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Connecting Schools and Students Via Smart Policy

Around the world, over 57 million children of primary school age do not have access to quality education and over 250 million children cannot read or write by the time they reach grade four. In addition, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) of the United Nations estimates that over 4 billion people have yet to connect to the Internet and the positive economic and social benefits that it enables. With dedicated effort, national policy programs can tackle these twin social challenges simultaneously.

Highlighting a path forward, today Cisco is launching a new report, School Connectivity for the 21st Century, which explores the various national initiatives of five countries that have achieved near universal school Internet connectivity. The report assesses the different government policies and programs that have been successful in extending Internet connectivity to primary and secondary schools in Ireland, New Zealand, Portugal, Uruguay, and the United States. Collectively, the case studies demonstrate that broadband Internet connectivity, as a complement to educational programs, improves outcomes and equips students with the skills necessary to live, work, and thrive in our increasingly digital world.

Most countries around the world have some sort of school connectivity program. Unfortunately, though, connection speeds are often slow and connectivity rarely extends past the front office and into classrooms. While some countries may be connecting schools, they may not be connecting teachers and students to the global learning community.

Effective implementation of public policy not only connects more students to the Internet, but also facilitates real improvements to educational outcomes. The report finds that:

  • Broadband technology is an essential component in the iterative process of enhancing student achievement;
  • Dedicated national school connectivity programs can successfully extend Internet access to the majority of a country’s schools within only four or five years;
  • A range of funding mechanisms can be utilized to support school connectivity, from universal service funds to public-private partnership models; and
  • The amount of connectivity within a school (i.e., the local area networks, LAN) is just as important as the amount of connectivity provided to the school.

Given these findings, we recommend that policy leaders focus on broadband Internet and ICT adoption within schools to accelerate the positive impact of technology on education. The report highlights ‘good practices’ in comprehensive national school connectivity programs. These include: a high level vision; a detailed plan with targets; secure and recurring funding; a comprehensive focus on technology requirements; an emphasis on the development and integration of relevant educational content tailored to the learning environment; concurrent training for educators; and regular monitoring and evaluation of the program.


Several technological aspects of school connectivity programs work in concert to ensure that a
robust system is available for students and educators, namely: bandwidth to the school, within-school connectivity, district-wide access, and complementary hardware and software. The experience of the programs reviewed here demonstrates that, over time, per-student bandwidth needs are regularly updated and
that local area networks (LANs), which provide connectivity within schools, are essential not only to extend connectivity throughout the campus, but also to achieve real outcomes by supporting collaboration and access to resources for every student and educator.

As Horace Mann, a pioneer in education reform in the 19th century, once said, “education, beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of the conditions of men – the balance wheel of the social machinery.” Today, nearly two centuries later, let us apply the lessons of history to lingering global challenges by extending educational opportunities – as well as Internet access – to all.

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Statement from Michael Timmeny Congratulating Paul D. Ryan On Becoming Speaker of the House

On behalf of Cisco, let me congratulate Paul D. Ryan on becoming Speaker of the House. Over his tenure on Capitol Hill, Congressman Ryan has a proven track record of taking on important policy issues, and looking for principled, pragmatic, and lasting solutions.

He assumes this new role at a moment when our nation faces big challenges – including the need to reform our system of international taxation, as well as Congressional consideration of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, patent litigation reform and the high skilled immigration reform.

We believe that Speaker Ryan will bring the same energy and principled pragmatism to these challenges. Cisco looks forward to working with Speaker Ryan and other leaders in Congress to move our nation forward.

Let’s celebrate failure in Europe!

That was one of the key themes discussed during today’s “Internet of Everything – What’s in it for Europe event” in Brussels, with MEP Kaja Kallas asking the audience to consider a change in innovation culture to capture the predicted 4.3 trillion that the IoE could generate in value in Europe. Kallas coined the EU attitude to a fear of failure and failing fast compared to the US with “Silicon Valley innovates, DC litigates and Brussels investigates”.

4.3 trillion is a big number, but we think its on the conservative side based on our engagement with public and private sectors around the world. Digital disruption fuelled by the Internet of Everything is redefining industries, cities, countries at an unprecedented rate and promises productivity and economic gains with 1.4% increase in annual GDP and with 1 million new jobs created over ten years.

Michael Hager, Head of Cabinet for Commissioner Oettinger, echoed Kallas’ sentiment on the courageousness required to capture the IoE opportunities, leveraging the Alliance for IoT Innovation (AIOTI) and the Digital Single Market (DSM) to look beyond national borders to a European and international approach. Engaging cross-sectoral collaboration and getting privacy, security and connectivity right will be key enablers.

