Announcing the 2019 Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge Winners

Source: Cisco

Today, in our third year of the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge, we are proud to be recognizing a new group of young entrepreneurs who are creating cutting-edge, technology-based solutions capable of solving some of the world’s toughest challenges.

This year, 335 teams from around the world competed for a total of US$300K in prizes. Teams put forth solutions addressing challenges across the environment, healthcare, critical human needs, and more. Every team showed a deep understanding of the magnitude of the problems facing our global community, and developed innovative solutions to address them.

It has been exciting for us to see the progress CareNX, the 2018 Grand Prize winner, has made advancing their solution—a wearable, low-cost, non-stress test fetal monitoring device called Feton. Since they won the Challenge last year, they have not only reached 15 times more mothers since their inception in 2016 (for a total of 20,000), but were selected to be one of the startups for the inaugural class of Google’s new Launchpad Accelerator India.

With each year, I’m continually impressed by the ideas and solutions developed by these young entrepreneurs and inspired by their drive to make a difference. It’s with much excitement that I introduce you to the winners of this year’s competition:

Grand Prize (US$100,000)

Oorja (Imperial College London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) deploys and operates pay-as-you-go community solar pumping systems to provide affordable irrigation services to smallholder farmers, allowing them access to affordable water services year-round, reduce irrigation costs, grow high-value crops, and double their incomes. Learn more in the Oorja pitch video and on the team’s website.

First Runner-Up (US$75,000)

Solar Freeze (Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya) is a portable, solar powered cold storage solution, mentorship and training program, and mobile app that helps smallholder farmers increase their post-harvest sales by preventing food loss. Learn more in the Solar Freeze pitch video and on the team’s website

Second Runners-Up (US$25,000 each)

Calla Imaging’s (Duke University, United States of America) solution is a patient-centric cervical cancer screening technology that health providers or women themselves can use. Designed to democratize cervical cancer screening, the technology uses automated algorithms for accurate diagnosis without an expert and the mHealth app for patient communication follow-up and data storage. Learn more in the Calla Imaging pitch video and on the team’s website.

Illuminum Greenhouses (Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya) provides smallholder farmers with affordable greenhouses and drip kits equipped with solar powered and IoT sensors that enable greater protection of crops from pests and diseases and increased water efficiency through automation. Learn more in the Illuminum Greenhouses pitch video and on the team’s website.

TrashCon (R.V. College of Engineering, India) has developed a one-stop solution to sort and process any type of mixed municipal solid waste automatically into biodegradable waste and non-biodegradable waste with up to 99% efficiency. Learn more in the TrashCon pitch video and on the team’s website.

Third Runners-Up (US$10,000 each)

Blakbear (Imperial College London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is a soil-sensing platform that helps feed a growing world sustainably by using cutting-edge electrochemical sensing technology and machine learning to increase the yield farmers can get from their land, without using any more fertilizer than necessary. Learn more in the Blakbear pitch video and on the team’s website.

Neurobots (Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Brazil) offers stroke patients an innovative rehabilitation therapy with a brain computer interface capable of giving them 30% of their hand movement back in two weeks. Learn more in the Neurobots pitch video and on the team’s website.

Reeddi (University of Toronto, Canada), an innovative energy generation and distribution system, provides affordable, reliable, and clean energy via mobile capsules to individuals and businesses operating in energy poor regions of the world. Learn more in the Reeddi pitch video and on the team’s website.

TREP LABS (Federal University of Technology Akure, Nigeria) has created REALDRIP, a low-cost infusion monitor device for simpler and safer blood transfusion and drip treatment. REALDRIP continuously monitors flow rate and automates the process during drip treatment to prevent health complications. Learn more in the TREP LABS pitch video and on the team’s website.

People’s Choice Award (US$10,000)

Banoo (Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia) integrated a microbubble, IoT, and solar panel to provide smart aquaculture technology to help people boost their food resilience in areas where land and water availability is scarce. Learn more in the Banoo pitch video.



Congratulations to all of our 2019 Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge winners! I look forward to following their journeys and the impact they will make as their visions become reality! I encourage you to check out their solutions on the Global Problem Solver Challenge site.

The post Announcing the 2019 Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge Winners appeared first on Cisco Blog.

Announcing the 2019 Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge Winners

Our Commitment to Address Homelessness in Rome

Source: Cisco

One of the most important things we all need – and deserve – is a place to call home. A place we can settle into, spend time with our families, relax, rest, rejuvenate. But simply having a place to call home is not only out of reach for so many here in Silicon Valley, where Cisco has its headquarters, but for so many around the world.

