AT&T's Joe Divis at CaaSH's Friday Kickoff Weekend event
AT&T's Joe Divis at CaaSH's Friday Kickoff Weekend event

Tell us a little about AT&T and your role with the company.

My company, AT&T, is one of the world’s most technologically sophisticated and innovative companies. My job at AT&T isn’t necessarily to figure out or develop technology; part of it, however, is to work with those outside the company who embrace it and see how innovation can generate new ideas, solve complex issues and put new products and services into the market.

Why Code for Philly? What about the brigade made you want to work with us?

The work of Code for Philly is important: engaging the civic tech community to help make government more open and effective. We view that mission as important and deserving of support. Because we don’t have an AT&T Foundry here locally, we need to be creative and open to groups, programs and organizations that are creatively using tech to innovate and to improve our community.

Code for Philly's Executive Director Dawn McDougall and Joe at CaaSH's Project Demo Night
Code for Philly's Executive Director Dawn McDougall and Joe at CaaSH's Project Demo Night

What are some outcomes you are hoping to see from your sponsorship of City as a Service?

The opportunity to work with Code for Philly as the presenting sponsor of its biggest, most ambitious civic hacking project, City as a Service Hackathon (CaaSH), was an alignment of the stars. It was also my first personal, up-close exposure to a hackathon: the ideation; the pitches; the social interaction and collaboration; and, finally, the product presentations. There was great passion in the process and a shared vision to use technology and data make the city work better for those who live, work, visit or play here. Witnessing the vision, creativity and hard work of the groups which presented at CaaSH – and the sense of community that a hackathon engenders – validated our support as the presenting sponsor.

Outside of Code for Philly, what are some other community investments that you have made?

Code for Philly is in a unique position to continue to open the spigot, so to speak, of ideas and solutions in Philadelphia and for Philadelphia. Mayor Kenney only recently went on record about the importance of local tech to the future of the city. We couldn’t agree more.

One of AT&T’s more recent contributions went to Coded by Kids, the non-profit started by Sylvester Mobley to bring coding and other critical skills education to under-served neighborhoods in the city. Our support, specifically for basic programming and software engineering concepts along with advanced skills in web and mobile application development, will help Coded by Kids expand its reach and educate more young people so they can pursue their dreams. Likewise, our recent support of Hopeworks ‘N Camden is all about supporting successful and scalable tech education programs that enable young people to succeed in school and pursue meaningful careers. Hopeworks ‘N Camden runs a Technology Training Program that offers underserved students the opportunity to train for careers in web design and GIS, participate in paid internship experiences and prepare for advanced education. Lastly, Taller Puertorriquenos runs a Youth Artist program provides arts-education activities – including tech-generated tools and programs – academic tutoring and college field trips with the goal of keeping under-served Hispanic students engaged in high school and prepared for advanced education.

These three programs are emblematic of what AT&T has been doing since 2008 through our signature philanthropic program, Aspire.

And the winner is... Joe assist Dawn with the CaaSH's Project Demo Night awards
And the winner is... Joe assist Dawn with the CaaSH's Project Demo Night awards

What would you like Code for Philly brigade members know about the AT&T Developer Program, and how might they engage with the AT&T Developer Program?

As I pondered this blog opportunity, I came to realize that in a substantial way working at AT&T is like working in a virtual and never-ending hackathon. Thousands of my colleagues work with the aim to solve complex problems to better serve our customers through tech. Our approach has led to new technologies, apps, products and services that are improving lives at home, work and play.

For instance, since 2011, we’ve opened six AT&T Foundry innovation centers, including, the AT&T Foundry for Connected Health collocated at the Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute in Houston, Texas earlier this year.

These spaces – besides Houston, in Atlanta, Tel Aviv, Plano and Silicon Valley – are the front door for startups and developers who want to work with AT&T, and also serve to foster new projects and fuel discussions on the future of our business and the industry at large. We’re working with developers, startups and other companies to take ideas from concept to customers faster than ever before. Since its launch in 2011, the AT&T Foundry has deployed dozens of new products and services.

AT&T Labs Advanced Technologies goes beyond today’s current solutions to invent disruptive technologies that will drive future innovations. Our research programs are at the tip of the spear in creating advanced technologies in software-defined networks (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV), Big Data, Networking and Service Quality Management and Intelligent Systems.

We’ve created the ultimate company “suggestion box” called TIP (The Innovation Pipeline). It’s quite possibly the largest corporate crowd-sourcing program in the world with more than 130,000 members who can share new ideas to help our customers and first-hand gain insights about our technology. More than 40,000 ideas have come from my AT&T colleagues via the TIP program in the five years since it started. DriveMode, an app developed through the TIP process, helps reduce the dangers of distracted driving.

What should we look forward to seeing from the AT&T Developer Program?

We’ve been innovating in big data research for years, built out of necessity in managing a network of AT&T’s scale; and we are driving some of these technologies externally into open source. For example, we developed RCloud, a groundbreaking social coding environment for big data analytics and visualization.

Our open APIs help developers create simpler and easier connections across devices and to the Internet. The AT&T Developer Program has more than 38,000 registered members. More than 75,000 people visit each month to learn about the tools we provide for mobile app development. (Check out the AT&T Developer Twitter feed: @attdeveloper for the latest news.) And all this doesn’t include the $483 million AT&T has invested in our wireless and wired networks in Greater Philadelphia from 2013 through 2015. We know that without robust networks – fast, secure and responsive – the creative tech ecosystem grinds to a halt. Innovation and disruptive technologies thrive when networks keep pace.

What do you think is the role of a company like AT&T in the tech community here in Philadelphia?

Locally, we seek out tech organizations and programs with which to collaborate. You know about our support of Code for Philly. Then there is the critical tech education, career preparation and business incubator work being done by Coded by Kids, Tech Impact, the Immigrant Innovation Hub, Girl Develop It and Hopeworks ‘N Camden.
We proudly align with these exemplary organizations on the front lines; they are educating, mentoring and encouraging the next generation of technologists, coders, developers, visionaries and leaders.

Yeah, it’s like a never-ending hackathon.