Cisco challenge winners use AI, IoT to tackle global problems

Top prize goes to a startup in Kenya with a milk-chilling transit system that uses AI to optimize inventory management.

wireless network - internet of things edge [IoT] - edge computing - digital transformation

An IoT-enabled system for transporting dairy products earned its designers the top prize in a competition run by Cisco. The Global Problem Solver Challenge, which is one of Cisco's corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, pays cash awards to entrepreneurial companies using technology to solve the world's biggest challenges.

Now in its fourth year, Cisco's Global Problem Solver Challenge awards $100,000 to the first-place winner and $75,000 to the first runner-up. The program also gives out four $25,000 awards and seven $10,000 prizes.

This year, I was honored to be invited to help judge the 2020 winners. In full disclosure, I agreed to be a judge but I received no compensation, as I believe we all have to work together to make the world a better place. One important consideration for me, as I thought about whether to volunteer my time as a judge, was that this is not a marketing ploy by Cisco to sell more technology. There is no requirement for any of the entries to use Cisco products.

This year, 524 teams submitted entries. More than 80 people made up the judging panel, which evaluated the entries and selected winners from among 20 finalists.

Judging was based on four criteria:

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