In Europe, homelessness is on the rise. Countries across the continent have seen large increases in the number of people who are homeless. In Italy, the issue takes on big proportions, as well – in 2014 (the last year for which data is available), over 50,000 people were homeless. Four out of ten homeless people in Italy have been living on the streets for more than four years, and 30% of them were young.

Addressing homelessness – and helping those in need – is an imperative for all of us, especially those of us who have the ability to make a difference. At Cisco, we take that imperative close to heart – taking on big challenges and doing what we can to make an impact are core to we are. In March 2018, we announced our commitment to Destination: Home, a San Jose-based public-private partnership which has demonstrated that providing permanent housing to chronically homeless people gives them the stability they need to change the trajectory of their lives.

We believe strongly in that Housing First approach, which is considered a best practice in solving for homelessness. Housing First prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness, coupled with the supportive services needed to help individuals get back on their feet and improve their quality of life.

To further our efforts in making an impact, I am proud that this week we are announcing a commitment of $1 million over four years to support a Housing First pilot in Rome with Comunità di Sant’Egidio, an organization that for 50 years has addressed poverty in Italy and in other countries around the world. Sant’Egidio has a long history of focusing on the homeless and poor, and with their dedication to making a difference, they are an ideal partner for us. We will also work closely with fio.PSD, which manages the Housing First Italia network.

Sant’Egidio will be responsible for providing the housing and supportive services to the homeless individuals, and fio.PSD will provide the appropriate guidelines, training, and monitoring and evaluation to share best practices, and track progress to ensure a successful pilot.

Housing First is gaining traction in Europe and Italy, but the approach has not been tested in Rome. We see our funds as a catalytic investment that will enable two well-established organizations with deep expertise in homelessness to test a new approach and serve as a model for others, ultimately using learnings to replicate and scale the approach throughout Rome.

We are also committed to helping these two partners with a technology investment – our team in Italy will work closely with these two organizations to supply them with the technology they need to speed and scale their operations.

We will also be integrating our Networking Academy training program into Sant’Egidio’s offering of training for the underserved population they serve, and we are committed to helping Sant’Egidio with job training and placement of graduates to jobs in the IT field in Italy. Our Networking Academies play a key role in providing those who seek an education and access the tools and skills they need to find employment, and we are excited to support those who need to get back on their feet get the housing and education support they need.

Lastly, none of these efforts would be possible without the passion of those who want to help, and Cisco has some of the most passionate employees. We have set a company-wide goal that by 2020, we will have 80% of our employees around the world giving time and resources to make a difference, and Italy is committed to being the first country to meet this target. The Cisco Italy team is committing to 5,000 volunteer hours by end of this year. Employees will volunteer their time to efforts across Italy – both skills-based volunteering, with engineers lending a hand to help with tech installations, and through work at shelters.

I am excited to see how our commitment to building bridges between hope and possibility extends through Rome. My hope is that with this commitment, we will see more people gain a home, and the ability to truly better their lives.

Our Commitment to Address Homelessness in Rome

Together Wi-Fi 6 and 5G Will Bring a Huge Wave of Innovation

Source: Cisco

The rollout of better connectivity with 5G and Wi-Fi 6 is a once-in-a-generation gamechanger and I predict an explosion of innovation as a result. We’ve seen it before; when connectivity improves there is an accompanying wave of new products, services and experiences in all of the adjacent industries; and in networking, that’s a lot! The difference between the upcoming wave of innovation and the one we experienced with 4G and LTE is ‘who will be leading the charge’.

4G revolutionized the consumer experience, providing the wireless foundation for the invention of the smartphone putting the internet into our pockets. The introduction of the smartphone then prompted the development of millions of apps that we access multiple times a day to share photos, find a restaurant, pay bills and accomplish virtually any task or access any service from the palm of our hand. Now, we live with our smartphones always within arm’s reach and demand faster and more reliable connectivity as we use the multitude of services on our device. It has been the individual consumer that has forced businesses – and even entire industries – to adapt.

5G and Wi-Fi 6 represent the next major leap in connectivity.

Hate when you’re at a concert or sporting event and can’t immediately post a video to your story or get a message to a friend, or when you move to a far corner of the office and lose internet access? That’s because today’s wireless access points and 4G cells can’t handle the number of devices trying to connect simultaneously. Wi-Fi 6 delivers up to 400% greater capacity and is far more effective in crowded settings. Latency is also reduced allowing faster posting, downloads and loading of apps or webpages. This improved connection will also be less draining on connected device’s batteries making them up to four times more power efficient.

