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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 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 Honored for Supporting Disaster Relief in the Bay Area

Cisco is proud to announce it has received the 2014 Humanitarian Partnership Award from the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. The award recognizes the support Cisco has given to the American Red Cross’ mission, and salutes the significant impact Cisco has made in Silicon Valley.

Cisco’s relationship with the Silicon Valley Chapter, and the American Red Cross in general, is deep, enduring, and reciprocal. We have been strategic disaster response partners for more than a decade, and we share a common focus. While the American Red Cross is frequently first on scene to provide food, shelter, water, and relief services during disasters, Cisco’s rapid response IT solutions – and its employees — are not far behind, as supporting critical human needs is a key component in Cisco’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) pledge.

Over the years, Cisco has supported the American Red Cross by making cash and product donations, lending technical expertise, and encouraging extensive employee volunteerism, not only in Silicon Valley, but throughout the United States and the world.

Cisco "Ready When the Time Comes" volunteers are a critical element in their communities' disaster readiness.

Cisco “Ready When the Time Comes” volunteers are a critical element in their communities’ disaster readiness.

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Cisco Employee Receives Prestigious Governmental Award for Work on Project Samudaya

April 4, 2013 at 12:20 pm PST

In November 2012, Cisco Bangalore-based employee Aravind Sitaraman (President – Inclusive Growth) received the prestigious Rajyotsava award for his leadership of Cisco’s Project Samudaya, which helped rebuild 5 villages in the Indian state of Karnataka after catastrophic flooding in 2009. This honor is the highest conferred to civilians by Karnataka’s state government. The award reflects Sitaraman’s deep personal commitment to the well-being of communities in India, as well as his strong alignment with Cisco’s unique method of sincere yet strategic social investment.

Cisco’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts are defined by a simple equation: you + networks = impact multiplied. When the right person meets the right technology, it’s easy to do the math. Indeed, many of Cisco’s CSR efforts begin with grassroots enthusiasm like Aravind’s, which, when combined with Cisco solutions and best practices, can yield an outcome like Project Samudaya: an employee’s authentic, locally attuned passion for change is exponentially multiplied by the company’s resources and expertise.

Aravind Sitaraman Receives Award

Aravind Sitaraman receives the prestigious Rajyotsava Award from India’s government.

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A “Thank You” to the Nonprofits Helping Superstorm Sandy Victims

November 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm PST

At Cisco, we focus our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) work on specific areas, one of which is critical human needs. Or, more simply, food, water, shelter, and disaster relief.

A lot of the nonprofits we have partnered with over the years in this area, such as food banks and disaster response agencies, have been working round-the-clock dealing with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

Consider this a “shout out” to those organizations that are doing so much for those affected, whether in New York and New Jersey or the Caribbean. We will tell you how Cisco is supporting the relief effort in a future blog post.

The American Red Cross distributes food in New JerseyMariuxi Chicoaiiza and her son grabbed a hot lunch from the Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle in Moonachie, NJ
Photo: Julie Daigle/American Red Cross

 

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