The Infrastructure Behind Social Media

17 Dec 2013 | Susan Diegelman

Tagged: Connected World,

I recently attended Atlantic LIVE’s Energy and Infrastructure Super Summit where panelists discussed the importance of investing in America’s infrastructure, improving the environmental performance of buildings and reducing energy and water use. Atlantic encouraged the audience to tweet during the event, and as I looked around the room, it appeared that many people were in fact using their smartphones and tablets to live tweet.

I enjoyed participating in the online discussion, which added another layer of engagement between presenters, in-person and online attendees. Indeed, the day was filled with fascinating, “tweetable” tidbits such as the fact that ARPA-E is studying how to capture heat energy from desert sand by reverse engineering “dust devil tornados.” 

The real-time social media engagement during the Summit was a small demonstration of our increasingly digital lives and of the growing demands on America’s networks.

The real-time social media engagement during the Summit was a small demonstration of our increasingly digital lives and of the growing demands on America’s networks. Every tweet or picture shared, and every conference live streamed, generates data that must travel over complex broadband infrastructure. Mobile data traffic on AT&T’s national wireless network has increased more than 30,000 percent from January 2007 through December 2012, and this exponential growth is continuing. More modern infrastructure is required to support our increasingly digital, connected lives, which is why AT&T has committed to a multi-year, multi-billion dollar investment to deploy fully IP-enabled networks. 

In addition to investing in network performance, we’re also investing to minimize the environmental impacts of operating our networks. The equipment that supports Broadband generates a lot of heat, which can in turn increase energy and water use to cool the facilities that house this equipment. In response, AT&T increased network energy efficiency by 57 percent between 2008 and 2012 and invested in 14,300 energy efficiency projects from 2010-2012. 

Together with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), we’ve also looked at the relationship between energy and water, since energy generation is water-intensive and the infrastructure communities use to clean and distribute water uses a substantial amount of energy. We set a goal to reduce our annualized water consumption by 150 million gallons by the end of 2015 through improving building cooling processes, and we created a toolkit at that helps other organizations reduce their own water use related to cooling by 14-40 percent. My colleague John Schulz and EDF’s Brendan FitzSimons discussed the energy-water relationship and making the business case for water investment at the Summit, and their discussion is viewable here

As more people and functions move online and connect to the Internet of Things, AT&T will continue investing in the modern network infrastructure that keeps America competitive. We will also continue collaborating with experts to minimize the energy and water impacts of these networks. 

So keep on tweeting, streaming and downloading and know that we’re working diligently behind the scenes to deliver faster speeds while minimizing our environmental impacts.

This post originally appeared on the BlueGreen Alliance BlueGreen Blog.

About the Author

Susan Diegelman

Director, Public Affairs, AT&T


Susan brings 20 years of professional experience to AT&T Public Affairs. A veteran of the enterprise software and hosting industries, Susan is well-versed in marketing communications and market strategy in the IT and Telecom industries. Having Joined AT&T’s Public Affairs team in June 2013, she works closely with stakeholders in the seniors and disability communities as well as the education and energy industries.

Susan formerly served as the Director of the Strategic Messaging at AT&T Business Solutions. Previous to that, she held the position of Marketing Director for AT&T’s GEM and Wholesale marketing team. In these roles Susan worked across corporate resources to establish public relations and marketing programs.  Susan lead the teams responsible for development of thought leadership content, content merchandizing strategies, segment advertising and collateral and managed a robust events program at the regional and national levels.

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