 The 4G era brought the digital and physical worlds together through a consumer device – the smartphone. This caused massive disruption, as more than one industry found itself completely transformed because consumers could connect and share information in new ways. Many businesses resisted this change until they were forced to adapt, not because of a business opportunity but purely to survive.

The Wi-Fi 6 evolution will be different. As Wi-Fi 6 will reach maturity much quicker than 5G, it will be the enterprise having the opportunity to drive innovation. And they are hungry to do so, as many businesses have figured out how a digital experience can a be a differentiator. They also have more to work with. Lights, fridges, footballs and grapevines are all becoming connected, meaning we can view the world through an entirely new, digital lens. Whether to make operations safe and more efficient, or to offer consumers a more personalized experience, we’ll see companies embrace this transition – not resist it.

The exciting part of all of this is we still don’t know exactly what use cases and applications are going to emerge. That said, I do believe that Wi-Fi 6 will drive innovation in two main areas:

  • immersive experiences
  • IoT at scale

Imagine if students could gain entirely new understanding of past events by reliving them through virtual reality. I’m sure experiencing a Martin Luther King or Abraham Lincoln speech as if you’re there makes for a more lasting impression on a student. Or a surgeon being able to take detailed scans of a patient and practicing a procedure in virtual reality before ever making a cut. A warehouse can be outfitted with millions of sensors to allow autonomous electric robots and vehicles to fulfill orders and ship products almost instantaneously. All of this becomes possible with Wi-Fi 6’s increased bandwidth and lower latency.

Wired for Wireless

Wi-Fi 6 and 5G offer enormous opportunities for productivity and innovation, but successfully adopting these technologies at scale will be a challenge. These innovations will increase business mobile traffic up to seven times by 2022 and the number of IoT devices will increase to the billions. This makes security more complicated and critical and puts intense pressure on IT to manage and secure a constantly growing network. The businesses that can successfully address each of these challenges will be the ones that thrive in the new wireless era.

Cisco has been re-architecting the network to meet these challenges and unveiled its intent-based networking portfolio to prepare customers for this wireless-first world. With a software-focused approach, the network unlocks data and insights that will enable IT to support the business in real-time. It automates routine tasks and embeds security into the network itself. These efforts are helping customers and consumers capitalize on the opportunities Wi-Fi 6 and 5G offer, while ensuring security and the best user experience in an increasingly connected world.

Cisco also completed Wi-Fi 6 connection tests with Intel and Samsung to address the inevitable issues that come with a new standard. New Wi-Fi 6 access points across Cisco’s Catalyst and Meraki portfolios offer custom, programmable chipsets and access to industry-leading analytics capabilities for businesses. These new APs deliver a more secure wireless network and can communicate with multiple IoT protocols, including BLE, Zigbee and Thread.

We’re also introducing a new core switch for the campus network. For 20 years, the Catalyst 6000 family of switches have served as the very foundation of many customer campus network. It has been one of the most successful, innovative networking products in the history of the Internet. But businesses today require a networking foundation that is built to solve the challenges posed by our new wireless-first world. The new Catalyst 9600 core switch will do just that and will be the foundation for our customer campus networks for many years into the future.

An explosion of innovation is coming. Is your business ready to lead the charge?


Together Wi-Fi 6 and 5G Will Bring a Huge Wave of Innovation

Cisco Welcomes Stella Low as SVP and Chief Communications Officer

Source: Cisco

Every company today is going through a transformation and Cisco is no different. I believe that what has helped us throughout has been the power of communications – frequent, authentic and transparent communications. This principle is incredibly important to me both internally and externally and has served us well. I am incredibly proud of what our teams have accomplished for our customers and communities around the world, and we are honored to share the work that we do.

Today, I was thrilled to announce to the Cisco team that Stella Low will be joining Cisco as our new SVP and Chief Communications Officer. Stella is an exceptional communicator and leader and will serve as a member of my Executive Leadership Team. Given the strategic importance of communications in this digital age and our belief in transparency, how and when we share our story will be a key factor in our future, the success of our customers, and the impact we will have around the world.

Below is the note I shared with our team at Cisco. I am so honored to welcome Stella to the team.


Hi Team,

You’ve heard me say many times how proud I am of what we have accomplished together over the past few years. We have driven game-changing innovation for our customers, evolved our business model and made Cisco a top place to work all around the world. We have an incredible story – shaped by all of you – which is why I’m excited to welcome Stella Low, our new SVP and Chief Communications Officer (CCO), to Cisco and my Executive Leadership Team.

