AT&T, federal partners launch data portal for weather resiliency planning

A new information portal makes the climate-change-related data that AT&T uses to inform its own network resiliency planning available to communities so that they can access free, sophisticated data on anticipated local weather and climate-related hazards.

The Climate Rick & Resilience (ClimRR) data portal gives state, local, tribal and territorial emergency managers and community leaders “free access to localized data about future climate risks that can be used to explore strategies for resilience,” AT&T said in a release. ClimRR initially includes data on future hazards related to temperature, wind, precipitation and draught, with modeling on wildfire and flooding risks to be added in the coming months, the partners said.

The project originated with AT&T turning to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and its Center for Climate Resilience and Decision Science to “produce … climate projections in ClimRR for the company’s own adaptation efforts,” the company said—and through its collaboration with Argonne and FEMA, the underlying data is now being offered for free for community risk planning. AT&T provided “foundational funding for much of the data”, while the Federal Emergency Management Agency chipped in on funding for development and maintenance of the portal itself. Argonne scientists conduct all of the modeling.

“AT&T assesses climate factors in its own operations to ensure the company’s infrastructure can meet customer needs in the face of increasing threats from climate change,” the company said in its release. “Risks like flooding, wildfire, drought and wind are integrated into network resilience efforts and infrastructure planning processes. The company has accumulated years of experience interpreting the data. This expertise helped inform the creation of ClimRR to ensure the climate projections are actionable for local communities.”

Network resiliency—including hardening of infrastructure, ensuring back-up power and offering rapidly available deployable assets during disaster recovery—has become particularly important to AT&T as it builds out and maintains the FirstNet network for first responders across the country (which includes FEMA as a customer).

AT&T went on to say that one in three Americans said that they personally were affected by an extreme weather event in the past two years. “These climate impacts, which are becoming more frequent and intense, can vary not just from state to state, but even at the local level. ClimRR provides peer-reviewed climate datasets in a non-technical format and puts high-resolution, forward-looking climate insights into the hands of those who need them most. … Access to this information will assist leaders as they strategically invest in infrastructure and response capabilities to protect communities for future generations,” AT&T said.

“While fortifying the AT&T network against climate change is critical for the millions of people who rely on the connectivity we provide, resiliency can’t be built in a vacuum,” said Charlene Lake, chief sustainability officer and SVP of corporate social responsibility at AT&T. “Our world is interdependent. We want other organizations and communities to see where they’re potentially vulnerable to climate change and take steps to become resilient. That’s why we’re excited to make our data publicly available and to work closely with FEMA and Argonne to get it into the right hands.”

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