Connected Cities and the Power of Data

05 Mar 2014 | Tim Fleming

Tagged: Connected World, Planet, Technology,

Growing up, I was fascinated by numbers and data. I had a notebook where I would keep track of the results of every card or board game I played.  When I was older, and personal computers were introduced, my favorite software wasn’t a video game, it was a spreadsheet.  It was then a natural progression of course that I would keep lists of just about everything on a 5 ¼ floppy disk.  I was looking for trends, patterns, the story that these bits of data might tell.

When applied on a large scale, data can be extraordinarily powerful. That’s why the new collaboration between AT&T and IBM is so exciting to me.

When applied on a large scale, data can be extraordinarily powerful. That’s why the new collaboration between AT&T and IBM is so exciting to me. By combining our analytics platforms, cloud, network and security products, we are going to help cities and midsize utilities analyze heaps of data to find efficiencies in things like traffic patterns and electricity use. Machines in a variety of industries are already collecting data; we’re working to find new, innovative ways to use it.

Machines talking to one-another, or machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies, is what makes up the “Internet of Things,” an area we’ve been interested in for some time. Last year, we sponsored a study, Machine to Machine Technologies: Unlocking the Potential of a $1 Trillion Industry that highlights the potential to collect data and how this data could lead to a host of efficiencies that could accelerate environmental and social sustainability.

Implementing these applications at the regional level, in cities and among midsize utilities, is where the power of these solutions is very real. In bringing this suite of solutions to cities, for example, planners will be able to analyze traffic movement and transportation leading to increased parking capacity where it’s needed the most, identification of inefficiencies to free up traffic jams, and monitoring of social media updates from citizens reporting on weather or accidents so that resources can be allocated appropriately and at a local level in near real time.

For us, this could potentially implicate fewer circles around the block in search for parking, less time wasted in traffic jams, and ultimately curbing vehicle emissions. It also means more efficient emergency response when it’s needed most as well as a host of other things – some of which we’ve thought of and some of which we haven’t!

The possibilities are endless. That’s the power of data. And I can’t wait to see what new stories the data will tell.

About the Author

Tim Fleming

Director of Sustainability Operations


Tim Fleming is a Director of Sustainability Operations at AT&T, focused on embedding sustainability into AT&T’s operations, products and services while positioning Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as an important sustainability solution.

comments powered by Disqus