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Cisco Tactical Operations: Satisfy Team Member Matt Altman

We have created a fresh blog collection that targets the people behind Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at Cisco. Each blog page in this collection will highlight another Cisco employee who functions carefully with CSR initiatives over the company.


Whenever a disaster or humanitarian crisis occurs, communications is really a form of help, like food just, water, and health care. Responders have to communicate to aid where help is nearly all needed, and folks need to connect to their loved ones. Sometimes of crisis, the Cisco Tactical Operations (TacOps) group provides technologies and expertise. This group is comprised of designers, managers, and options architects focused on building and maintaining systems in disaster zones. The united group is supported by 300 employee volunteers, or the Disaster Incident Reaction Team (DIRT).

Matthew Altman is definitely one of these brilliant TacOps team people on the ground. Listed below are three items you have to know about him.

Matt Altman is a TacOps complex engineer for 16 of the 22 years he’s got been at Cisco.

TacOps group member Matthew Altman

Among Matt’s primary functions is restoring communications after disasters. When he could be not in america, he could be usually deployed to various areas of the world to greatly help connect individuals in disaster zones – whether it’s organic disasters or manmade disasters like refugee crises. “My primary role would be to look at how exactly we can assist, how exactly we can up help individuals come back,” says Matt.

The scope of his expertise and experiences varies a good deal. He’s been with TacOps because the united team started giving an answer to disasters in 2005. In 2010 2010, following a substantial 7.0-magnitude earthquake destroyed elements of Haiti, Matt worked between the rubble to obtain vital communications functioning. While search and rescue quickly happen, body recovery may take much more time – it’s quite common for the team to see extreme working conditions. TacOps associates have become mindful of who switches into a disaster zone and can provide essential post-response support after associates return home.

In 2017/2018, whenever a refugee crisis in northern Uganda reached its tipping point, Matt caused TacOps and NetHope (a Cisco nonprofit partner), to create networks at NGO (nongovernmental organization) sites, clinics, and offices in the camps, and trained the NGO members to control these networks. There is one NGO comprised of former refugees he helped train aswell.

In 2019, when Venezuelan refugees fled to Colombia, Matt drove for five hours through mountains, across the same treacherous route that refugees were walking, between Bogata and Cúcuta. He setup vital networks at shelters along the way for migrants. “We caused an NGO that had a landing page set up, when people logged in to the free Wi-Fi, they’d visit a map of all shelters on the way automatically. That’s so important as you see a complete large amount of women and children, plenty of men walking with backpacks through the cold mountains just. People die with this route.”

When he’s not deployed, Matt and the TacOps team maintain their equipment, ensuring it’s up-to-date, to check out methods to innovate and improve technology solutions. The team also provides technical assistance and consulting to nonprofit organizations seeking to build their response capabilities and solutions. The TacOps team offers Cisco product and remote support through the COVID pandemic to greatly help those on leading lines, including COVID call centers, testing centers, and food bank warehouses. Plenty of local and regional agencies, in addition to municipalities, desire to build their very own solutions, and Matt works together with them too.

Matt is Cisco’s technical engineering liaison for NetHope

TacOps doesn’t enter a tragedy zone alone. There’s a strong network of NGOs that deploy all over the world to supply help where so when it is needed. One of these is NetHope, a consortium of global nonprofit organizations that partners with technology companies, such as for example Cisco, Google, AWS, and Microsoft, to resolve humanitarian and environmental challenges in probably the most impactful and efficient way.

“I use NetHope on the deployments or architectures or special projects they have going on. There are a few Wi-Fi installation projects in Mexico, Brazil, Kenya, and Rwanda which will support the delivery of digital services, such as for example education and cash assistance, and the united team continue their work in Colombia. TacOps also does training for NetHope’s member NGOs and technology partners to boost disaster response capabilities,” Matt says.

“Partnering with NetHope includes a large amount of benefits,” Matt explains. “They do disaster response training and use their members and for the private sector.” Whenever a team is deployed, it could include folks from Facebook, Google, or Amazon. “With this particular training, it’s three days in a classroom and two in the field, and most of us have a component to play. For all of us, it’s standardizing our Meraki deployment.” These trainings enhance the technical expertise of NetHope members and familiarize the teams venturing out in the field to set up, set up, and keep maintaining these networks. “Another best part is we reach do a large amount of innovation with non-Cisco products – we’ve joint labs, and generate NetHope members, and proceed through different technologies.”

The work is done, though. Matt and the TacOps team actively build relationships organizations all over the world, providing tech support team, thought leadership, and capacity-building to these organizations.

Matt is bridging the digital divide

Refugees racing to affix a ride on the trunk of a truck in Colombia

“The ongoing services we offer are free. What’s amazing if you ask me is that people have Cisco supporting the sort or sort of work we do, that we’re permitted to do the task we do, and that we’re funded. It’s humbling,” Matt says.

From Haiti to Nepal, there are lots of memorable moments for Matt, however the recent work he’s finished with refugees from Venezuela and Syria experienced a profound effect on him.

“Seeing people who have their whole lives in a suitcase, walking through mountains; seeing individuals who didn’t have a whole lot already, but things became so very bad they had to leave to be able to survive – it certainly puts things into perspective of what’s important.”

In Greece, Matt helped create networks in another of the bigger refugee camps where Syrians and Afghans lived. The inhabitants were grateful to talk to their own families and learn that which was happening within their world. Both of these groups, who typically usually do not socialize, came together and prepared meals for the TacOps team. “It had been amazing, genuinely, they would do that for all of us,” Matt says. “The meals too really was good!”

The intense work conditions impact on mental wellbeing. Matt has seen items that haven’t sat well with him. He’s grateful for the support supplied by his team and by Cisco. “I don’t really know when there is a right solution to deal with the impact of entering and out of the places, but we continue steadily to do what we do. It’s the way the social people on we are wired. This is actually the ongoing work that drives us. It offers us meaning. It offers us purpose. And we’ll continue carrying it out so long as we can.”

Matt includes a refreshing perspective on the task he does. When asked about any lessons learned, he discussed how opportunity could be a driving force once and for all.

“I was in northern Uganda on an assessment trip with NetHope and UNHCR, speaking with among the UN volunteers. I asked how I was likely to get back to Cisco to attempt to explain why these folks needed connectivity when they’d never really had it before. Their response was, ‘What should they did?’ There’s so much potential – another lawyer, another doctor, another president of one of the countries even, should they just have exactly the same opportunities.”

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