By the Editorial staff

Last year our world changed. We woke up one morning …. And suddenly all of our daily routines had been turned upside down: no work, no school, no day-care, no walks, sports or meetings with friends and family … it had all disappeared. A tiny virus, invisible but insidious, brought the planet to its knees, bringing with it death, loneliness and despair. Initially we were dazed, stunned and filled with a sense of powerlessness … but then we summoned our courage, rolled our sleeves up and started to get up again. That was made possible, in part, by technology, which with its unlimited possibilities allowed us to reinvent how we work, study, communicate and feel close to people, even at a distance.

Cisco, which has always been a global technology leader, transforming the way people connect, communicate and collaborate, played a key role in this terrible year. The company’s mission was to shape the future of the internet, creating as much value and as much opportunity as possible for society, for its clients, employees, investors and partners.  For over thirty years it has been at the heart of the evolution of network technologies. Its success is due to its ability to identify and anticipate new scenarios, its decision to invest in talent and in research and development, its application of open innovation strategies and its constant dialogue with customers and partners all over the world. 

In Italy, the company has participated in the country’s development and has supported it in creating the Agenda Digitale. The Digitaliani investment plan is the most recent demonstration of this. Announced in January 2016, it initially made $100 million available over three years to accelerate digitalisation in Italy and continues to this day with projects and initiatives such as the creation in Milan of the first Cisco Co-Innovation Centre in Europe dedicated to cybersecurity. 

This demonstrates that digitalisation creates great opportunities for society as well, as it makes it possible to face the problems we are confronted with in new ways: education, health, quality of life, environmental protection, rights. With technology it is possible to build a world that is more equitable and inclusive and Cisco is committed to using technology to multiply the positive impact that the company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives have, which it promotes with its employees all over the world. Based on these solid foundations and the corporate values that have always distinguished Cisco, at the start of the pandemic it was decided that the company would join the #Lascuolacontinua project, devised by Ilaria Capua and promoted by the Associazione Copernicani, with the methodological support of the Centro Studi Impara Digitale, which we joined alongside Google, IBM, Tim and WeSchool. Together, we have built a community that has allowed schools, managers and teachers to count on a single source of support to help them adopt free platforms to create digital classrooms, share content, test learning and do distance learning. All of this via a simple tablet or smartphone and with a single goal: to keep teaching going digitally. 

Cisco provided the Webex Meetings platform, which enables remote working, planning and participating in meetings, collaborating and sharing documents and data. Over 170 employee volunteers took up the challenge and immediately began providing ongoing support to Italian teachers and educational institutions to help them to install and use the platform correctly and thus enable remote lessons. This was a commitment that was carried out with passion and dedication and allowed teachers all over Italy to consolidate or even learn IT skills that have enabled millions of students to participate in online learning. Hopefully, the pandemic will not last forever, which is why we are looking confidently to the future with the T-Station Academy Project, which has just started. This is the first project carried out by a Cisco partner, Gencom Srl, with a non-profit organisation, Impresa Sociale CavaRei. CavaRei assists, rehabilitates and employs over 130 people with disabilities in the Forlì area; Gencom, an ICT company offering IT consultancy services, strongly believes that while doing business it is necessary to express a strong sense of social responsibility. This was a perfect combination for an initiative that aims to enhance and develop soft skills and increase competencies in the technological field, in an atmosphere geared towards having a social impact. 

This is the reason for including a Cisco Networking Academy in a social space, that of the T-Station Academy, aimed at all ICT professionals and the community (with a particular focus on young people) which has as its main objectives:

– To make tangible the values and social principles that Gencom and CavaRei share; 

– To create a training school of excellence on ICT topics in collaboration with Cisco Academy to provide the skills required by the market; 

– To add a Social Lab to the Academy, that is, a place where the current services that CavaRei Lab offers can be combined with community proposals, such as the activation of a CoderDojo for teaching computer science to children. 

Adding a Social Lab to the Academy, i.e. a place where the current services of the CavaRei Lab can be combined with community-based proposals, such as the creation of a CoderDojo to teach computer science to children. The added value of this operation is represented by the company’s ability to generate a social activity for the community, the country, its workers, its own reference network, for the disabled people at CavaRei, for the families who wish to introduce IT to their children and for the students at local technical institutes who will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience. In addition, the collaboration between CavaRei and Gencom will allow some disabled people, in charge of the social enterprise, to carry out activities at the company and represent a driver of value both for the workers and for the company. 

“The project designed by Gencom embodies very well what drives us and makes us invest time and resources in spreading digital skills: the conviction that they are a tool for growth and opportunities at all levels and for all people. Technology is the lever with which we can build a more inclusive future, and as our experiences over the last few months have shown us, it is essential to be able to react and adapt to new scenarios. Collaboration between companies, institutions, and the world of education is the key to the rapid, large-scale implementation of projects aimed at creating these opportunities and supporting the needs of society, as happened with #lascuolacontinua” commented Gianmatteo Manghi, CEO of Cisco Italia. 

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