Digital Divide

The Divide: How Cisco and El Paso, Texas, are bringing digital services to at-risk communities

This episode features Nicole Ferrini, climate and sustainability officer for the city of El Paso, Texas, and Gary DePreta, vice president for state, local government and education at Cisco. We discuss a partnership between Cisco and the city of El Paso to launch a portal called El Paso Helps, which connects unhoused individuals and other at-risk community members to essential services, including shelter and housing, addiction and mental health support, and beyond.

We talk about the need for this type of digital service in the city, the technology behind it and the role that Cisco is playing as the city's partner. We also get into lessons learned between the pilot version of El Paso Helps launched in 2020 and the recently relaunched portal, how data from El Paso Helps may ultimately improve city services – and more.

Here are a few topics covered in this episode:

  • The problem El Paso was looking to solve and how the initial idea for El Paso Helps came about (2:00)
  • How Cisco came on board the project and its role (4:55)
  • What's changed about the new El Paso Helps portal since the pilot project (9:15)
  • How the city can collect data through El Paso Helps to improve services (12:00)
  • Current and future funding sources for El Paso Helps (15:50)
  • Additional thoughts on ways to improve digital equity in El Paso and elsewhere (18:05)

For a lightly edited conversation transcript, click the caption button on the video player above.

Related stories and links:

Nicole Ferraro, editor, Light Reading, and host of "​​The Divide" on the Light Reading Podcast.

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