Last week, more than 200 leaders from dozens of technology companies and international humanitarian and conservation organizations came together at the NetHope Global Member Summit on our San Jose, California campus. Experts in humanitarian relief, emergency response, and conservation from around the world participated in nearly 30 brainstorming sessions, and I was fortunate enough to attend a few and speak with some of the summit’s most innovative leaders.
NetHope is a collaboration of 41 leading international nonprofit nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that provide humanitarian development, emergency response, disaster relief, and conservation programs. Cisco helped found NetHope in 2001, bringing together Chief Information Officers (CIOs) to better serve the developing world through smarter use of technology.
This week, we are proud to host the NetHope Global Member Summit at our San Jose, California campus. NetHope is an important organization – especially at a time when news feeds are filled with stories about disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and social conflict.
NetHope is a coalition of more than 40 international humanitarian and conservation organizations that provide programs to underserved people globally – often during natural disasters and other crises. NetHope helps its members use technology to deliver services better and faster, to improve communication while reducing its cost, and to reach more people.
After an earthquake in Haiti in 2010, NetHope restored broadband access, enabling 15 of its members to speed delivery of food, water, shelter, and medical assistance.
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.
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
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.