Co-authored with Dani Schrakamp

The Glass Half-Full:

We as a human race have so much to be proud of and excited for – look at us, we’ve learned to fly, gone to the moon, overcome horrific tragedy and invented a little something called the Internet, which connects us all regardless of where we physically reside. It’s quite a time to be alive, never better I would say. And just think, we’re on the cusp of normalizing driverless cars, artificial intelligence and many more amazing things to come.


But there’s still much to be done, and so much opportunity that technology will enable toward addressing some of the world’s current and future pressing challenges. 4.5 million people will be working on the Internet of Things (IoT) over the next five years, opening up an era of global problem solving and calling forth a new wave of talented people to champion the innovative ways that will begin to make the world a better place.

Innovation Grand Challenge:

This generation of entrepreneurs, startups, leaders and developers are embracing the digital age and becoming the innovators behind the Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.12.36 PMemerging technologies that are saving lives, balancing socioeconomic disparities and solving world hunger. To inspire and engage with them, Cisco launched the Innovation Grand Challenge, focused on finding fresh and exciting ideas that will transform industries, governments and change the world.

During last year’s competition, dozens of teams competed for a share of $250,000 to jumpstart their ventures. One of the 2015 winners, Green City Solutions, is applying a real solution to problems of air pollution, a global threat that causes millions of deaths worldwide.

And together with Cisco, Green City Solutions has formed a partnership for a smart city project in Paris. Taking advantage of the capabilities of Cisco’s secure network, our industry leadership, our willingness to open doors to our trusted ecosystem of partners and openness in sharing resources, Green City Solutions is accelerating their business and planted their first CityTree in Paris just last month. This is also a wonderful example of how Cisco’s Country Digitization Acceleration partnership, recently launched with the French government, is helping the European nation tackle problems through innovative collaborative efforts by government, startups, entrepreneurs and large corporations.

Picture1According to CIO of Green City Solutions, Liang Wu, every day, ninety percent of cities’ inhabitants breathe polluted air, which is the cause of every seventh death worldwide. The major components of air pollution are nitrogen oxides, ozone and especially fine dust (PM), which 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air shorten the life span by half a year. At the same time, the global population is going urban and it’s estimated that in 2050, eighty percent of the world’s population will live in cities.

Green City Solutions has developed a freestanding solution called CityTree. It features a moss culture that naturally absorbs the pollution that occurs in urban environments. Each unit has the air-cleaning effect of up to 275 traditionally planted urban trees, yet requires less than 1 percent of the space, and no groundwork. In smart, connected cities, the CityTree can be an integral part of the IoT infrastructure, hosting different kind of sensors, and providing access to digital content using various digital technologies like access points for Wi-Fi hotspots, public engagement platforms, iBeacon and much more.

We are currently holding the 2016 Grand Innovation Challenge. Will you be a global problem solver?

Next Up in #TransformationThursday Series:

Stay tuned for next week’s post to see how new ideas of partnership and financing can lead to successful smart, digital city engagements. And be sure to check back each week as we discuss digital transformation in cities, detailing storylines and examples with various social, environmental and economic outcomes.

We’d also love for you to be a part of the conversation by using the hashtag #TransformationThursday and by following @CiscoGovt on Twitter.

And for more information and additional examples, visit our smart cities on Cisco.com.


Alex Goryachev

Senior Director, Innovation Strategy & Programs

Corporate Strategic Innovation Group