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We don’t need ‘The Rock’ to save the day, we just need to ‘Get Social’!

Mobile applications and sensors are commonly used to monitor traffic, health & wellness and incidents such as road traffic accidents.  But what about the threat of catastrophic disasters such as earthquakes where the loss of life can be unprecedented?

The sun drenched, Californian city of Pasadena is known for hosting the annual Rose Bowl Football game.  It is also located near the infamous San Andreas Fault (SAF).  If you paid attention in geography class at school or if you’ve seen the latest Hollywood blockbuster, ‘San Andreas’  starring ‘The Rock’, you’ll know that this means the city is at risk from earthquakes.

The Rock

Can ‘The Rock’ save the day?

It is suspected that one day California will be hit by The ‘Big One’.  This is a hypothetical earthquake of a magnitude ~8 or greater that is expected to happen along the SAF. Such an earthquake will result in devastation to human civilization within about 50-100 miles of the fault in urban areas such as Palm Springs, Los Angeles and San Francisco. No one knows when ‘The Big One’ will happen because scientists cannot predict earthquakes with any precision.  However, technology is providing them with data that in time will give Californian residents a fighting chance of survival.

Seismometers are highly sensitive instruments that detect seismic activity that occur before earthquakes strike. Unfortunately, due to their cost, the number of seismometers in California are limited.  The Southern California Seismic Network operates just 350 seismic stations and the Northern California Seismic Network has a further 412.

With the threat of ‘The Big One’ forever looming, The Caltec Institute in Pasedena embarked on a project to determine how they could provide a blanket of cheap Seismometers across the state.

Their answer? Smartphones! Yes, really!

Research conducted proved that accelerometers found in most smartphones are sensitive enough to detect large earthquakes.

Creating the ‘Community Seismic Network’ – Caltech is encouraging residents to opt-in to turn their smart phones into mobile seismometers by simply downloading an application called ‘Crowdshake’ onto their android device.

Caltec have said: “if only 1 percent of users in the area opted into the scheme, that few hundred seismometers would be augmented by several hundred thousand additional sensors giving sufficient intelligent processing”.

So how does it work?

Upon downloading the mobile application an algorithm executes in the background of the mobile device.  Algorithms are monitored and when seismic motion is detected by the accelerometer, a message is sent to a Cloud Fusion Center which includes the time, location, and estimated amplitude of the data that triggered the message.

Mobile seisomemetres

The benefit of the Community Seismic Network is huge.  A dense, city-wide seismic network could be used to detect earthquakes rapidly after they start and measure the strength of shaking accurately as it unfolds.

What would this mean to Californian residents? Well, it will enable immediate action to be taken to prevent damage, such as stopping trains and elevators, stabilizing the power grid, and deploying emergency teams.

This is an astounding example of the Internet of Everything! People, data, process and things coming together to save lives in real-time!

Whilst the application is currently a research prototype and not yet fully deployed for public use, Caltech anticipate that the capability of real-time early warning may convince users to download and install the application when it is readily available.

So quite simply, it pays to ‘get social’ especially on those days when ‘The Rock’ isn’t around the save the day!




The Next Big One: Detecting Earthquakes and other Rare Events from Community-based Sensors.

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Onward California: UC and Cisco celebrate a long-standing collaboration

Whether you know it or not, the University of California has probably played a part in your day — from the batteries developed for the hybrid car you drive, research that helped grow the fruits and vegetables you eat, or friends and family members that may have attended or work at one of the world-class UC campuses, national labs, or life-saving medical centers.

And Cisco’s connections with UC run deep. According to LinkedIn, nearly 5,100 Cisco employees have a UC degree.

The UC system has launched the Onward California tour to encourage thousands of passionate supporters to share why they think UC makes California better. The tour celebrates some great UC people and innovations, many of which may surprise you, and has some fun, interactive ways you can share your UC connections.

As a California-based company, we’re proud to host a stop and encourage our employees, regardless of where you went to college, to join UC staff in celebrating the collaboration.

UC’s Onward California Mobile Tour will be coming to Cisco’s San Jose Campus on September 17, 2012 in the parking lot between bldgs. 4 & 5 from 11 am – 2 pm.  Come show your support for UC and for higher education in California, and get a free ice cream treat. We look forward to seeing you there!

Learn more about the campaign, and some of the groundbreaking research conducted through the UC system at

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Calling All Nonprofits: Does Your Video Tell a Powerful Story?

Did you know that by the end if 2012, videos will account for 50 percent of all Internet traffic?

Online videos are powerful storytelling tools. Many nonprofits are using them to attract donors and volunteers, and to multiply the impact they can have on the people and communities they serve.

As a sponsor of the 2012 DoGooder Nonprofit Awards, Cisco will get a chance to recognize four nonprofits that have successfully used video to create meaningful, positive change. Read More »

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Filling the Void: School Districts Embrace Telepresence to Save Money and Share Resources

With budgets tighter than ever, school administrators are finding new ways to collaborate with other schools and districts hundreds of miles away.  Instead of spending money on flights and hotels to travel across the state and share best practices with others in their field, teachers, principals and superintendents in several California schools are now using telepresence to get that same face-to-face interaction without leaving town.

Fontana Unified School District (FUSD) in Southern California, for example, is a huge district – 41,000 students at 40 schools across 25 miles. FUSD is the latest school district to incorporate telepresence in order to offer their students the best programs possible — and not only prepare them for college, but also prepare them for the real world.  In such a large district, telepresence is a vehicle that allows the district to offer the same opportunities to every student at every school, and save time and money because administrators don’t have to travel across town for meetings.

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Cisco urges Californians to vote No on Prop 23

Californians know how to invest in the future. Believing in our collective ability to drive towards positive change, Cisco urges Californians to vote No on Prop 23.

For decades, California has led the way when it comes to addressing global warming in the US with a proven track record of not only achieving impressive results, but also stimulating investment in new businesses and technologies creating thousands of new jobs. From California’s imposition of stricter-than-federal tailpipe emissions regulations to its global leadership in increasing energy efficiency per unit of GDP growth, Californians know how to address societal challenges in ways that increase economic prosperity. By investing in the future, not living in the past, California can and should do both.

Doing both means that you we look at challenges as opportunities, you evaluate threats by thinking about them differently. Doing both rejects “zero sum” thinking in favor of collaborative decision-making. It is inherently optimistic, as I believe most Californians are. So when some assert that California can not afford to carry through on its climate commitments without losing jobs, I can’t help but ponder the possibilities of doing both.

On the ballot in November, Proposition 23 would roll-back California’s greenhouse gas law (AB 32), low-carbon fuel standard, and rules requiring utilities to source 33% of their electricity from renewables by 2020.
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