I was struck by how much in common an enterprise like Bosch, start up AirCloak and the City of Copenhagen had – all touched on the need for vision to breakdown siloed use cases, using concrete demonstrations to illustrate value, to tackle privacy and security issues head-on and the need for education initiatives to accelerate digitisation.

So yes we can celebrate failure in Europe but we can’t afford for the policy environment to be the reason we fail. Fostering the right policy environment means getting it right on issues as diverse as an adaptable data protection framework, a partnership-based security model and the development of an IoE-savvy workforce. The Digital Single Market will bring many elements that will help take us forward, but we need more Member States to complement these efforts by putting digitisation front and centre of their accelerated national digital agendas and municipalities to embrace the opportunities.

Please click here for more information on the opportunity that digitisation fuelled by the Internet of Everything enables.

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Coming Soon: Amazing Grace – The True Story of a Computer Science Pioneer

If I told you about a woman who worked on the Mark I and ENIAC Computers in World War II, who was instrumental in solving a key problem of the Manhattan project, and who went on to develop one of the first computer science languages – COBOL – you’d say they should make a movie about her, something similar to the Imitation Game.

Well that mathematician exists, and her name is Grace Hopper. Sometimes called “Amazing Grace,” she is a true pioneer of Computer Science, and she continues to inspire engineers to this day. No, they haven’t yet made a feature film (they should), but you should check out this short documentary put together by the fine folks at 538 and ESPN films.

At a moment in time, when we’re looking to inspire girls and young women to enter the fields that make up STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – we should look to Grace Hopper as a model of how to thrive.

That’s just what the Anita Borg Institute has done with its annual Grace Hopper conference. Twelve thousand women engineers from around the country and the world will come together in Houston this week to build on Grace Hopper’s legacy, to discuss the most critical computer science dilemmas of the moment, and to answer the question of how to increase the number of women engineers down the road.

Cisco is proud to be a diamond sponsor of the conference, and just as proud that 300 of our best and brightest minds will be attending the conference.

Conferences like these don’t register much attention inside the Beltway, but they should. Legislators and appointed officials from both sides of the aisle have been consistently drawing attention to the under-representation of women in science and engineering careers, and the need for our country to diversify and expand the student pipeline that companies like ours depend upon.

We agree, and that’s why we’re devoting so many resources to this important, and growing, conference.

In careers where men still outnumber women, it’s vitally important for women to connect with other women in order to be reminded that others are on a similar career journey, and managing the same professional and personal challenges that go along with that career choice. And to be inspired, by “Amazing Grace” and the amazing women they will meet this week.

So as the conference in Houston opens, I urge you to think about Grace Hopper’s life and legacy. She defied the odds, made an enormous contribution to our nation and to scientific discovery, and did it at a time when women were locked out of so many opportunities.

Seventy years after Grace Hopper first started working on computers, there are so many opportunities available to women, and we need to unlock even more. For me and many of my colleagues, Grace Hopper will continue to serve as a guiding light and inspiration as we take on this critically important challenge.

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The Power of Diversity

In the dynamic and fast-changing technology sector, it takes a smart, motivated, diverse workforce to stay ahead of the competition. At Cisco, we are committed to a culture that values such diversity, which makes us better, stronger, and more agile.

The Executive Leadership Council is an organization that is helping improve the pipeline of diverse executive-level talent. Through its Foundation, the ELC provides scholarships and training programs designed to help African-American employees discover pathways to promotion, up to and including the senior-most executives and board members of America’s largest companies.

Tonight, at the ELC’s annual recognition gala at National Harbor, the organization will celebrate and recognize individuals and companies that are supporting the ELC in its activities, and the individuals it is advancing through its programming.

Cisco is proud to be the Lead Sponsor of “The Power of One” celebration. Our CEO, Chuck Robbins, will be on stage as part of the event, and Cisco will be well-represented by executives and leaders from within our company.

“At Cisco, we strive to connect everything, innovate everywhere, and benefit everyone—but we can’t do that without the power of our people,” says Chuck Robbins. “Each one of our employees brings unique talents, backgrounds, and experiences that contribute to our success as a company. It is only by creating a culture that values all diverse perspectives that Cisco will be able to capture opportunities in the future.”

Congratulations to the Executive Leadership Council on the occasion of their annual gala, and for their hard work in opening up a diverse talent pipeline for future executives.