Leveraging Technology to Build a Successful Public-Private Partnership

By Laura Quintana, VP of Corporate Affairs at Cisco
Sep 26, 2017 4:35 PM ET

Originally published on TriplePundit

Leveraging technology and innovation is essential to build capacity, streamline programs, and further impact in successful public-private partnerships (PPPs). Technology can be leveraged in two ways: first through the use of technical tools and platforms, and second through the use of technical knowledge to ensure expertise and innovative practices are applied uniformly and consistently to community investment strategies.

At Cisco, we’ve developed our own robust learning platform for Cisco Networking Academy, a world-leading IT skills and career building program. Accessed from netacad.com, the platform delivers learning experiences to students through video and collaboration technologies, the use of simulation tools that closely proximate hands-on experience with network equipment, and the use of big data and assessment technology to provide continuous student feedback.

Cisco’s 16-year partnership with the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is a great example of leveraging technological knowledge. Networking Academy students and recent grads help fill technology gaps at UN agencies, leveraging their digital skills to support development projects. Since 2016, seven graduates trained in IT have been building websites and mobile applications, designing programs using big data, and integrating online and offline activities at UN agencies.

Through this partnership, UN agencies receive technical products that help streamline their programs, as well as much-needed insights from the students on how to better use technology to increase efficiencies and scale solutions. At the same time, the students gain experience in a real work environment and are able to use their skills to contribute to societal and environmental progress.

Mohammad Ilham Akbar Junior is a Networking Academy alumnus and one of the UN Youth Volunteers serving in the UNICEF Indonesia Country Office. Mohammad is serving UNICEF by supporting ICT incubators and labs, undertaking institutional audits of networking and technology needs, and training others to develop their ICT and networking skills.

Mohammad highlighted the uniqueness of his experiences, commenting, “I learned that volunteering is the purest way to understand society because I can be part of it in a positive way and can approach challenges from different angles. Volunteerism is about making your vision of the future real. It is about the journey to become an innovator for an even better future.”

Public-private partnerships play a critical role in achieving global scale and local impact, and technology plays a critical role in helping PPPs streamline efficiencies and further impact. We have an opportunity to close the digital skills gap and promote equitable education – all by leveraging the strengths of the public, private, and nonprofit sectors and using technology to create value for everyone involved.

Image credit: UNICEF, 2017