On Monday Cisco announced that Michigan is the first state to join Cisco’s State Digital Acceleration (SDA) program, a 3-year targeted collaboration program to advance the state’s digital agenda. Cisco announced the SDA initiative in Detroit at the 2017 North American International Cyber Summit hosted by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

The SDA initiative is a state version of Cisco’s existing Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) program. The CDA program has been around for three years and is active in 16 countries and seeks to help countries grow GDP, streamline government services, attract new investment and increase innovation capabilities.

“Today I am more optimistic than ever about the future of my home state of Michigan, where I have spent my entire career including the past 21 years at Cisco,” said Alison Gleeson, senior vice president of the Americas, Cisco in a blog post. “Michigan has made great strides to overcome setbacks faced during the Great Recession, and the economy is coming back in a big way, thanks in large part to the state’s push to accelerate digital innovation and strengthen its workforce.”

As part of participation in the program, Cisco committed to a series significant investments in Michigan as part of the three-year partnership, which is aimed at making Michigan “one of the most secure and digitally advanced” in the nation.

“Michigan is fortunate to have forward-looking leaders like Governor Rick Snyder, who understands the role of technology in Michigan’s continued economic transformation,” Gleeson said.

The program will focus on five pillars:

  • The Mobility State: Connected Roadways
    Michigan has long been known as the car state, and Cisco hopes to capitalize on that reputation and expertise. Michigan has been quick to jump on the latest innovations in connected and autonomous vehicles, which Cisco will explore further. Cisco is looking to partner with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to pilot Cisco Connected Roadways throughout Michigan, with the goal of enhancing passenger and roadside worker safety. The Connected Roadways technology captures real-time data about traffic flows, environmental conditions, and road conditions, which will enable the automation of critical safety decisions like reducing speed limits on variable message signs.
  • Innovative Digital Economy: Digital Manufacturing and Supply Chain
    This initiative will include a partnership with Wayne State University to help develop its Smart/Digital Manufacturing Center in Detroit. The center will be a 25,000-square-foot innovation and validation hub focused on advancing innovation in manufacturing, specifically in automation and robotics.
  • Workforce of the Future: Digital Training and Education
    Cisco will help Michigan address its workforce shortage issues with its Networking Academy. The Networking Academy is Cisco’s IT skills and career building program. The Networking Academy has been operating in Michigan for 20 years and has already trained 30,000 Michiganders. Through SDA, Cisco hopes to double the enrollment in the  state from 3,000 students currently to 8,000 students by 2020.
  • Citizen-Centric Government
    Michigan already has significant experience with improving government services through technology, including being one of the first states to centralize IT functions into a single department. However, Cisco believes there are further avenues for improvement. Cisco plans to partner with the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget (DTMB) to improve services delivered to citizens and state agencies including collaboration around a converged network platform for innovation in the future in services, security, collaboration, and cloud.
  • Smart and Thriving Communities
    Gov. Snyder wants to grow Michigan’s population to 10 million by 2020 and Cisco believes technology can help attract people to the state. Cisco wants to create ‘smart’ and thriving communities in both rural and urban areas within the state. The SDA program will prioritize smart solutions to make Michigan a safer and more attractive place to live.

“Through this incredible program, I believe Michigan is well positioned to be America’s next great tech hub,” Gleeson said. “As a native Michigander, I consider it a great privilege to play a role in helping make that a reality.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs