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Cisco recently announced the launch of an end-to-end secure collaboration platform that will usher in the next wave of hybrid learning. Picture: 123RF/fizkes
Cisco recently announced the launch of an end-to-end secure collaboration platform that will usher in the next wave of hybrid learning. Picture: 123RF/fizkes

It’s hard to believe that 18 months ago, a major pandemic turned the world upside down and resulted in unimaginable consequences. Overnight, we had to rethink learning, work and health care. 

From the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT and networking, has focused on a response and recovery plan. The company’s attention was channelled into health care and education due to the critical role these sectors play in society.

These industries are now rethinking the way they prioritise and invest in their IT infrastructure and how digital technologies can be used to empower professors, learners, administrators, doctors and patients.

Building bridges to the future of learning

Globally, more than 1.5-billion learners fortunate enough to access remote learning moved to online schooling platforms last year due to the pandemic.

Though education is returning to a semblance of normality, the impact of digital technologies on the sector cannot be ignored.

Today, education is at a critical turning point. This raises the question of how educational organisations can prepare for and prioritise investments in the future of learning.

About the author: Charmaine Houvet is senior public policy director at Cisco Africa. Picture: SUPPLIED/CISCO
About the author: Charmaine Houvet is senior public policy director at Cisco Africa. Picture: SUPPLIED/CISCO

Cisco believes that technology can be used to provide opportunities for all and bring about a future that is better and brighter than today.

Education must be more accessible and inclusive for students and educators. Students understand the value of joining class from anywhere. Virtual learning tools are also helping learners with ADHD, hearing or visual impairment, or unique learning styles.

Cisco’s networking, security and collaboration portfolio is helping educational facilities in SA and the rest of the world create safe, dynamic environments that enable a more empowering learning experience.

The company recently announced the launch of an end-to-end secure collaboration platform that will usher in the next wave of hybrid learning. Based on Cisco’s award-winning Webex product line, this platform includes its latest web-based interactive solution, Webex Classrooms.

Cisco’s commitment to education goes beyond its products and services. To date, it has helped more than 527-million people through social impact grants and signature programmes.

In the past year, it donated $53m (about R821m) in cash and personal protective equipment to non-profit organisations, as well as Covid-19 first responders.

Building bridges to the future of health care

Technology is now synonymous with health care.

Patient and clinician expectations and the acknowledgment that care can be delivered differently are driving healthcare organisations towards unprecedented digital transformation.  

But with rapid transformation comes challenges. There’s the fear of cybersecurity breaches and an ever-growing digital divide between those who have access to devices, connectivity and digital literacy — and those who do not.

The pandemic has also placed additional pressures on the already short-staffed global healthcare workforce. This is why many SA hospitals turned to telemedicine during the hard lockdown last year and subsequent Covid-19 waves.

Cisco partnered with Ricata, a telemedicine solution expert and a Cisco small business partner, to develop 10 mobile medical trolleys that were used as part of an eight-week pilot project at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Joburg.

Mobile medical trolleys, developed by Cisco and Ricata, were used as part of a pilot project at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Joburg. Picture: Supplied/Cisco
Mobile medical trolleys, developed by Cisco and Ricata, were used as part of a pilot project at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Joburg. Picture: Supplied/Cisco

With 3,400 beds spread across a 170-acre site, the hospital’s facilities are housed within 429 buildings over a total surface area of almost 234,000m2. On average, doctors walk about 20km a day as they move between wards to consult with patients and respond to emergencies.

The medical trolleys, which were used in the hospital’s persons under investigation wards, enabled several senior staff members to conduct virtual ward rounds with more junior colleagues.

The trolleys are designed to allow for two-way voice and video communication as well as content sharing. They offer white boarding capabilities in real time with multiple parties on a single call.

The “one button to push” approach for initiating a collaboration call has provided several efficiencies. In some instances, the trolleys eliminated the need for medical staff to travel between wards, allowing more time for consultations and patient care.

Partner collaboration

Partners play a key role in enabling a hybrid experience in this “new” environment.

For Cisco, they are at the forefront of how the company helps customers across industry sectors pivot their business models, enable secure remote access and drive operational efficiencies across their entire organisational footprints.

Cisco relies on its partners’ knowledge of third-party ecosystem integrations to complement its own capabilities and support its customers’ business requirements.

Cisco truly lives its purpose by working with partners and an ecosystem of stakeholders to harness innovation to ensure a more inclusive future for all. 

This article was paid for by Cisco Africa.

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