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India: Transforming Promise into Performance

Seven years ago, many people (including my mother-in-law) thought I had made a career-ending decision to accept a high-risk assignment and relocate to India. My mission:  build from the ground up Cisco’s second headquarters, a Globalization Centre East in Bangalore focused on innovation, talent and partner development that envisioned 10,000 employees in three years, including the top 10% of worldwide talent. My charter included developing a world-class technology campus that also served as a showcase for incubating and advancing Smart City services worldwide, and to become the most relevant ICT company in India.

Was it the right decision?

Wim #1Although half a world away from Cisco’s corporate headquarters in the Silicon Valley, I thought the new job was still full of great promise. India was and still is the world’s largest democracy, had a growing talent pool, a zest for innovation, a co-operative government, aspirational middle class and a potentially huge economy purring along at 8% annual growth.

In four years, we partnered with national and local governments as well as an ecosystem of commercial businesses to architect and develop a fully networked campus.The Smart + Connected Community inBangalore integrated building systems with IT systems and applications onto one IP network, enveloped by artfully designed buildings and collaborative work spaces.

Today, the 1-million-square-foot Globalization Centre East campus employs more than 11,000 people, houses Cisco’s Research and Development, IT and customer support teams with the best talent in industry. The campus also meets my original charter Wim #2as the incubator for validating our industry-leading Smart + Connected Communities, especially Smart Cities, which today has projects on nearly every continent worldwide, encompassing more than 90 engagements.

All that has been extremely rewarding to see, but was it the right decision?

We achieved every critical objective except one: growing ICT technology throughout India itself. In my four years of living in India and after a number of subsequent trips revisiting there, I now realize that the promise and opportunity of India can be unpredictable.  After several years of nearly double digit growth, India’s economy spiraled down, experienced high inflation, a weakening rupee, allegations of government corruption and financial policy decisions that spooked the international investment community.

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#SmartConnectedCity series: New Cities Summit media event reveals the future of #SmartCities is now

What is the future of citiesAs cities and communities prepare for the future and the Internet of Everything, they must confront a tsunami of challenges that can overwhelm how people live, work, play and learn. More than half the world now lives in cities for the first time, and the influx is growing faster than many cities can accommodate.

Today, about 500 million urban dwellers live in poverty, without access to healthcare or education. The world population will swell about 50% to more than 9 billion in the next few decades, placing huge strains on energy and food resources, jobs, transportation and more. The population in many mature cities continues to shrink while it’s booming in developing economies, triggering seismic demographic shifts worldwide.

21st Century is the Century of Urbanization

Indeed, the 21st century is shaping up to be the century of urbanization, and competition will be more between cities – not countries. That’s why it’s increasingly incumbent on all of us to foster more sustainable communities for our children – economically, socially and environmentally.

On June 18th, I had the privilege of hosting  a media roundtable at the New Cities Summit held this year in Dallas, Texas, to share insights with urban officials and experts about innovative solutions they are implementing to address many of these challenges. They have turned to “connecting the unconnected” through the power of the Internet of Everything to deliver more effective urban services that are improving everything from education and public safety to parking and even more direct and democratic exchanges between government and citizens.

At Cisco, we have identified $3 trillion of economic value that can be realized by cities alone over the next decade by leveraging sensors, applications and data analytics linked to the Internet through a common platform.

Here are some highlights of the media roundtable:

Midland County, Texas, Library:

In Midland, Texas, officials struggled with declining visitors, especially young students, at the county library, composed of an old building where technology was an afterthought. By converging new digital and physical architectures at the outset, they completely rebuilt the structure into one that’s the envy of libraries everywhere. This resulted in a 1,000% increase in materials circulated and 100% increase in traffic, stated Jason Bates, Midland County, Texas, Library’s IT director; and John Trischitte, the director of Midland County, Texas, Public Libraries.

They shared about how this award-winning library enhanced patronage experience via Cisco’s fast and reliable network and solutions, such as upgrading their portal site, interactive digital signs and kiosks, online book searches, video stories, computer rooms, access controls and much more. Today, they are gratified to see more young readers spending more time there.

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What the Exponential Power of the #InternetOfEverything Means for Smart Connected Cities

Barcelona, Amsterdam, Nice, London and New York are arguably some of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. However, they have more than glamorous fashions, exquisite cuisine and vibrant nightlife in common. All are connecting things, such as cars and trash cans, to the Internet, making their cities work more efficiently.

