Inder Sidhu on Smart and Connected Communities

Basically, the world is getting more and more urbanized. You see that when you’re out there, especially in the emerging countries. You have 500 million people who are going to be urbanized in the next few years. Existing cities are all suffering from issues like congestion, pollution, inaccessible healthcare and education not being affordable.

There are mayors of these cities who control entire budgets, who worry about how to create a better, more sustainable, smarter, more connected city. That’s where I think Cisco could really help.

What we’ve found, and it might sound a little bit self-serving, but I think it’s more the truth, is that when we look at all these problems, such as healthcare, education, safety and security, sustainability, etc., a lot of them naturally lead to the network as the answer.

For instance, one of the things that we’re doing in India now is making healthcare available in a more accessible fashion, with a $1 per doctor visit. Or we’re doing education for $1 per student per month, all available remotely. And we use our own technology to help perpetuate that. Or safety and security, where you could monitor what’s going on in a network-centric, central way.

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All these issues should eventually use the power of things being connected to each other. Connected could mean security cameras that are on lamp posts all across the city, or Wi-Fi connectivity, or telepresence being used for health monitoring. Combining the power of the network that drives connectivity with the power of the human beings that sit at the end of the network and make their expertise available across the network provides huge opportunities.

To me, that’s very exciting, because that means that Cisco’s not going to play in the pool of money called IT budget dollars, but it’s going to play in a different pool of money which is called construction, real estate, and urban planning, and socio-economic spending. We’re following real issues that mayors, prime ministers, government leaders face to make their societies a better place, and we’re doing it in a very network-centric way. I think it represents a huge opportunity for Cisco.