Cisco Connects to the Conservation Cause


April 25, 2019 - 3 Comments

When you work at Cisco, you’re surrounded by a workforce of dedicated global problem solvers. That’s who we are at our core. From addressing our customers’ greatest business challenges to accelerating solutions that benefit our local communities and the planet—we’re dedicated to moving the needle every day.

At the heart of our culture is Corporate Social Responsibility. It’s integrated in our Cisco strategy, innovation practice, and guiding principles. We fundamentally believe that the future is ours to build by harnessing the power of our technology, expertise, and partnerships to make the greatest impact.

Simply put, we make it our mission to empower our people to address the world’s greatest challenges through technology.

The endangered animal future generations may never see

One of the world’s biggest conservation problems is illegal poaching of rhinos. Believed to hold medicinal powers in some cultures, rhino horns are in high-demand on the black market—making these majestic animals a prime target for poachers.

On average, three rhinos are killed every single day. At this alarming rate, rhinos will be extinct by 2025. If rhinos become extinct, Africa will lose a vital part of its wildlife heritage and ecosystem. Entire countries and communities that depend on tourism will be affected, impacting their local economies and driving up unemployment.

Rangers work diligently to protect these species. But, it’s not just life and death for the rhinos. One park ranger was stabbed six times by poachers who thought he possessed rhino horns. It’s a war out there, and a war that the rangers are losing alone—they need allies.

The rhino species is millions of years old, and it’s heartbreaking to think about children growing up in a world where they no longer exist in the wild. I’m proud to say that preserving these endangered animals is a problem Cisco is eager to solve.

A new solution for protecting the world’s most vulnerable animals

In partnership with Dimension Data, Cisco launched Connected Conservation, our joint initiative, in 2015. This was the first solution of its kind to proactively protect rhinos while leaving them to roam freely. While we also look to explore and implement other solutions that track the animal in conjunction with a rich ecosystem of partners, Connected Conservation eliminates human interference.

Using various wireless technologies, including point-to-point, multipoint, and LoRaWAN, we are creating a digital perimeter sensor fabric. Connected Conservation leverages the power of surveillance, data, and analytics that proactively tracks people and automobiles instead of animals.

Prior to this technology, the people protecting the animals had few resources, and those resources didn’t scale. They covered thousands of acres of land with a few people, one truck, and a helicopter. Having the precise location of someone crossing is critical to efficiently tracking down poachers. In many cases, this technology is the only way to cover such a massive area.

The success we’ve seen is a testament to Cisco’s dedication and commitment to conservation. Connected Conservation resulted in a 96% reduction in poaching in our pilot game reserve. We’re now expanding the solution aggressively into new geographies and reaching more animals that need our protection.

Save This Rhino

In summer 2018, I became co-executive sponsor with Dave Ward of Cisco’s Conservation Initiatives. In October 2018, I had the opportunity to join Dimension Data on the ground in South Africa to film a two-part documentary series for National Geographic.

The series is centered on two orphaned baby rhinos who lost their mother to poachers outside of our Connected Conservation solution. The two-part series, hosted by cricket legend Kevin Pietersen, outback wrangler Matt Wright, and special guest Graeme Smith, will air in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and South Africa leading up to the World Cup of Cricket in 2019.

The documentary is set to air via National Geographic in Australia and New Zealand on April 23 and in the UK on June 20. Learn more about the documentary here.

An eye on the future

The technology architecture we are developing builds upon this wireless network infrastructure in the parks. We’re leveraging this digital canvas to continue to co-innovate solutions in partnership with park rangers and Dimension Data.

An example of this piloted innovation is “Deep Fusion,” an application of Deep Learning and Machine Learning for advanced video analytics. This technology identifies, tracks, and counts humans detected in the camera feeds and alerts rangers of potential threats. What’s great about this is that we’re teaching local conservationists to train the AI so that they can—together—cover a larger area than possible without this innovation.

Connected Conservation is just one example of our global problem solvers at work—using their passion and Cisco’s cutting-edge technology to empower those outside our Cisco community to make a difference. I’m honored to be a part of an organization dedicated to investing in innovative, breakthrough solutions that address social and environmental challenges, with a focus on scalability and sustainability.

Whether your passion is conservation, sustainability, fighting homelessness, or any other global problem, we want to empower you to innovate and drive change.

Stay tuned for more updates around our innovation and conservation-focused technology and architectures. Follow @CiscoCSR, #ConnectedConservation, and #SaveThisRhino on your social channels to stay in the know.

 



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3 Comments

  1. I just watched the Cisco Cut version of Save this Rhino. I am so overwhelmed with emotion as to how these beautiful animals are being targeted and killed for greed. And yet, I am amazed at what Cisco is doing to help prevent anymore of these tragedies. I honestly wish I could be part of this great effort to conserve and sustain the life of so many wild animals. I am so thankful to be part of such a great company that takes pride in doing so much to help fight and protect these beautiful animals. Thank you Cisco and everyone involved in this GREAT effort.

  2. It does my heart good to see Cisco committed to making such an incredible and very necessary impact to the sentient beings on this great planet.

  3. What an incredible initiative to be a part of. Truly history in the making. Cisco's "digital eyes" are helping to make a BIG difference for the eco system in the beautiful continent of Africa. Thank you Ruba, for your compassion and drive to be an important part and voice for Cisco.