As the Internet of Things continues to grow and connect things, and the explosion of big data, cloud and mobile devices change our landscape, it’s important to emphasize that a connected life is more than just smart appliances. As more things, people, and data become connected, the power of the Internet (essentially a network of networks) grows exponentially.

This is what we call the Internet of Everything (IoE) – the network effect of bringing together people, process, data and things—to create better social, environmental and economic outcomes in businesses and communities.

Recently, I wrote about how innovative cities, like Copenhagen, and the surrounding districts of Albertslund and Frederikssund are taking decisive action to reinvent themselves with the latest network infrastructure linked to the Internet.

Here’s a closer look at a few examples of the Internet of Everything in action in cities all over the world:

  • In Albertslund, work already has begun on the Danish Outdoor Light Lab (DOLL), which will become a showcase for smart lighting. Nearly 40 competing outdoor light solutions converged onto one open network will provide enormous potential to cut costs and consumption while improving public safety.Cisco_IoE Wim blog
  • In the Frederikssund district, just 25 miles from downtown Copenhagen, the greenfield City of Vinge has one of the greenest and most innovative master plans in Europe, setting the groundwork to be carbon neutral from the outset. Underpinning this goal are plans for an application-centric infrastructure that connects people, data, processes and things – the perfect example of the Internet of Everything.
  • And in the Copenhagen municipality itself, smart lighting, parking, water management, smart grids and more all to be converged onto one network, and powered by sensors everywhere, will improve sustainability, resiliency and overall livability.
  • Barcelona’s Born District, a bustling neighborhood of restaurants, shops and boutiques uses a customized network for reports on temperature, noise, humidity, particle-concentration and more, providing an overview of the city’s overall “livability.” The information is then relayed to city “situation” rooms, allowing officials to detect levels that are outside of set thresholds and improve on them.
  • In London and other parts of the UK, the Internet of Everything is causing city and government administrators to begin thinking long-term about energy consumption and their manufacturing industry. Facing a looming energy shortfall and poised to take its place as an international manufacturing hub, the UK is taking full advantage of the reach of the Internet of Everything as it works to solve infrastructure and economic challenges.

These examples are just the beginning of how with the Internet of Everything can change our world.

Thirty years ago, there were just 1,000 connections to the Internet throughout the world. Today, with the help of app-centric infrastructure, sensors and mobile devices, there are about 13 billion connections, and this is still just 1 percent of what’s possible. The economic opportunity to connect the unconnected totals $19 trillion, comprising $4.6 trillion for the public sector, two-thirds of which can be realized by cities.

In 2020, we expect 50 billion things to be connected to the Internet, which will still be scratching the surface of what’s possible.

We know that data is doubling every two years, and according to IDC the digital universe will expand to 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes, annually by 2020. That’s even more staggering when you consider that today 90 percent of data is dark – it is only viewed once or not at all.

However, this explosion of data and apps – when properly optimized – presents unprecedented opportunities to better manage resources and improve quality of life. By embracing the Internet of Everything, cities across the globe can are lead the way toward a more sustainable world. Will your city be next?

Be sure to follow @CiscoIoE and join the conversation, #InternetOfEverything.

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Copenhagen Gets Greener with the Internet of Everything

Once a Viking fishing village founded in the 10th century, Copenhagen today stands tall among the world’s most technologically enlightened cities.

Most everyone knows that Denmark’s capital is praised worldwide for its green initiatives, which are obvious from the pure air, clean sidewalks, ever-present bicycles and fresh-water canals, which I’ve enjoyed swimming in over the years.

There’s good reason Copenhagen topped the 2012 Global Green Economy Index and was recently named “The European Green Capital 2014.”

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The IoT Tipping Point in Old and New Smart Cities

It’s only been six weeks since the breakthrough Internet of Things (IoT) World Forum in Barcelona, but the momentum to build web-enabled Smart Cities appears to be crescendoing toward a tipping point.

Just this past week, I participated in two highly energized Smart City forums in “old” cities that attracted executive-level leaders from government, vertical industries and technology providers. At both – one in Hamburg and the other in Amsterdam – I experienced first-hand the growing use of digital devices connected to networks that enhance the experience of citizens and businesses and also improve sustainability and performance.

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