Submitted by Cisco Systems, Inc.
In the six years I have worked on the Cisco Corporate Affairs team, I have seen firsthand how natural disasters and humanitarian crises impact some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
From Hurricane Maria devastating the island of Puerto Rico to armed conflicts forcing people to flee countries like Syria and South Sudan – when crises occur, they most often affect already vulnerable communities that lack the resources to respond and recover from them.
According to the UN, 82.4 million individuals have been forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations. Millions of others are displaced by natural disasters, which are increasing in frequency and severity due to climate change.
The need for corporations to help is greater than ever. That is why I am excited to announce that we are redoubling our efforts to respond to both local and global crises by establishing a new team – Cisco Crisis Response.
Actually, the team is not so much new as reimagined.
Cisco has a strong legacy of leading the private sector in responding to crises around the world – especially when it comes to leveraging technology. Now we’re bringing together two existing teams to optimize our social impact.
Our history of crisis response
In 2003, Cisco established the Tactical Operations team to provide on-the-ground connectivity, collaboration, and security solutions for governments, disaster and humanitarian relief organizations, and populations affected by crisis. Since then, the team has responded to over 60 incidents in 25 countries on 6 continents, providing emergency connectivity, solutions consulting, and more. A network of more than 300 trained Cisco employees has supported the team with technical expertise, field deployments, equipment preparation, logistics assistance, training, and outreach.
Meanwhile, our Critical Human Needs investment portfolio has provided cash and product grants to organizations responding to humanitarian crises – including homelessness, mass displacement, food and water insecurity, and natural disasters – for nearly 20 years. For example, the portfolio played a critical role in Cisco’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, providing more than $47 million in cash grants to nonprofits that were helping those most disproportionately affected by the pandemic: first responders, refugees, people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, and those facing food insecurity. We also work closely with organizations like Mercy Corps and Destination: Home through multi-year, multi-million-dollar partnerships.
Our future as Cisco Crisis Response
As one team, we can draw upon our collective resources and expertise to provide greater value to our partners working in emergency and humanitarian response. These resources run the gamut from cash and product grants, technical expertise, guidance on emergency connectivity and network security solutions, and on-the-ground equipment installations and deployments.
Cisco Crisis Response is comprised of several full-time technical engineers, operations and logistics coordinators, and grant portfolio managers, along with an extended team of 300+ Cisco employees who volunteer their time and expertise.
Here are five ways Cisco Crisis Response has already built capacity and scaled our impact since coming together:
In bringing together our collective capabilities and resources, we are expanding our focus from disaster preparedness and response to include resiliency building and longer-term recovery. And through our partnerships and our combined financial, technical, physical, and human resources, we can help communities worldwide prepare for, respond to, and sustainably rebuild from crises.
It is difficult to see the crises and the disasters that cause suffering around the world. But I am grateful that Cisco is investing in stronger crisis response capabilities, and excited about the possibilities for us to have an even greater impact on people and communities moving forward.
Learn more about Cisco Crisis Response on cisco.com.
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