wireless coverage from the sky to a designated area on the ground. Our drone in Puerto Rico carried gigabytes of data as well as thousands of calls and texts. This was the first time an LTE cell site on a drone was successfully deployed to connect residents after a disaster.  

Learn more in our Disaster Response issue brief.

Governance

Our entire leadership team is responsible for fostering innovation. The Chief Technology Officer (CTO), who is also president of AT&T Labs, oversees organizations responsible for disruptive and incremental innovation through programs such as our LabsFoundry and TIP (The Innovation Pipeline). In addition to our employee-based TIP program, we offer online training, as well as specific localized classes for those employees and teams most engaged in our innovation work.

Our suppliers are also vital to our success. Through the Domain 2.0 initiative, we’re working with suppliers to build a next-generation, virtualized, software-based network. In our Foundry locations, suppliers can sponsor research and work alongside our teams. Suppliers also frequently work in our Labs offices to join our innovation process. Many of our supplier agreements promote innovation through models of shared value—such as joint intellectual property agreements or shared revenue.

For more on AT&T’s innovation programs, visit att.com/innovation or read our blog at attinnovationspace.com.

AT&T Labs

Some of the world’s best scientists and engineers work at AT&T Labs Advanced Technologies and focus their unique research capabilities and expertise on our network and anything that uses our network. They work to invent disruptive technologies that will drive future innovations.

AT&T Foundry

Through our AT&T Foundry, we work with developers, startups and other companies to move ideas to the marketplace up to 3 times faster. Since its launch 7 years ago, the AT&T Foundry has started more than 500 projects and deployed dozens of new products and services. The AT&T Foundry brings the expertise of AT&T innovators into a collaborative environment with industry technology providers and developers. Project leaders get access to our network capabilities, test beds, technology experts and project coaches.

AT&T Foundry represents a collective $100+ million investment, along with technology providers Nokia, Amdocs, Cisco, Ericsson, Intel and Arrow Electronics. The AT&T Foundry has opened innovation centers in 6 cities around the world, located in Atlanta; Houston; Palo Alto, Calif.; Plano, Texas; Mexico City and Ra'anana, Israel.

The Innovation Pipeline (TIP)

We built the TIP program, an online crowdsourcing platform, to tap the collective imagination of our employees. It is one of the largest corporate crowdsourcing sites, with more than 130,000 members who can share new ideas to deliver an effortless customer experience. Since the TIP program started in 2009, more than 50,000 ideas have come from our employees, more than $45 million in seed funding has been allocated to top products and more than 90 projects landed for development. Highlights include:

  • DriveMode is an app developed through the TIP process that helps to reduce the dangers of distracted driving. It’s the brainchild of a call center operator who was personally affected by texting-while-driving.
  • NumberSync allows you to make or receive calls using your mobile number, whether or not your smartphone is handy. It’s the product of an employee who wanted to have a backup emergency phone.

AT&T Developer Program: Hackathons

At AT&T hackathons, we bring together developers, designers and entrepreneurs to design and discuss applications—many of which are aimed at achieving an environmental or social good. Mobile app hackathons have focused on a variety of topics ranging from public safety to women in technology.

AT&T Intellectual Property

Our culture of innovation is grounded in our Code of Business Conduct (COBC), which explains our responsibility to safeguard intellectual property and confirms that “by harnessing the scale of our network to deliver more sustainable solutions, we connect people and businesses seamlessly.”

AT&T Intellectual Property is 1 of the world's largest intellectual property operations with a heritage of innovation that dates back more than a century to Alexander Graham Bell. Our patent portfolio is 1 of the strongest in the telecommunications industry. Our philosophy is to optimally protect AT&T’s intellectual property, respect the intellectual property of others and license or sell AT&T’s intellectual property to others for fostering continued innovation in society. We develop valuable, innovative technologies to create new features and services for customers, and AT&T Intellectual Property offers these technologies to other companies, third-parties and distribution partners.

To learn more, visit the AT&T Intellectual Property website.

Updated on: Aug 20, 2018

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