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INNOVATOR 2005: Case Western Reserve University


OneCleveland: A Model for Community NetworkingCase Western Reserve University/ CWRU CIO Lev Gonick
In January 2003, Case Western Reserve University’s (OH) then-new President, Edward M. Hundert, challenged university leadership to engage with the community, and help Case become the best university neighbor any city ever had. Lev Gonick, Case’s CIO and VP/IT Services, clarifies Hundert’s vision that Case should be a major contributor to the vitality of the inner city, and also serve as a catalytic agent for overcoming the digital divide: “OneCleveland has been informed by a mission to be a big, bold, 21st century, community-oriented project that delivers advanced information technology capabilities to achieve community priorities for economic development, learning, job training, research support, preeminence, and distinction.”

Technology Choice/Project Design
OneCleveland began as an extension of the Case gigabit IP network. Gonick offers the technical details: The Layer 3 (L3) network, designed with the assistance of Cisco Systems ( and now managed by Case partners at IBM (, is built on an all-fiber-optic infrastructure capable of handling growth. Today, OneCleveland and its subscribers move gigabit-speed routing between the nearly 100 institutional subscribers and their respective multi-building facilities, accounting for more than 300 Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series switches. The network architecture consists of multiple 10 Gbps core and distribution L3 switches with multiple 1 Gbps uplinks to the address. OneCleveland’s network interconnects with Case as metropolitan area networks (MANs) building an L3 core, which will utilize Dense Wavelength- Division Multiplexing (DWDM) with 1-Gbps connections at the edge where subscribers join. Dual paths throughout make the network highly resilient and reliable. Gonick is watching the growing number of institutions within the OneCleveland community that are now making free public wireless services available as an additional layer of mobile connectivity at various museums and city, county, health care, and education facilities. Partnerships with OARnet, Platform Labs, Internet2, NLR, and the emerging OH1 provide OneCleveland’s subscribers either direct or aggregated access to these key regional and national transportation systems. Commodity Internet-bound traffic today approximates 500 Mb/sec and is scalable.
Key Players
Initially conceived and driven by Gonick, the design and rollout of the OneCleveland gigabit network effectively delivers nearly unlimited bandwidth to community partners (subscribers), helping to create a network and platform for innovation and provocative application development. Gonick offers a brief history and profile of OneCleveland: The initial OneCleveland Board includes partners from higher education—Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University and Cuyahoga Community College—plus the Cleveland Municipal School District, Cuyahoga County, the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga Public Library System, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Metro Health System, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and ideastream (; PBS/NPR WVIZ/ WCPN). The group of technology visionaries appointed by their CEOs was charged with the technical design, business case, and development of community mindshare. Over the past year, OneCleveland has been run by two executives, Scot Rourke (CEO) and Mark Ansboury (COO), with an executive on loan, Dennis Risen, who serves as the organization’s technical director. From the outset, OneCleveland has also included technology vendor partners led by Cisco Systems, IBM (which successfully bid on network operations management), Intel Corp. (, Sun Microsystems (, and regional fiber company Cavalier Telephone. More recently, strategic relations with Time Warner Cable (, Adelphia (, and First Energy/First Communication ( have provided better access to frontiers like Akron, Youngstown, and Canton.

OneCleveland is much more than a fiber optic network delivering gigabit-speed connectivity and broadband wireless services to the region’s governments, schools, universities, museums, and healthcare institutions, says Gonick. It is both a vision and a technological platform for helping to reinvent the economic foundations of this once-leading manufacturing giant. “Most important, it has become a common rallying cry, both among those seeking the messy vitality of the Internet age, as well as the most-respected city elders who understand that their legacy is intimately linked to the success of OneCleveland,” Gonick observes.

