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At Cisco, our purpose is to Power an Inclusive Future for All. And in response to the realities of the past year, this must also mean powering an inclusive recovery for all, with the help of our government partners, customers, partners, communities, and employees. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve put our purpose in action – keeping people working, learning, receiving healthcare, and governing during quarantine and as they return to their workplace. With millions of people – doctors, patients, students, teachers, parents, workers, government leaders, and citizens – facing a new reality and relying on Cisco for all parts of their lives, I want to share the progress we’ve made in making this recovery an inclusive one.

We quickly understood that this wasn’t only a public health crisis, but the greatest disruptor of the way that we work and live in a century. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have contributed over $500 million in cash and technologies plus $2.5 billion in financing for COVID response that has led to remarkable achievements.

Partnering with Governments and Communities Around the World to Meet the Moment

For the past six years, Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) Program has developed strategic partnerships with governments across the globe, and the trust that was built along the way enabled us to quickly evaluate, fund, and execute 70 projects on six continents to help governments respond to the pandemic’s challenges.

Innovating and Accelerating Digital Governments.

The ability for governments to work remotely was essential to leading their citizens through this crisis, as was delivering public services in new and innovative ways.

  • We quickly understood that legislatures around the world needed new ways to hold hearings, vote, caucus, and meet with constituents. For example, Webex enabled the United States Congress to hold critical hearings and meetings remotely and to do so in a hybrid environment. To date, the House of Representatives and Senate have held more than 8,500 meetings and hearings on Webex. We also worked with a Cisco partner out of Ireland – Davra – to develop Legislate for Webex, a specialized solution designed for legislative bodies.
  • In Brazil, our partnership with the National Council of Justice allowed us to quickly ensure citizens across the country would still have access tothe judicial system. We built a virtual courtroom, provided collaboration technology, and conducted trainings for lawyers, judges, and other court  Thousands of witness interviews, meetings, evidence sharing, hearings, and judgment sessions have been held on our Webex-powered solution.

Powering Telemedicine’s Big Moment.

Empowering healthcare workers on the frontlines with Cisco technology has been pivotal in the fight against COVID-19.

  • In South Africa, we worked with our partners to develop and deploy mobile medical trolleys for the largest hospital in the southern hemisphere, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. Equipped with our collaboration technology, newer doctors and nurses were able to quickly consult with and learn from veteran physicians to best care for a growing number of patients.
  • In the United Arab Emirates, we’re using our technology to extend telehealth into patients’ homes. Our creation of the teleMEDCARE app for iOS and Android gives patients access to virtual doctors’ appointments via their mobile phones, allowing them to receive the healthcare they need from anywhere and reduce trips to a hospital.

Providing Support for Teachers, Students, and Schools.

Many of us parents know all too well how the pandemic created new challenges for our children’s education. But behind the scenes, school administrators needed to quickly upgrade their networks and find new ways to teach and learn. So we dove in to help K12 and higher education institutions adapt to distance learning.

  • In Japan, K12 schools struggled to expand their networks to support Wi-Fi needs during the pandemic. So we worked with education partners in the GIGA School program to develop a specialized technology package that allows teachers to easily manage, monitor, and expand the network as needed in a digital classroom environment. And it’s all powered by Webex.
  • In Germany, the University of Lübeck went from testing Webex with 100 pilot users to 2,600 students and staff using the solution in just six weeks.

Bridging the Digital Divide

All of this work through CDA serves as a reminder that the lack of reliable connectivity is a critical societal issue. Networking and collaboration are the enablers of education, of healthcare, and of the ability to receive government services. But today, nearly half of the world remains unconnected. In the US and Canada, Cisco has worked with the cities of Dallas and Toronto, the State of Arizona, and several local governments in Michigan to provide Wi-Fi access and cloud security technology to vulnerable communities. Cisco is also working to bridge the digital divide on Tribal lands. There is more work to do to close the widening digital divide and Cisco will continue our partnership across the public and private sectors to be that bridge.

Looking Ahead

Beyond the COVID-19 recovery, I continue to see so many ways that we can Power an Inclusive Future for All in the ways that we work, develop skills, and care for the planet.

Embracing and Driving the Future of Work.

This year thrust us into the workplaces of the future. And Cisco is helping develop tools that help teams work together in a hybrid world. But how can we use these tools to help us better manage our time, mental health, and create a more inclusive work experience?

Starting this summer, Webex will offer insights that increase and promote personal well-being as well as build better quality connections and a more inclusive work experience for all. Webex People Insights will enable individuals and teams to set and achieve goals for their meetings and their day. We’re excited to provide this intelligence to leaders and team members so they can better identify when time is well spent…and when it’s not.

Investing in Digital Skills to Power the Workforce of the Future.

The workforce is changing. It’s clear that people are looking for ways to build their IT skills. We see this in our own Cisco Networking Academy Program, a 20+ year program that has helped prepare more than 12.6 million individuals for the workforce of the future with trainings in networking, cybersecurity, and more. Enrollment in our free online classes – such as Intro to Cybersecurity and Intro to IoT – has more than tripled in the first two quarters of FY21 compared to the same period in FY20. Governments too are investing in digital skills and training for their citizens knowing that we’ve all fast forwarded into a digital future. An inclusive recovery includes providing these skills to all who need them. Together with our education and employment partners we’ve made a commitment to develop the workforce of the future and we are proud that citizens are using our Networking Academies as a place to learn and grow.

Playing Our Part in a Sustainable Future for All.

Digitization isn’t the only accelerator to come out of the pandemic. In Europe, for example, lawmakers are understanding that this moment for reinvention allows every industry the opportunity to have a more sustainable future. As the world’s largest provider of networking, collaboration, and security technologies, Cisco’s technologies not only help drive connectivity, productivity, and security, they also help reduce energy consumption and use of natural resources by buildings, cities, and communities.

As a company, Cisco has set ambitious goals to reduce our emissions by 60% by FY22, improve the power efficiency of our products, and commit to more sustainable packaging. We’re making good progress and will do our part to make sure that we’re helping shape a future that is inclusive, digital and green.

Optimism for an Inclusive Future for All

This past year has certainly been hard on all of us. But it’s also been a year of innovation and of thoughtfulness for the people in our lives and our neighbors around the world. It is this innovation and empathy that will continue to drive our work to ensure our recovery truly does benefit us all.