Humanitarian crises persist around the world. Natural disasters and human conflict displace millions each year. These devastating incidents deprive innocent people access to our most basic human needs: adequate shelter, food, and clean water.
Part of our Corporate Social Responsibility commitment is to empower nonprofits and social change agents worldwide to address these global challenges and positively impact the lives of 1 billion people by 2025.
On World Humanitarian Day—celebrated every year on August 19—we join other organizations to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service and rally support for people affected by crises around the globe.
Here are three ways Cisco celebrates World Humanitarian Day and accelerates global problem solving for people, society, and the planet:
Emergency communications through our Tactical Operations (TacOps) team
Started in 2005, Cisco’s Tactical Operations team (TacOps) responds to disasters like floods, tornados, and earthquakes around the world. A highly-skilled, dedicated team of eight Cisco engineers and 300 global volunteers can deploy in a matter of days to remote locations, setting up emergency connectivity networks to support other first responders and the affected population.
The team is pro-bono, meaning all services provided are entirely for free, and have been since our first deployment to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Over the years, the TacOps team has responded to more than 40 incidents, including most recently the refugee crisis in Europe.
TacOps first began deployments to Europe in November 2015 and has since sent 10 teams to support the refugee response. Using Cisco’s Meraki technology, team members installed secure Wi-Fi networks at refugee camps and transit areas, providing critical connectivity to aid both workers and affected individuals. More than 600,000 people have used these networks, making it one of the largest humanitarian networks ever established.
Today, TacOps works with more than 35 government and emergency response organizations globally, collaborating in order to most effectively respond to emergencies. Every day, the team leverages Cisco’s core competency in networking technology to help society, applying their expertise to deployments that support life-critical responses.
Supporting nonprofits that provide critical human needs
Solving some of the world’s most pressing issues isn’t a one-company or one-organization job; in the spirit of World Humanitarian Day, it will require the efforts of many global problem solvers.
That’s why we invest in nonprofits and organizations that are actively accelerating global problem solving. Through cash and product grants, business expertise, and human capital, we’re providing the resources to those nonprofits, NGOs, and enterprises who work in the areas of education, economic empowerment, and critical human needs.
We do so by providing early-stage funding to help nonprofits get their ideas off the ground and prove they can work. One of those organizations is the World Food Programme (WFP), which is the food assistance branch of the United Nations (UN) and the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security.
In 2014, we provided an early-stage cash investment to support mVAM, a project using mobile technology to track food security trends in real-time and provide high-frequency data to enable more effective humanitarian decision-making. The UN uses voice calls and SMS messaging to exchange information, which empowers at-risk communities with up-to-date information on food prices, climatic conditions, and assistance programs.
Today, the tool is available in 23 active countries and generates over 20,000 surveys per month. It has been used in five major emergency responses and helped the WFP provide direct food assistance to 76.7 million people in 81 countries in 2015.
Enabling our employees to contribute through volunteering and donating
We’re not only empowering nonprofits and organizations to make an impact; employees at Cisco can volunteer their time or donate to these humanitarian causes through programs like Time2Give.
As part of Time2Give, Cisco employees have five days of paid time off (PTO) each calendar year to volunteer and make a difference in their community or the world. Agnieszka Jank, for example, boarded a plane for Bucharest, Romania in May 2017 and spent five days building homes with Habitat for Humanity, one of our community partners.
She was joined by 13 of her Cisco colleagues, who spent five days in the remote village of Comanesti mixing cement and laying the foundation for a brand-new home; all made possible through the Time2Give program for employees like Agnieszka.
Cisco also offers matched donations to more than 3600 approved non-profit organizations and U.S. schools, up to $10,000 annually per employee. The Cisco Foundation matches donations dollar for dollar, and volunteer hours at $10 per hour. For those who donate to any disaster relief campaign, Cisco will provide an additional $10,000 to the humanitarian efforts.
In FY17, employees donated $288,559.68 to disaster relief causes, nearly all of which was matched by the Cisco Foundation. Employees also volunteered nearly 4000 hours of their time to such causes, generating nearly $30,000 in matched funds from the Cisco Foundation.
Thanks to all the organizations and individuals who provide humanitarian assistance. We stand proudly with you on World Humanitarian Day.
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