Gonick points out the IT manager’s perspective: Case now has a model in which it is no longer trading off bandwidth for budget. By wholesaling commodity Internet access through the regional aggregation model, OneCleveland has removed what Gonick calls a “major Tylenol-3 headache,” and provided all of OneCleveland’s subscribers with nearly unlimited bandwidth for collaboration and the baseline activities of running the region’s public and non-profit assets. The growing ubiquity of wireless services has led to a significant paradigm shift in the management of technology within OneCleveland, says Gonick. Everything from how offices are built and how people work, to ways to procure and support mobile computing, has helped to introduce new opportunities and challenges.

OneCleveland has provided all of its subscribers with nearly unlimited bandwidth for collaboration, and for running the region's public assets.

From the perspective of business attraction and retention, and catalyzing new products and services, OneCleveland has helped to validate numerous new broadband wireless services being introduced among the network’s subscriber base. It has also helped to validate advanced, high-definition videobased services from Television over IP, to thousands of interactive video conferencing collaborations made possible by partnerships with Radvision ( There is even some early experimentation underway with Sony ( and LifeSize ( in the area of near-highdef-quality video conferencing. New private sector investors and technology parks have been formed that explicitly leverage those public and non-profit institutions subscribed to OneCleveland. Building and construction developers are working with OneCleveland to design communities of the future. Innovators like Hexagram Inc. ( are now delivering meter-reading technologies (water, gas, electric) over Wi-Fi, another dimension of the digital city initiatives associated with OneCleveland.

In very forward-looking projects, it’s sometimes difficult to separate the surprises from fulfilled dreams, but for Gonick, the most stunning and rewarding aspect of OneCleveland has been the growing number of collaborations that cut across traditional sectors and boundaries within the community. Meaningful collaborations—between the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cuyahoga Public Libraries; between the Cuyahoga Public Libraries and Cleveland Hopkins Airport; among the regional health care providers; and among Case, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Institute of Music, and the Cleveland Municipal School System in the direct delivery of interactive, near-high-definition science education, healthcare education, and music education—are all underway. OneCleveland has also helped advance institutional goals like those of ideastream (Cleveland’s PBS and NPR affiliate), delivering its programming not only in the broadcast mode, but now directly over IP networks to OneCleveland subscribers like schools and hospitals, and even through early experimentations with mobile/wireless networks. “These are provocative applications, many funded through external grants that have both helped to validate the OneCleveland ultra-broadband strategy and also helped to validate the role of technology evangelists in helping to transform, or at least provoke, their respective institutions,” says Gonick.
Next Steps

Through Case’s leadership, and with key help from key vendors like Cisco Systems, OneCleveland has been able to transform a city of smokestacks and heavy industry into a digital city of the 21st century where technology is leveraged in ways to meet the business, civic, and educational needs of the residents.

OneCleveland is now expanding beyond the boundary of its name, moving into neighboring Summit County in Northeast Ohio.The network has already attracted big business, and Gonick reports that businesses from as far away as Korea are exploring the network as a venue for testing new high-bandwidth applications. The capacity of the network is also very attractive to researchers and prospective graduate students, and is being used to market the university as a destination of choice for serious researchers.

Finally, over the next 12 to 18 months, OneCleveland will be offering additional value-added services to its subscribers, most notably support for the world’s first community computing platform. The Community Computing Platform, launched over the summer of 2005 with support from Sun Microsystems, will allow Case and the OneCleveland community to offer Web servers, blogs,Wikis, and other computational-based services running over OneCleveland to advance the community’s priorities.


Executive sponsorship matters, advises Gonick. Support from the CEOs, presidents, and thought leaders in the community is an essential prerequisite. Equally important, says Gonick, is “continuing to encourage the articulation of local community priorities; encouraging the leadership to take the ‘big bet’ has been vital.” Local community-based computing centers, students, faculty leaders, physicians, librarians, engineers, entrepreneurs, and wireless aficionados have all contributed to the dynamic of rising expectations and the articulation of needs, he points out.

Is success itself a challege? Says Gonick: “We are now living through some challenges, including the challenge of delivering services to a growing number of institutions as well as to a growing geographic footprint.” But there’s no doubt about Case living through it, and thriving with OneCleveland.