This blog post was written by guest blogger John Baekelmans, Chief Technology Officer for Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities organization in the U.K. In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, John volunteered in the Province of Samar, in the community of Daram, the Philippines, from May 1 to 17, 2014.
I am sure most of you remember the deadly Typhoon Haiyan at the end of 2013. Haiyan, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, which devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, on November 8, 2013. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing at least 6268 people in that country alone. Haiyan is also unofficially the strongest typhoon ever recorded in terms of wind speed. As of January 2014, bodies were still being found.
I know this because I was there. In addition to my day job as CTO for Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities program, I also lead Cisco’s Europe, Middle East, and North Africa Disaster Incident Response Team and am a volunteer in the National Disaster Fast Response Rescue team called V-MED of Flanders, Belgium. Having been an officer in the Fire Brigade in Belgium gave me the opportunity to join this fast-response rescue team. I have been to many major disasters around the world in the past 10 years — in Myanmar, Haiti, Pakistan, Chile, and many other places. Haiti was the worst in devastation and personal impact, but Haiyan came close because of the level of poverty and the lack of primary needs.
Haiyan is the deadliest typhoon on record in the Philippines, killing at least 6,268 people there. Photo courtesy The Telegraph
The Internet is evolving, and its next phase – the Internet of Everything – brings together people, process, data and things to create opportunities that benefit people, communities, and the environment. Cisco estimates that 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020, making cybersecurity more vital than ever before. Cisco is engaged in several efforts to prepare young people for careers in the field.
First, Cisco has partnered with CyberPatriot, the national youth cyber education program. Bernie Skoch, CyberPatriot National Commissioner, emphasizes the need for cybersecurity training as breaches and threats become more common on the Internet.
“There are 15,000 attacks per second in the United States by people who would do ill to our systems,” Skoch said. “We have a dire need for cybersecurity professionals in the United States, but we frankly aren’t drawing enough young men and young women to be the designers, to be the planners, to be the operators of these very technical systems.”
It’s an exciting year for Scotland, with several very high profile events happening. On our doorstep in July is the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games - what we call “Glasgow 2014″ - which, after the Olympics and World (soccer) Cup, is the third largest multi-nation sports event in the world. (The Commonwealth Games is sporting celebration among the 53 member states that were mostly territories of the former British Empire). As the official network infrastructure supporter for Glasgow 2014, we are proud to say that Cisco technology will help make the third biggest multi-nation sports competition be more connected than ever.
As part of our involvement, a number of Cisco employees were nominated to take part in the Queen’s Baton Relay. Like the Olympic Torch Relay, the Queen’s Baton Relay is attracting huge engagement from people all over the Commonwealth. I was lucky enough to be selected to represent Cisco in the relay, as a result of my “giving back” participation in our “Ride Across Britain” cycle (where, over the past few years, we have raised tens of thousands of pounds for ParalymicsGB each year) and work with local universities. The video here shows some “point of view” film from my participation in the small town of Uddingston in Scotland, which is close to where I stay and to the local Cisco Scotland office. It was both exciting and humbling to see the large number of people out on the street to see the baton relay and support the baton bearers -- the town center in particular was “mobbed”! And it was a huge change from my usual “day job” working in Data Center and Software Defined Networking services!
Cisco has supported the communities where its employees live and work for close to 30 years. We leverage our resources and technology to multiply individual and nonprofit efforts to improve people’s lives. One area Cisco focuses on is improving student performance in education, particularly in underserved communities. Cisco is therefore proud to partner with nonprofit City Year, a member of the AmeriCorps network. City Year recruits recent college grads who devote one year to help at-risk students stay in school.
Cisco is a national leadership sponsor of City Year and a local team sponsor in San Jose, California, the home of Cisco headquarters. Cisco funding recently supported 8 dedicated corps members at the Cesar Chavez Elementary School. Working full time for 10 months, corps members help high-risk students improve attendance, behavior, and course performance in English and math—the factors known as the early warning indicators for high school dropouts.
Happy graduation to the City Year team Cisco sponsored at Cesar Chavez Elementary School
Today, The Guardian newspaper published an article featuring Cisco partner Digital Divide Data – a nonprofit social enterprise that hires workers for data services jobs in the some of the world’s poorest places, and gives them the education, training, and career counseling they need to rise into the middle class.
“Our ultimate mission is to alleviate poverty,” says Jeremy Hockenstein, 42, founder and CEO of DDD, in the article. “We focus on students who are finishing high school, who are very motivated and very smart and who come from low-income homes.”
Digital Divide Data gives impoverished youth the education, training, and career counseling they need to rise into the middle class.