If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the old adage is true: necessity truly is the mother of invention. It’s also shown us that when we work together, not only can we adapt, but we can overcome challenges and even achieve things we previously hadn’t thought were possible.
Our partners have been the very embodiment of those ideas over the course of this year, helping in ways large and small all around the world. Cisco, too, has leaned into the challenges that 2020 has thrown our way, and together we’ve worked to create the solutions our communities need most.
One such initiative is a joint effort between Cisco and our partners ConvergeOne and Presidio. Funded through Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) Program, which has initiatives in 34 countries, this particular program set its sights on providing a critical technology infrastructure to help as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic—the ability for students in rural and underserved areas to continue learning as their classes shifted from in-person to remote.
It all started with one library – the Coolidge Public Library in Coolidge, Arizona, where they averaged 1,000 people a month using their public Wi-Fi when their doors were open. As COVID-19 began to make impact and the library had to shut its doors, Coolidge residents still needed a place to access Wi-Fi for distance learning, applying for unemployment as layoffs and furloughs began, job searches, and filing their taxes. As a result, residents would huddle up against the side of the library building in attempt to access what little Wi-Fi signal they could. The library district tried to relocate the Wi-Fi access points to the outside of the building to help, but as a result, library staff inside the building lost some of their signal.
Cisco heard about the Coolidge Public Library’s challenges and contacted the State of Arizona along with our partner ConvergeOne, and a plan of action was put into place to install new external access points. One project quickly grew into more, and we’re now working with ConvergeOne to install external Wi-Fi access points at five different libraries in high-need communities throughout the state. Those libraries are:
- Huachuca City Public Library in Cochise County
- Coolidge Public Library in Pinal County
- Duncan Public Library in Greenlee County
- Tolleson Public Library in Maricopa County
- Mission Public Library in Pima County
The program hasn’t stopped there, though. We recently announced that we’re also teaming up with Cisco partner Presidio and the City of Dallas’ Office of Resilience and Department of Information & Technology Services in Dallas, Texas, to do the same thing at four Dallas Public Library locations in areas with limited internet connectivity. The free and secure Wi-Fi will be available in library parking lots from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day while the libraries remain closed to the public.
In addition to the outdoor Wi-Fi hotspot donations, Cisco is also donating video endpoint units for inside the libraries once they’re able to reopen. The video units provide access points to virtual services without logging onto a computer and will also provide a direct connection to Dallas City Council meetings for public comment, as well as other opportunities for community engagement.
The Wi-Fi hotspots and video units will be installed at the following Dallas Public Library locations:
Cisco is donating all the Wi-Fi hotspots and ConvergeOne and Presidio are installing them—at no cost—in partnership with the State of Arizona and City of Dallas.
The possibilities become even more tangible when Cisco and our partners work together for the betterment of our communities, our teams, and our customers. There’s no problem that can’t be solved for when we’re solving them in partnership.