RALEIGH, N.C. - This month, leadership from the 50th Signal Battalion out of Fort Bragg participated in a visit to the Cisco facility in Raleigh, North Carolina. Although the company's headquarters are in San Jose, California, they have a well-equipped facility and team in North Carolina as well. In fact, this is the headquarters for their rapid response communications technology.
The purpose of this visit was twofold. Primarily, the goal was to education leadership from the 50th Signal Battalion on the rapid response technology at Cisco. Secondly, this visit was meant to strengthen the working relationship between the 50th Signal Battalion and the rapid response Tactical Operations team at Cisco. During the visit the guests from the 50th Signal Battalion had an informational session with members of the Tactical Operations team and were able to ask questions about their rapid response program as well as tour their specialized equipment that has been used in rapid response missions for over a decade.
Cisco is one of the world's premier telecommunications companies. They have a large global impact in the technological world. Recently, they have expanded their reach into more humanitarian, outreach programs. In 2003 Cisco formed their Tactical Operations program, a small specialized team of less than ten members who also enable hundreds of volunteers worldwide in disaster response missions. Despite being such a young program, the Tactical Operations program at Cisco has a versatile and impressive history helping with disaster response throughout the world. They have been present to help with almost all of the major disasters in the past decade including Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake, wildfires across the United States, and the refugee crises in both Europe and Uganda. They also donated equipment which could be remotely activated and controlled in response to the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa. At one point, the team provided the only working phone for police in Barbuda.
The Tactical Operations team at Cisco goes by the name DIRT- Disaster Incident Response Team. They consist of 8 members who are full-time employees at Cisco and more than 350 volunteers from outside the company. One of the key pieces of technology at their disposal is NERV (Network Emergency Response Vehicle) which comes in two versions: a fully equipped black truck, and a more portable trailer version.
The truck can be loaded onto a C5 for portable or long-distance usage. The trailer version can be loaded onto either a C5 or C17. Each piece of equipment can be completely turned on and online in approximately 30 minutes when necessary. Another key piece of technology is Meraki which can be configured remotely once connected to the internet. This has been monumental is helping with the Ebola crisis and other disasters in which the team cannot be physically present. Furthermore, the Disaster Incident Response Team has been doing joint missions and operations with the 50th Signal Battalion since 2014.
Cisco has been a huge contributor in providing Wi-Fi, solar power, and communications capabilities in disasters across the world. Their devoted team continues to innovate and work to improve their capabilities and expand to reach more people in need.
This trip provided a great opportunity for the 50th Signal Battalion to see the civilian side of signal technology and achieve a better working relationship so that both Cisco and the Battalion are ready for future mission success.