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Continuing Conversation: Rick Smolan and the human face of big data

As more devices, people and things become connected to the Internet, an unprecedented amount of data will be generated: data which can become a powerful tool for solving some of the greatest challenges facing our planet.

Carlos Dominguez and photojournalist Rick Smolan

Carlos Dominguez and photojournalist Rick Smolan

I spoke with well-known photojournalist Rick Smolan about how we can turn data into wisdom, and the importance of capturing data in real time. Rick has worked at Time, Life and National Geographic and is the creator of the popular Day in the Life book series. In his most ambitious project to date, he tackled the subject of big data in the Human Face of Big Data project.

I talked with Rick about what his project is discovering, and the first part of our conversation was published in the blog Is there a human face behind big data?

Cisco co-sponsored the project because we believe we’re entering an era of the “Internet of Everything” which will bring data as well as people, processes and things together to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before.

In today’s blog, we continue the conversation by focusing on how big data can improve our communities and the world.

Q:  Rick, your project’s premise is that real-time visualization of data streaming in from satellites, billions of sensors, RFID tags, GPS-enabled cameras and smart phones, is beginning to enable us to sense, measure and understand aspects of our existence in ways never possible.  Your recently published book The Human Face of Big Data has some wonderful examples on harnessing data to improve the world – do you have a favorite?    Read More »

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Cisco BIG Awards: Calling All UK Entrepreneurs

It’s incredible to think that we are only a month away from closing entries for this year’s BIG Awards. This is the second BIG Awards competition we have run in the UK since the British Innovation Gateway programme was announced in January 2011 by Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers and Prime Minister David Cameron.

The annual open innovation competition identifies and offers financial and mentor support for the next generation of the UK’s digital entrepreneurs and startup companies.

It seems like yesterday that we were at the top of the Gherkin, launching this year’s competition and hearing about the great progress that last year’s winners – Snap Fashion, Digital Shadows, and Six 3 – have made over the past 6 months. Now the sun has come out (briefly), the football season is over, and we start to think about summer and the announcement of our 20 short-listed semi-finalists.

Read More »

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Comcast and Cisco Ride the Cloud

OpenStack Summit Demonstration Provides Sneak Peek into Future of Networking and TV

Content will always be king.  But soon, with powerful cloud technology, Pay TV customers will be sitting on the throne, whether they are on their couch, in the café, or on the bus.    

Late last month at the OpenStack Summit in Portland, Comcast drew back the curtain on the future of television, demonstrating how cloud infrastructures can power exciting new TV experiences.

Mark Muehl, senior vice president of NE&TO product engineering and technology at Comcast, demonstrated the company’s flagship X1 cloud-based user interface, powered by an OpenStack cloud, during his keynote presentation.  Comcast and Cisco are working closely together to implement next-generation video services, like the X1 guide, on an OpenStack foundation, which enables both agility and scale.  

At Cisco we are “all-in” on OpenStack. We are investing heavily to make it the reliable, scalable, agile & feature-rich platform service providers need to deploy exciting new cloud-based video services.  Last month’s demonstration provided a sneak peek into the ongoing strategic collaboration between Comcast and Cisco in programmable networking. But it also illustrated a larger theme: cloud technologies, networking and applications are coming together in new and exciting ways. 

Video: Comcast’s Mark Muehl describes how Comcast is using OpenStack and shows the audience a live demo of its Xfinity service running on OpenStack.

Through Cisco’s Open Network Environment (ONE) initiative, we have the widest range of solutions in the industry that deliver an open and programmable network. Cisco ONE, which embraces OpenStack, software defined networking (SDN), and network function virtualization (NFV), has dozens of active customers, including major service providers, massively scalable data centers, government organizations, and multiple Fortune-100 companies. 

Through our work with global service providers who see the potential of open, programmable networks, we are continuing to build the foundation for the next-generation Internet.  The new Internet will become a platform to enable new cloud-centered applications, such as cloud-based DVR, through which video subscribers can store their favorite content in the cloud and access it from any device, anywhere.

Cisco is very proud to be working with leading entertainment and technology leaders like Comcast, and we look forward to helping the Pay TV industry make the successful transition to standards-based cloud technology.

How Partners Can Effectively Provide Learning Opportunities that Lead to Lasting Change


This is the fifth blog in the Cisco Partner Talent series, helping partners attract, develop, and retain the right people with the right skills at the right time. This month’s blog post goes into detail about stage five of the Cisco Fit4Talent Employee Lifecycle: Coaching and Mentoring. 

In my previous blog post, I discussed the value of learning—for your employees’ success and your firm’s bottom line. This month, I’m digging deeper, sharing the important link between behavior change and learning, based on recommendations by Workforce Management on the five steps employers need to take for improved performance.

Why is this important? Well, do you want to increase your firm’s profit? Productivity? Competitive edge? If the answer is yes, and I imagine it would be, you can accomplish all of that—and more—by educating your workforce.

And if you’re not convinced by all of the benefits, here’s a scary stat: people involved in training typically forget most of what they’ve learned within 60 to 90 days. So how can you prevent this knowledge “drain”? Let’s use golf as an example.  Read More »

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Anytime, Anywhere Efficiency


As today’s workforce continues to become more mobile and adopt the “on-the-go” mentality both at home and at work, their needs are also evolving. Companies need to respond. Empowering employees to work anytime, anywhere will improve efficiencies and increase productivity. When the staff takes their work outside of office walls, an environment of knowledge, sharing and creativity across local, regional and global teams is created naturally. The Internet of Everything (IoE) is a clear driver in this new collaborative environment as companies continue to connect more people, devices, processes and data.  This collaborative environment, in turn, also empowers a company as a whole through the insights and data exchanged.

In one of my previous posts, How Not Where Is What Matters Most in a Collaborative Work Environment, I noted that mobile and remote workers have higher performance ratings than traditional workers. Are these connections increasing the comfort level with utilizing remote resources on a consistent basis, such as remote mentoring or collaboration with global teams? Is it the extended connection to global colleagues and customers to obtain better insight and decisions? Or, is it the combination? Read More »

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