Cisco invests $500m in making Berlin a smart city

Security, telemedicine and network infrastructure are at the top of the list.

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Telefonica

Cisco is working with Berlin's government officials to push forward plans in making the city smarter.

The San Jose, California-based IT firm announced plans last week to work with Berlin's Senate Department of Economics, Technology and Research in digitizing the lives of Berlin's residents.

In a statement, the company said telemedicine -- remote communication and the diagnosis of patients across digital platforms -- security and network infrastructure improvements are the main areas of focus.

Cornelia Yzer, Senator for Economics, Technology, and Research in Berlin, and Anil Menon, the Global President of Smart+Connected Communities, joined with Cisco to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, leading to the investment as part of Cisco's $500 million "Deutschland Digital" initiative.

The "Deutschland Digital" program, announced in March this year, is Cisco's answer to accelerating the country's digitization.

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Oliver Tuszik, the general manager of Cisco's German branch, said that digitization benefits countries, cities, and companies by "creating competitiveness, improving public services and better quality of life." As a result, Cisco "would like to make our contribution to this transformation, in addition to our ongoing investments."

Through the smart city investment, Cisco hopes to improve telemedicine by establishing a health platform which will allow healthcare professionals, hospitals and emergency services to exchange data -- once permission is granted by patients -- for applications potentially including medical research.

The IT firm and government officials say this platform could also "help provide more efficient medical care for refugees in the city."

Cisco plans to build a similar platform for the use of public safety and emergency services such as the police, fire brigades and hospitals to use to improve the security of Berlin's residents. The Security Operations Center (SOC) is aimed at improving response times in emergency scenarios and severe weather -- and by integrating weather, traffic and environmental data, Cisco hopes core service staff will have the information they need in emergencies to handle them more effectively.

Finally, the tech giant wants to bring the vast range of companies and organizations already turning towards digital solutions together through a "horizontal networking infrastructure" that will be open to all. Based on open international standards, the network will also include security and analytics capabilities.

"We are proud to support Berlin in taking this important step. Digitization is a great opportunity for the city to benefit even more from its attractiveness. By signing this Memorandum of Understanding, we want to contribute to improving the quality of life for all citizens and give the Berlin economy an additional boost," Tuszik commented.

Read on: Palo Alto CIO: What are smart cities?

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