I’m particularly excited for Stella to join our team, not only because of her breadth of expertise in technology communications, but also for her passion for great storytelling, building strong communities and her inclusive, solutions-oriented approach. She knows that the best teams are diverse teams that come together to drive business results and success for our people.

Stella joins us most recently from Dell Technologies where she served as SVP and head of global communications after Dell’s acquisition of EMC. She had previously served as EMC’s head of communications and, prior to that, led EMEA PR and Communications for EMC. She has held various marketing and communications roles in both large and small companies as well as founded her own communications firm.

As our new CCO, Stella will be responsible for shaping our story and reputation in the market. She and the communications team will drive one connected story spanning our business, our technology and our culture with an emphasis on simplicity and innovation. It is critical that we are able to share our strategy and our story both internally and externally, and Stella will be focused on impactful ways to share the great work that we do.

Originally from the UK, Stella has been working her way west. After moving from London to Boston six years ago, Stella and her husband and daughter are relocating to the Bay Area along with their two toy poodles, Pebbles and Bam Bam.

I’m thrilled that Stella will be joining us starting today. I am confident she will be an incredibly valuable member of our team and I look forward to her expertise and counsel. Please join me in welcoming Stella to Cisco, and thank you, as always, for all that you do for Cisco!



Cisco Welcomes Stella Low as SVP and Chief Communications Officer

Unplugged and Uninterrupted: What’s Driving Networking Today

Source: Cisco

Offices. Hospitals. Factories. Hotels. Universities. Sports arenas. In my job, I talk to the people around the world who run technology for all of these types of operations. They tell me that more wireless devices than ever are joining their networks, and that if they have no Wi-Fi, they have no business. Without a network that’s up 24/7, a hospital’s critical medical device might not function. A robot in a warehouse won’t be able to receive commands and a critical process will grind to a halt. A point of sale tablet in a stadium won’t be able to process a fan’s purchase, and perishable demand will be lost.

The network, in short, is critical infrastructure. And the kind of network we’re relying on is changing. In the past, for devices that needed constant connectivity, we’d wire them to our core. Today, our critical devices are just as likely to be wireless: the cart with medical equipment, the roving inventory-picker robot, the handheld ticket scanner. These devices can no longer connect using “best effort” wireless as they might have in the past. The wireless network has to be as rock-solid as wired. It has to provide uninterrupted and unplugged access for users and devices.

Businesses need their IT professionals to understand these issues today, as well as challenges they will be facing in the near future. Having planners who see into the future is one key way businesses stay agile and competitive. So when I speak with IT professionals we often discuss the need to plan for a few key trends.

Trend 1: Expanding Number of Devices Connected

It’s not just that every employee of a business has a device (or two) that they connect to our networks. Today, every single person visiting a business comes with several devices, and the number of devices per person (phone, watch, headphones) continues to grow.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Everything today is getting connected. From light bulbs to medical diagnostic equipment, there is hardly a single new piece of infrastructure that is not connected today, or that won’t be tomorrow. IT staffs are not getting larger to match this growth. For IT to provide uninterrupted connectivity to all these devices, simplicity is the key to scaling up.

Trend 2: Reliability and Security

As much as businesses are eager to adopt the latest technology in their business, the networks must be reliable and safe – all the time, no matter the situation. And the more connections we open up, the more exposure a network has. The major security threats today are also different from what we were protecting from just a few years ago. Today, data theft isn’t the only challenge. We need to protecting networks and devices from outright sabotage. Ransomware is now used to take down businesses. The impact can be brutal. The NotPetya attack cost businesses over $10 billion in 2017, and some of the hardest-hit companies were completely compromised in under four minutes.

Additionally, the bulk of incremental devices landing on the network are unmanaged, not laptops or phones that are managed by IT. This means classical pieces of the security kill chain – endpoint tools such as antivirus software, MDM (Mobile Device Management), and EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) – don’t come into play. The increase in device and OS diversity can also lead to a dramatic rise in alerts from legacy network security tools, making them essentially ineffective for SecOps departments already suffering from alert fatigue. Finally, unmanaged devices can also be weaponized by attackers; they’re often highly vulnerable to botnets, like Mirai, which continue to rapidly evolve.

Trend 3: Immersive and Real-time Computing

The way we interact with technology is evolving, too. Since computing first became part of business, we have moved from batch processing, to command lines, to interactive experiences on our computers and handheld devices. We are now moving into the era of truly immersive computing, in which users will expect real-time and high definition imagery as part of the interface. This means not just pervasive use of high definition collaboration tools (like Cisco’s own Telepresence products) but also expanded use of augmented reality and virtual reality in a variety of business applications. These applications need both high bandwidth and ultra-low latency for their real-time experiences. The same goes for machines that are making real time decisions. Increasingly the expectation is that all of this is achievable over both wired and wireless networks.

