16 Countries ‘Digitized,’ Cisco Turns Focus to US States


Cisco State Digital Accelerator Michigan

Flyover Country needs help in catching up with America’s digital hot spots. So one of Silicon Valley’s titans, Cisco, aims to help in the form of a new initiative it calls the State Digital Acceleration program, which is modeled on its ongoing Country Digital Acceleration program that now spans 16 countries.

Its first beneficiary: Michigan, once the buckle of the Rust Belt. As its automakers and others flex their growing digital muscle, Michigan has come a long way in the last several years toward becoming a state whose mastery of new-era technologies must be reckoned with—particularly as it competes in the self-driving arena.

Michigan will be the first state to join the State Digital Acceleration (SDA) program, a three-year targeted collaboration program to advance the state’s digital agenda, Cisco’s innovation investment and train the workforce of the future.

Cisco, #16 on Interbrand’s Best Global Brands ranking, aims to advance that by launching a digital acceleration program aimed at boosting Michigan’s development of roadways that complement autonomous and connected vehicles, including piloting “Cisco Connected Roadways” that will provide the state with real-time data to improve passenger and worker safety.

For example, Cisco is interested in exploring ways to assist the Michigan Department of Transportation in notifying drivers about poor weather conditions as well as the exact geographic point at which a driver is expected to hit such conditions.

Cisco also will partner with Wayne State University in Detroit to create an advanced manufacturing training program and to hire 300 instructors to expand in Michigan the footprint of its Networking Academy, an IT skills and career-building curriculum that the internet titan provides to schools and other organizations.

“Creating smart and thriving communities will be critical to attracting people to come live, work and invest in Michigan, in rural and urban areas alike,” wrote Alison Gleeson, SVP Cisco Americas (and a native Michigander). “Cisco’s SDA program will prioritize smart solutions to making Michigan a safer and more attractive place to live. As a global leader in Smart and Connected Community solutions, we look forward to working with Michigan communities to continue this positive momentum.”

“It’s our mission to reach out to the citizens and deliver improved services to them,” said David DeVries, Michigan CIO and director of the Department of Technology, Management and Budget. “This will provide a framework for better government and connected services. It’s also a chance to partner with Cisco as they evolve their digital acceleration program.”

A second U.S. state will be named by the end of the year to the Cisco program, a local state extension of its previous Country Digital Acceleration Strategy, an ongoing “long-term partnership with national leadership, industry & academia. By accelerating the national digitization agenda, the country will grow GDP, create new jobs and provide innovation and education across public & private sectors.”