COVID-19 has reshaped our lives. Not only has it forced citizens around the world to shelter in place and practice social distancing, but it has also forced governments—the very entities that must lead us through the pandemic—to work differently as well. Today, this edition of our #PublicSectorNow series will take an in-depth look into this.

Through our work with public sector customers, we can say one thing decisively: governments around the world are in the midst of a digital revolution. A journey to remote work that could have taken a decade was implemented in weeks, and that deserves real praise.

Facilitating remote work kept government running

Government agencies and legislatures may not have been early adopters of remote work, but the worldwide movement to work from home pushed them into one of the more significant technological changes in their histories. We watched and helped facilitate almost instantaneous digital transformation for executive, judicial, and legislative branches, allowing economies, courts, government agencies, schools, and health systems to continue functioning. That meant quickly connecting massive workforces with VPNs, device management, and collaboration tools. The network that had been an afterthought to many government leaders suddenly became the lifeline keeping their citizen services working.

Not sacrificing security for speed

We heard a very early refrain from countless customers: they needed a trusted partner to help them rapidly scale remote work and digital services for their citizens. That trust was important for one reason: security. They would not sacrifice security for speed and that meant time-tested solutions with security built in from day one. Government agencies understand—better than any other sector—the importance of security as they manage the sensitive operations that keep their nations safe and people secure.

Maintaining operations was paramount

Over these past difficult months, we have watched governments meet their mission in the most difficult of moments. That dedication to maintaining operations helped them work through the challenges unique to government, healthcare, and education. Here’s what some of those journeys looked like:

In government: Perhaps there’s no more visible example of government using collaboration technology than the U.S. Congress. Like many workplaces around the world that turned to remote work overnight, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives also quickly adapted to continue important work, such as vital oversight and constituent responsibilities.

Thanks to the dozens of virtual committee hearings facilitated by Cisco Webex, the American people have been able to watch remote and “hybrid” hearings that have provided vital insight on the evolving pandemic and economic recovery and featured some of America’s most trusted leaders, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Presidents and prime ministers are also continuing the vital work of government in a virtual environment.  From France to Italy, Jordan to South Africa, Canada to Colombia, and beyond, governments are holding cabinet meetings and leading their countries’ response to COVID-19 and the accompanying economic challenges. And state, provincial, and local leaders are following suit. In fact, the Mayor of Mexico City leverages Webex for her daily COVID-19 health and public safety war rooms.

In healthcare: Technology is playing a central role in improving access to vital services and accelerating the implementation of telehealth solutions across the world. In Costa Rica, for example, Cisco enabled remote consultation solutions in two major hospitals treating COVID-19 cases. We brought video conferencing and networking solutions to medical facilities and doctors in France and Italy—just like we did in China and South Korea. And Cisco’s networking and wireless solutions were used to stand up field hospitals set up across the world with unprecedented speed and efficiency. All of this work with our healthcare customers has opened the door to telehealth solutions that will forever change how our healthcare professionals and patients experience care.

In education: We’ve seen heroic work in education across the world as many teachers, parents, students, and administrators instantly adapted to learning from home. A prime example is Luiss University in Rome, which rolled out distance learning to 7,000 students across 500 classes in less than 48 hours. More than an exercise in business continuity, Andrea Principe, the general rector at Luiss, noted that his goal at the end of this experience is to “give students hope for the future.”

The digital revolution is here to stay

The future of the workplace – for the public and private sector – will forever be altered. Digital expectations of citizens, students, and patients will forever be changed. More work remains to fully digitize citizen services, expand telehealth, and make distance learning easier for schools and students. We are in the midst of a digital revolution in government, but there is much more we can do.

Cisco has been proud to be a trusted partner of public sector customers around the world. We applaud the tremendous work being done by our government customers and look forward to continuing to help them continue to innovate.

Let us know what you think by joining the conversation below, and stay tuned for our next edition of our #PublicSectorNow blog series.


Cassie Roach

Vice President Sales and Sustainability

Acceleration and Action Office