Our networks need to support new levels of speed, reliability, and scale. That’s what we’ve been building. We have been working hard on our entire suite of networking products, from Wi-Fi ASICs to core switches, to our software fabric that ties it all together. We believe that when you can work with the network holistically, and not just as series of parts connected through patchwork, you can raise the value of networking and business overall.

The fundamentals of network design in the coming years are anchored in three architectural principles to serve the needs I outlined above. These design points are: Wireless First; Cloud Driven; and Data Optimized.

Wireless First

Every part of our networking stack has to be built for always-on wireless. This means that the entire network, from switch to device, needs to be built to support full-time, uninterrupted access for all users. High-availability systems need to be everywhere, not just in the core of the campus network. Technology like cold and hot patching, perpetual POE, non-stop forwarding (NSF), automated rapid and rolling upgrades, and much more need to be built into every applicable layer of the campus and branch network.

Building wireless-first networks means we no longer think of wired and wireless as two distinct systems. We need to consider the impact of wireless technologies – like new Wi-Fi 6 access points that support four times the bandwidth of current models – at the same time as we plan our wired systems. Wireless, of course, aggregates to wired, and the wired network must also evolve. Technology like multi-gigabit ethernet must be driven into the access layer, which in turn drives higher bandwidth needs at the aggregation and core layers.

Even more importantly, to securely connect and protect the flood of managed and unmanaged devices on our networks, and to manage it all, we must treat the network as a one single software-defined fabric. This allows us to segment the network, and make sure that if one device gets infected by malware it cannot easily spread to other devices.


The cloud has helped businesses achieve great feats at grand scales. It offers the same potential for network management and efficiency.

A cloud-driven network infrastructure provides new capabilities to on-prem network equipment, most importantly by giving your the network access to the continuous improvement inherent in cloud services. When we leverage the cloud we can transform how we operate a network, with better support, better IT processes, and by applying data insights.

Cloud-driven network management also lets Cisco work alongside IT pros. We can work proactively and in real-time when there are issues to address, instead of waiting for a support call. Insights that we gather from cloud-driven peer networks globally enables us to act more dynamically to keep networks functioning at peak efficiency – and makes dynamic, business-led improvements easier as well.

This architectural principle gives IT pros a lot of flexibility. Enterprises can choose what data they share; whether their controller and management layers are on-prem or off; and they can choose how they engage with us for support and consultation.


We can use the data and analytics from our networks not just to improve our networks themselves (making them more secure and more efficient), but to serve our business outcomes. This is the most exciting area of growth in networking. It’s ultimately what networks are for: Driving business forward.

We start with taking the reactive model of IT support and putting it on a new footing: proactive, based on next-generation analytics. We now leverage data to resolve issues before they impact business, or even before a user calls in a problem. If a failure does sneak through, analytics can pinpoint the cause and scope quickly, to speed remediation. We can determine with confidence when an issue is network-related and when it isn’t – speeding up the mean time to innocence for network professionals, which can be key to their career success.

Our businesses operations themselves also generate valuable data. For example, nearly every single person today is carrying a mobile device that will be noticed by a businesses’ wireless access points. Data from these interactions can be applied to all sorts of issues that go straight to the bottom line. We can help a business determine where its customers are and how they flow through their facilities. These insights lead to better customer engagements, and they improve the ROI of a network.

The same technology is being used in medical and industrial facilities now to make sure that high-value equipment is where it’s needed and is staged appropriately when it’s not in use. Solutions like these go straight to business outcomes.

We can also use network data to improve our security posture. We use participating customers’ network telemetry, along with our global threat intelligence, to discern patterns in network traffic that indicate the presence of malware within encrypted traffic. We give enterprises a layer of insight into encrypted traffic — without decrypting it. Based on this posture they can choose to deny this traffic, or selectively decrypt it. They can balance security with privacy, and control for the cost of decrypting traffic at scale.

In sum, we feed data from all network sources into analytics engines and machine learning systems, and this leads to insights we apply to security, IT operations, and business outcomes.

The way forward

This outcome-driven architecture is what we have been building for the last two years. It’s why we are all-in on intent-based networking. For unplugged and uninterrupted networking, we need our systems to be wireless first, cloud-driven, and data-optimized.

To see how we are modernizing the network, from endpoint to device, see our latest news.


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Unplugged and Uninterrupted: What’s Driving Networking Today