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NERV: The Brain Behind Networked Disaster Response at Cisco

Hurricane season is upon us, and storms have already begun to harass the Gulf Coast with torrential rains and violent winds. The threat of such a storm doesn’t cross my mind as I sit in my cubicle in San Jose, enjoying the comforts of an air-conditioned office and a hot cup of coffee on my desk. But behind building J on Cisco’s San Jose campus, Rakesh Bharania and the Cisco Tactical Operations (TacOps) team are on 24/7 alert, ready to respond the moment an earthquake strikes or a tornado touches down anywhere in the world.

I had the privilege of visiting Rakesh and his team this week, getting a behind-the-scenes look at Cisco’s investment in using networking technology to help those in need when disaster hits.

After disaster strikes, the TacOps team can deploy within 72 hours – the most critical stage of a response.  When a disaster cripples communications systems, the TacOps team can establish satellite-based communications  so first responders, government agencies, and relief organizations can coordinate relief efforts and speed delivery of food, water, shelter, and medical care to those affected.

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Cisco Employees Paddle to Fight Cancer

July 11, 2014 at 6:00 am PST

barbara_chiuThis post was written by guest blogger Barbara Chu, Managing Director of Cisco Hong Kong and Macau

Under the throbbing beat of the drum and supported by lots of cheering supporters, our devoted Cisco Dragon paddlers dashed to the finish line at the Hong Kong Stanley International Dragon Boat Championship, while achieving the goal of raising HK$100,000 (US$12,900) for the Hong Kong Cancer Fund.

Life is not just about work, and that is why we initially brought Cisco employees together to form the Cisco Dragon team back in 2007 – not just to enter the championship that takes place every year on the Dragon Boat Festival (the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, usually in June) at Stanley Beach in Hong Kong, but also to encourage work-life balance and facilitate the well-being of our employees, and our friends and partners.

Cisco Dragon dashing to the finish line

Cisco Dragon dashing to the finish line

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Cisco Executive Volunteers to Help Typhoon Victims

June 30, 2014 at 6:00 am PST

web_johnThis 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 in that country alone. Photo courtesy The Telegraph

Haiyan is the deadliest typhoon on record in the Philippines, killing at least 6,268 people there. Photo courtesy The Telegraph

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Cisco Prepares Young People for Cyber Security Careers

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.”

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Cisco, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and My Day in the Queen’s Baton Relay

June 25, 2014 at 8:47 am PST

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!

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