AT&T is “the first truly modern media company” and has been “changing the way people live, work and play for the past 144 years”. It started with Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone and, since then, AT&T’s legacy of innovation extends to “the invention of the transistor – the building block of today’s digital world – as well as the solar cell, the communications satellite and machine learning”. Other firsts include the introduction of sound to motion pictures to forever change the entertainment experience. More recently, it added WarnerMedia – with its 100 year plus legacy in entertainment – to the company, and launched the first premium network in HBO and introduced the world’s first 24-hour all-news network in CNN. AT&T is a global leader in telecommunications, media and entertainment, with its diverse businesses that provide customers with connectivity, technology, entertainment, news, advertising and more.

AT&T has maintained its commitment to research and development, including through the work of its scientists at AT&T Labs. AT&T also leverages its partnership with ACEMS researchers, including to enable inventive solutions and explore a range of applications of theory relevant to its diversified business units. Historically, this has included network security, graph theory and, more recently, will encompass work on visualisation tools and investigating relationships in multivariate spatio-temporal data.

ACEMS and AT&T are looking to expand the focus of their research collaboration. In the past, they have successfully collaborated to address mathematical challenges in telecommunications network management, to optimise the networks and ensure network safety and security. Looking forward, ACEMS and AT&T Labs hope to collaborate on emergency applications.

AT&T has foundations in mathematical and statistical research. This includes the development of the S language for data analysis, that forms the core of the user interface in R. AT&T researchers brought us many examples of new interactive graphics for data analysis, such as linking between plots and brushing in scatterplot matrices.
The research group has a long history of supporting and collaborating with academics. As a world leading innovator in the communications, media and entertainment industries, AT&T encounters unique challenges (and opportunities), such as those inherent in the scale of data across the organisation’s distinctive and substantial business units. These challenges necessitate robust and scalable solutions, which our partnership with ACEMS can help us to develop.”

Emily Dodwell, AT&T

2019 Highlights

This year, in a recent visit to the USA, ACEMS AI Professor Dianne Cook established a strong relationship with a Principal Inventive Scientist, Emily Dodwell, based at AT&T Labs in New York City.

AT&T Labs exists at the exciting intersection of applied statistics for industry use and academic research opportunities, supporting AT&T’s diverse business units which are global leaders in the communications, media and entertainment industries. Emily Dodwell works in the Data Science and AI Research organisation at AT&T Labs, where she currently focuses on predictive modelling for advertising applications, the creation of interactive tools for data analysis and visualisation, and research concerning ethics and fairness in machine learning. Emily is an R enthusiast committed to promoting gender diversity in the community, and she is an organiser of R-Ladies New York City and a member of R Forwards, the R Foundation task force on women and other underrepresented groups.

From this relationship, a new research collaboration between ACEMS and AT&T has been planned. An application was approved under ACEMS’ Industry Collaboration Support Scheme (ICSS) for Emily Dodwell to visit multiple ACEMS nodes in 2020 to work on “virtual tools to investigate relationships in multivariate spatiotemporal data with a focus on emergency call data”. Emergency call data, like records collected at AT&T, contain measurements on geographic location of call initiation (as triangulated from broadcast and receiver sensors) and end (public safety answering point, PSAP), plus call time, call quality, and length. Metadata such as weather can be joined with the call data. This project will develop interactive data visualisation tools, to enable a user to examine the relationship between these sources of information and assess the variability in response due to different factors.

The proposed visit to ACEMS by AT&T Labs’ Emily Dodwell will enable: the research collaboration with AT&T to be progressed; opportunities for other ACEMS members to hear a presentation from, and network with, our international PO; and facilitated engagements with end-users relevant to this ACEMS-AT&T research project, such as emergency services in Australia.

Emily Dodwell, Principal Inventive Scientist at AT&T Labs (L) with ACEMS’ collaborator Professor Dianne Cook (R).

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