During natural or manmade disasters, when communications technology infrastructure systems are knocked out or missing altogether, relief agencies still need technology— particularly high-speed Internet connectivity—to better coordinate relief response. Without it, responders are forced to expend resources on satellite systems that are slow, expensive, or require a high level of tech support. These resources could be better used to provide vital goods and services like food, water, shelter, and medical care to victims of the crisis. Even without a looming disaster, lack of efficient ICT solutions in the developing world makes it difficult for agencies, governments, and individuals to improve healthcare, education, agriculture, conservation, and economic opportunities in many communities.
“Cisco is a place where all the NetHope members can come for technology advice. We end up doing a lot of that. Being able to leverage the expertise of the Cisco employees to create solutions to the issues that we face with our work, that is extremely valuable and goes way beyond just sharing the technology itself. That relationship has been one of the biggest wins in my mind.” – Gisli Olafsson, global program director, NetHope
Cisco helped found NetHope in 2001 in collaboration with Save the Children and with the assistance of Cisco Leadership Fellows, two of whom have served as the organization’s executive director. NetHope’s 38 members include the world’s leading humanitarian, conservation, and emergency relief organizations. By collaborating with major technology companies, foundations, and individuals, NetHope members aggregate resources, reduce technology costs, and increase their capacity. This collaborative network enables them to deliver better services more quickly to more people, saving lives and reducing suffering.
Cisco support helped NetHope develop its signature product—NetReliefKits (NRKs), or suitcase-sized cabinets that provide rapidly deployable, field-based voice and data communications—for use in areas where fixed communications infrastructure has been destroyed. NetHope Academy, modeled after the Cisco Networking Academy® program, trains ICT professionals at humanitarian and conservation organizations and unemployed youth in the developing world to fill local demand for ICT experts. A NetHope initiative called Innovation for Development designs practical, replicable, scalable technology solutions for pressing humanitarian problems, aided by donated used equipment and discounted hardware, software, and services.
NetHope’s 37 members operate in more than 180 countries, providing $40 billion in support for humanitarian development, emergency response, and conservation programs. As many as 20 humanitarian organizations—serving 500,000 people at the world’s largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya—are using a more cost-effective LAN network installed by Cisco and NetHope, assuring more money is available to provide relief services. Following the January 2010 Haiti earthquake, Cisco teamed with NetHope to deliver high-speed wireless Internet to 15 responding organizations; a Cisco team was also deployed to Japan following the March 2011 earthquake. NetHope NRKs were also used by partner organizations to assist ravaged communities following the 2004 Southeast Asia tsunami.
Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility
We believe that businesses have a responsibility to operate in ways that respect and ultimately benefit people, communities, and the planet we live on; we call this Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Our core CSR philosophy is that impact multiplies whenever human and technology networks combine to solve a problem.
This is why we approach CSR the same way we approach business—by applying our technology, employee expertise, and partnerships. We are focused on four primary goals: improving the well-being of people and communities around the world, reducing our environmental impact and helping our customers do the same, conducting our business ethically, and creating a workplace where our employees thrive.