Can
technology
be a lifeline?

Absolutely. These three stories demonstrate how tech can make the difference between life and death.

Ntombozuko Luningo grew up in a village in South Africa without electricity or running water. But as a promising 16-year-old student, she was awarded a scholarship for admission to college in Johannesburg, 10 hours away, where she studied computer networking through the Cisco Networking Academy. The skills she learned have given her family a comfortable life in the city, and she has built a new home for her parents back in the village.

But personal success wasn’t enough for Luningo, whose nickname is Soso. She decided to leave her job in IT to become an instructor focused on educating youth who shared her disadvantaged background. She went on to take a role with Networking Academy and got involved in an effort to bring better connectivity to villages and townships in poor provinces. Her goal is to ensure that locals will be ready for the technological jobs that result.

If we bring digital skills into villages like ours, we won’t have to import people from Johannesburg or Cape Town,” she says.

Soso's Story
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It’s no longer enough for organizations to simply produce a high-quality product or service. Customers, employees and investors are increasingly demanding that businesses work to help make the world a better place. As the “corporate citizenship” imperative has taken hold, companies are finding new ways to make stronger contributions to global society.

It’s no longer enough for organizations to simply produce a high-quality product or service. Customers, employees and investors are increasingly demanding that businesses work to help make the world a better place. As the “corporate citizenship” imperative has taken hold, companies are finding new ways to make stronger contributions to global society.

For example, Cisco Networking Academy enrolled 1.87 million students in fiscal year 2018 alone. Of those who have completed the curriculum’s advanced courses, 70 percent say it helped them get a new job or find a better job opportunity. More than half of the Networking Academy students are from developing countries that are struggling with youth unemployment even as they race to achieve 21st century connectivity.

Youth Unemployment Dilemma

The global unemployment rate of people under the age of 25 is

0
which is three times higher than adults
0
Source: International Labour Organization

For disadvantaged people, technology might not seem as vital as food, water or housing. But it can provide a crucial path to fulfilling those needs, says Farid Baddache, a managing director with Business for Social Responsibility, a consultancy.

Connectivity
can save
lives

Neopenda is developing affordable wearable devices that can monitor newborns’ vital signs

When visiting intensive-care wards in Uganda, biomedical engineers Sona Shah and Teresa Cauvel were upset to see neonatal incubators sitting unused while newborns were dying of preventable causes. Apart from being expensive and hard to fix, the machines couldn’t function reliably due to frequent blackouts in the hospitals.

A Global Problem

number of babies that die annually in their first month of life
98 of these deaths occur in
the developing world
Source: Neopenda

Shah and Cauvel invented a small wearable device for newborns that measures key vital signs and sends the information to a tablet monitored by a nurse. The system is battery-powered, so it does not require continuous electricity, and it relies on Bluetooth so it doesn’t require an Internet connection. Their solution can monitor several children for less than the cost of a single incubator.

Shah and Cauvel invented a small wearable device for newborns that measures key vital signs and sends the information to a tablet monitored by a nurse. The system is battery-powered, so it does not require continuous electricity, and it relies on Bluetooth so it doesn’t require an Internet connection. Their solution can monitor several children for less than the cost of a single incubator.

Shah and Cauvel’s firm, Neopenda, won a $100,000 Cisco Global Problem Solver Prize, part of the Rice Business Plan Competition. Their device is now undergoing clinical testing. Their ambition is to bring affordable vital-signs monitoring not only to hospitals but also to rural settings throughout the developing world.

Medical devices that were developed in developed countries often aren’t feasible in places like Uganda,” says Shah. “Advances in the Internet of Things, such as affordable and reliable wireless and sensor technology, allow us to leapfrog those devices to provide more appropriate solutions.”

Neopenda’s Story
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The digital safety net

Orange Sky has built an
innovative mobile solution that
aids the homeless

Helping the homeless wouldn’t normally seem like a high-tech endeavor, yet “connectivity is at the core of what we do,” says Nic Marchesi, co-founder of Australian charity Orange Sky.

Helping the homeless wouldn’t normally seem like a high-tech endeavor, yet “connectivity is at the core of what we do,” says Nic Marchesi, co-founder of Australian charity Orange Sky.

Our data brings our volunteers, our donors and our clients along with us on our journey.”

OrangeSky’s Story
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Orange Sky volunteers drive vans equipped with washer/dryers and showers for homeless people to use. A broadband network connects each van to headquarters. At any given moment, the Orange Sky team has a real-time view of where each van is located, which volunteers are on duty, the detergent and water levels in each van, and more.

Some of the data feeds directly back to Orange Sky’s website, so donors can see exactly how their dollars are being translated into showers, laundry loads or even conversations between volunteers and homeless clients. The data also enables analysis that helps ensure the team uses its resources most efficiently, whether that’s detergent, gas or volunteer time.

In just four years, the Orange Sky fleet has grown to 28 vans run by 1,500 volunteers. Cisco has provided volunteer expertise and equipment discounts for the company.

Some of the data feeds directly back to Orange Sky’s website, so donors can see exactly how their dollars are being translated into showers, laundry loads or even conversations between volunteers and homeless clients. The data also enables analysis that helps ensure the team uses its resources most efficiently, whether that’s detergent, gas or volunteer time.

In just four years, the Orange Sky fleet has grown to 28 vans run by 1,500 volunteers. Cisco has provided volunteer expertise and equipment discounts for the company.

Technology has been vital to helping the charity serve more people effectively, says Orange Sky’s co-founder, Lucas Patchett. In fact, the charity’s first hire was a software developer, and the organization may soon offer some of its tech tools to other charities. The co-founders share a vision of technology connecting social service providers to strengthen the safety net for all displaced people.

Technology has been vital to helping the charity serve more people effectively, says Orange Sky’s co-founder, Lucas Patchett. In fact, the charity’s first hire was a software developer, and the organization may soon offer some of its tech tools to other charities. The co-founders share a vision of technology connecting social service providers to strengthen the safety net for all displaced people.

Supporting underserved populations around the globe is no small task. There are many challenges to overcome on the way to building a foundation that can last over the long term.

Supporting underserved populations around the globe is no small task. There are many challenges to overcome on the way to building a foundation that can last over the long term.

Three Stages of Digital Readiness

Cisco and Gartner Inc partnered to create a framework and scoring
system that measures the digital readiness of 118 countries.

Amplify
26 countries
Highest stage of digital readiness with a continued need for human capital development focused on higher-level training for enhanced digitization.
Accelerate
52 countries
Moderate stage of digital readiness with a need for critical human needs, human capital development, and improvements in the ease of doing business in the region.
Activate
40 countries
Lowest stage of digital readiness with a need for critical human needs and human capital development.
Source: Modeling an Inclusive Digital Future whitepaper