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Connections Matter in Mexico’s Northern Border Region

August 20, 2014 at 12:14 pm PST

In Monterrey, Mexico, deep economic and social gaps separate rich from poor, educated from uneducated, legal from illegal. In 2008, the city started experiencing violence related to turf battles between warring drug cartels. Drug use and high murder rates continue to steal the lives of youth, tempting those who lack the skills for traditional jobs into much higher-paying, high-risk careers of narcotics and crime.

To help young people withstand the pressure of crime and violence in cities near the United States-Mexico border, Cisco has partnered with World Learning and the United States Agency for International Development to provide information and communications technology (ICT) and entrepreneurship training at high schools. Cisco Networking Academy courses are offered as part of the program. In the first year, almost 500 students participated.

Students in Monterrey, Mexico celebrate completion of the Cisco Networking Academy IT Essentials course.

Students in Monterrey, Mexico celebrate completion of the Cisco Networking Academy IT Essentials course.

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Electric Vehicle Charging Sparks Cisco Employees to Reduce Carbon Footprint

James Lynch’s Nissan Leaf bolts down a shady street in San Jose, California, hardly making a noise as it zips between lanes at 40 miles per hour. With the quick flick of the transmission and a forceful press of a foot, the powder-blue car jumps ahead on the smooth pavement with the force of a small sports car. This isn’t a Mustang, though.

It’s an electric car, and James Lynch is one of thousands of Cisco employees worldwide committed to reducing their gasoline consumption and carbon footprint by changing the way they drive. Cisco is supporting employees like James by installing more electric vehicle (EV) charging stations on its campuses worldwide.

A row of electric cars charges at Chargepoint stations on Cisco's San Jose campus

A row of electric cars charges at ChargePoint stations on Cisco’s San Jose campus

Cisco joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge in March 2013, contributing to a national goal of achieving a tenfold increase in the number of employers offering workplace charging in the next five years. More than 55 companies have joined the Workplace Charging Challenge. According to the Department of Energy, there are 8514 public charging stations and over 20,000 charging outlets available to electric vehicle drivers in the United States.

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Cisco Takes Holistic Approach to Reducing Energy Use and Costs

Cisco’s EnergyOps team is tasked with reducing energy consumption and increasing energy efficiency at our offices, labs, and data centers worldwide. Cisco’s labs are our largest consumer of energy and although we are putting a lot of effort into improving the efficiency of those environments, we’re finding great success in taking a more holistic approach that includes implementing efficiency opportunities within all of our building support systems such as HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), building controls, and lighting.

For example, in January 2014 we engaged in such a holistic energy efficiency effort at a number of our Shanghai facilities, which included three primary areas of improvement:

  • Computer room air conditioning (CRAC) unit retrofits
  • Software upgrades for cooling equipment
  • Lighting upgrades for offices

In just 3 months, 5 buildings at our Shanghai location underwent energy efficiency upgrades in these areas that will generate approximately US$145,000 in savings per year.

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Children Learn Coding and Collaboration at Cisco

July 24, 2014 at 5:29 pm PST

“If you want to use the music from Frozen in your game, do you know how to download a gif to match?” Not the average question I have heard in a conference room at Cisco headquarters in San Jose, California, especially when asked to 7-year-old girls! The girls were part of a group of 14 children participating in a coding camp held at Cisco and put on by Embark Labs. The goal of the event is to teach 7 to 10 year olds to have fun while learning how to program.

Teacher Brian VanDyck and Embark Labs Founder Jessie Arora watch as the students work on their coding projects

Teacher Brian VanDyck and Embark Labs Founder Jessie Arora watch as the students work on their coding projects

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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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