We need more good news about companies and governments helping people during this COVID-19 event that seems to be spreading out of control in much of the world right now. Some companies are stepping up and standing out to help people worldwide, and one of them is Cisco. Guy Diedrich runs their CDA (Country Digital Acceleration) program, which has been instrumental in countries like Italy regarding their moves to shift to the new COVID-19 normal. Their latest effort in the Cayman Islands is another example of bringing technology to those that most need it during these critical times.
Let’s talk about that this week.
The Resource Problem
Small countries and communities are often the most at risk for global events like pandemics and local weather events. With global warming, those weather events are coming more and more often, leaving some of these relatively small countries and communities without critical infrastructure and isolated both as an entity and their citizens.
Sadly, countries that typically would step in and help during times like this are themselves under massive COVID-19 pandemic pressure and aren’t able to step up and help. This limitation is on top of the political unrest that the pandemic seems to be creating.
To get help, these countries and communities often must think outside of the box to identify resources and individual multinational companies and organizations that still can assist.
At Cisco, one of the primary units with the mission to help countries in need is the CDA unit. And that unit has been working tirelessly both in the US and abroad to establish or restore critical communications between government bodies and between government and citizens. They’ve also helped implement programs connecting prisons and retirement homes to remote relatives, helping to reduce tensions and limit the spread of the virus.
These efforts are often complicated, tying in local companies in the region. They have feet on the ground, with remote knowledgeable resources and Cisco field crisis response teams who fly into the regions to assist. It is a powerful program that has had a material impact on countries and communities worldwide.
CDA in the Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands, like a lot of countries in the Caribbean, hasn’t just been fighting the pandemic, but they’ve had severe storm issues as well. This last has significantly damaged its infrastructure. During what is clearly a life or death situation for many, they severely reduced the ability of those at risk to communicate and get timely help.
The Cayman Islands Utility Regulation and Competition office was charged with coordinating a project to get citizens connected. Both Unified Technologies and Flow C&W (the regional telecommunications carrier) were spun up given their deep understanding of the area and longstanding roots in the Cayman Islands community.
The Honorable Joey Hew took a commanding role as Minister of Commerce for the Cayman Islands. Cisco collaborated with the team to provide a free wireless service to 10 communities on the island. This result is yet another showcase of the CDA approach and team with credit not only going to Guy Diedrich, the VP and Global Innovation Officer that runs the group, but Shari Slate, the Chief Inclusion and Collaboration Officer, and Rob Eyers SVP Business Development Unified Technologies.
While the resulting ten hotspot locations mostly covered Government operated Civic Centers, they provided much-needed connectivity for a people and government that desperately needed this connectivity. They likely increased significantly the Cayman Islands’ ability to recover from the latest weather event successfully.
Countries, companies, and people are often defined by what they do in a crisis. Given the world is in crisis, we can see those that step up and those that just step. Fortunately for those in the Cayman Islands, their government stepped up to the problem of internet connectivity, and Cisco stepped up to help them secure that connectivity.
In the end, Cisco and the CDA team made the world a better place, and we can be proud, as can the Cisco employees, that their company is making a very real positive difference in the world.
As a side note, the Cayman Islands is promoting itself as an ideal place to live, given many of us no longer have to commute to work. Can you imagine calling into a meeting during the winter from the Cayman Islands? Everyone else in the meeting would certainly be green with envy.