Digitization has emerged as a key driver for prosperity. However countries, companies, and individuals often struggle to successfully leverage the potential of technology. How can forward-thinking world leaders implement national digitization strategies? How can businesses reap the benefits of technology? How can citizens be actively included in the digital revolution?
Cisco launched our Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) program in 2015 to answer these questions. We see digitization at the national level as an opportunity to improve economies, governments, and people’s lives. CDA enables countries to realize the value of digitization faster. By building an inclusive digital society, countries can grow GDP, create jobs, and develop a sustainable innovation ecosystem.
To date, CDA has over 1000 active or completed projects in 44 countries. For example:
- In India, we partnered with Kerala State IT Mission to bring the benefits of digital technology and data science to farmers in Kerala. We created an Agri-Digital Infrastructure for rice paddies and shrimp farms and set up Village Knowledge Centers (VKCs) in villages across Dharmadam and Taliparamba to provide farmers with real-time information on the status of crops in their village, current crop pricing, and expert farming advice. VKCs allow farmers to grow and manage their crops more intelligently and sustainably in response to market demand and current growing conditions.
- In Canada, we partnered with the city of Toronto to provide Internet access to low-income communities. When COVID-19 arrived in Toronto, the disparity between those who had access to the Internet and those who did not became abundantly clear. Spaces that provided free Internet access, like libraries and schools, closed, and low-income communities were disproportionately isolated due to lack of access to a reliable Internet connection. CDA and Cisco's Toronto Innovation Center deployed a “Digital Canopy” by partnering with the city of Toronto and a variety of partners (BAI Canada, Bell Canada, OnX Canada, Toronto Mesh, Beanfield Metroconnect, Southwinds Engineering, and Century Concrete Products). Digital Canopy now provides free Wi-Fi access to 2000 low-income residents in Toronto. The solution is currently being expanded to 25 additional locations to provide free Wi-Fi access to 13,000 residents.
- In the United Kingdom, we are working with Strathclyde University to lead 5G RuralFirst, a co-innovation project partly funded by the UK government. We established 5G test beds in the remote Orkney Islands and the farmlands of Shropshire and Somerset to demonstrate the game-changing potential of 5G technologies for rural businesses and communities. By bringing connectivity to rural communities, we are enabling smart farming and IoT use cases for industries in rural areas. The consortium has deployed 5G technology in some of the most remote and challenging environments of the United Kingdom to build the business case for rural 5G deployment and demonstrate how world-class connectivity could be delivered across the country.
- In Brazil, we are partnering with BNDES (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social) to support the BNDES Education Connected Initiative, which aims to use technology as a pedagogical tool in public schools. We designed, implemented, and validated the connectivity and security infrastructure needed to enable the transformation of Brazil’s schools and pedagogical practices. In 2021 and 2022 we will connect 105 schools in northeast region of Brazil and support the training of teachers and students to most effectively utilize new digital educational tools and resources.
- In India, we partnered with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and Kirat Communications to connect 20 villages in the Palghar district of Maharashtra. With Internet connectivity, the local girls’ school can access online educational resources. A woman's handicraft cooperative of Warli artists can now sell their products online and access a global market. One of our local NGO partners, Tata Trusts, has been able to provide village residents with access to government services via an app, online educational content, and information ranging from health advice to agricultural market rates.
- In South Africa, we are expanding Cisco EDGE (Experience, Design, Go-to-Market, Earn) Centers. EDGE Centers function as incubators and aim to share business knowledge, speed up entry to market and ultimately create new jobs for the local economy. They provide small and medium sized businesses with state-of-the-art Cisco communication and collaboration technology, as well as training and enablement programs to support the growth of local businesses.
- In the Netherlands, we are working with the Port of Rotterdam and IBM to prepare the port for autonomous shipping by 2040.
- In Ireland, we are supporting the establishment of the Future Mobility Campus Ireland to create a testbed for autonomous vehicles.
- In the United States, we are working with American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to transform their 1970s headquarters into a smarter, greener building powered by solar.
- In the United Kingdom, we are leading the E-Flex consortium, an innovation project co-funded by UK Innovate, to prove the value of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology. V2G allows unused energy in electric car batteries to be taken back into the electricity grid. The E-Flex consortium signed up nearly 200 vehicles from a variety of organizations to trial V2G. One organization, the Royal Borough of Greenwich, offset over 1500 kg of CO2 over a nine-month period thanks to five V2G-capable vehicles. The vehicles were charged during off-peak grid times when more renewable energy sources were available, with energy discharged to the grid during peak times to reduce the demand on carbon-intensive energy sources. The level of carbon offset is the equivalent to the amount of CO2 removed by 68 adult trees in one year.
The CDA program fosters thriving, inclusive economies that deliver the benefits of digitization to all. Today, the program can be found across six continents—encompassing 60 percent of the global population and 75 percent of the world’s GDP.