Our Summer with an EDF Climate Corps Fellow

By Jori Mendel, Strategic Alliance Manger for AT&T Smart Cities
Sep 28, 2016 1:40 PM ET

How do you measure the environmental impact of a smart city? It’s a central question for municipalities across the country that are looking for ways to make cities more efficient and resilient while delivering better services to their citizens. It is not, however, a question with a lot of clear answers – which is why we were so excited to work with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps Fellow and MBA candidate at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chandana Vangapalli, to help quantify savings associated with AT&T Smart Cities initiatives this summer.

Last year, AT&T announced a 2025 goal to enable carbon savings 10 times the carbon footprint of the company’s operations through the deployment of low-carbon technology solutions. With this goal as her guiding principle, Chandana looked at the different ways we can collect both baseline (“before”) and current (“after”) metrics to assess the positive impact of technology deployments by city. In her research this summer, she aimed to establish meaningful metrics that matter to citizens and a seamless methodology to quantify, measure and share the sustainability successes of AT&T Smart Cities.

Chandana assessed carbon, water, waste and energy reductions associated with some of the smart city technologies we plan to deploy in our spotlight cities. She identified key metrics that are meaningful to cities and citizens and worked with us to develop a framework to measure sustainability successes of AT&T Smart Cities as we scale our business. She also created a blueprint of a Smart Cities sustainability dashboard to provide city officials and citizens an easy way to understand the key sustainability benefits.

Enabling citizens and city leaders to make informed decisions is as important as identifying, collecting and analyzing that data in the first place. Deploying technology to have a positive impact in a city is one step, and analyzing the data to measure the effectiveness of that technology is another. But, as Chandana’s work confirmed, effectively sharing that information with the citizens and city officials who rely on the services you are improving is one of the most important parts of what we do.  

It’s bright, innovative minds like Chandana’s that not only help move our company forward, but also create better cities for us all.