Friday, February 19, 2010

Marc's Voice » Shooting for the Moon

Marc's Voice » Shooting for the Moon

I’m often asked why I moved to Cleveland, Ohio. I can now start to show hard evidence of the kind of people, efforts and spirit that typify the Cleveland area - and in particular at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) - which is where I am teaching.
Google announced a gigabit networking experiment this past week and it so happens that this is EXACTLY what has already been going on here at CWRU!
Lev Gonick, the CIO of CWRU: “Google’s $1b Gigabit Fiber to the Home Moon Shot”:
Back in November 2009, Case Western Reserve University announced a 104 household gigabit network research program led by a partnership of more than 40 community partners and a dozen leading technology vendors. A proto-type of a 21st century integrated public services platform, our ‘beta block’ project seeks to deliver (on an opt-in basis) neighborhood safety, health and wellness, science education, and energy sustainability to the 250 residents in Cleveland’s historic Hessler Street.
Connecting the 104 residences to a community anchor middle mile organizations (in this case Case Western Reserve University) serves as an archetypal and use case for four additional neighborhood gigabit fiber project being planned for distinct neighborhoods around our University Circle (see this short YouTube clip to learn a bit more about the current challenges and opportunities ahead in an inner city, urban context).
Each of the proposed beta blocks will be wired back to a middle mile anchor institution. Perhaps unique, in Northeast Ohio some 1800 public sector institutions like K-12 schools, universities, health care providers, governments, museums and libraries leverage an award winning, 22 county, community non-profit Internet Service Provider built on gigabit fiber optics, called OneCommunity. The product of six years of collaboration and inspired technical leadership, OneCommunity is a model for building a regional community network as a 21st century community asset……
As the communities around University Circle in Cleveland think about how to respond to the Google moon shot challenge, think about building on our strengths. Cleveland is a mosaic of distinct neighborhoods and cultural communities. Let’s design our future by embracing common technical standards, leverage our local middle mile assets, and challenging our technology leaders to join our civic, philanthropic, and other community leaders to help re-imagine, re-invent, and re-invigorate our region. Google’s challenge is a clarion call to resist the temptation to design a 25 year graceful decline as the ‘best we can hope for
Lev has been working on this project - for over five years.
He has cultivated relationships in the surrounding community, keeping the key goal in the front of his mind: “we need to bridge the digital divide and GUARANTEE that the public will have ubiquitous full bandwidth connectivity running down their streets  into their curbs and up into their homes and apartments.  1,000 mbps connections!”
He’s sort of like a modern day Tom Johnson the progressive Mayor of Cleveland from 1901-1909.  Johnson used tents to collect the people together and Lev uses the Internet.
Lev has reached out to Cleveland’s power elite - one of the richest treasure troves of foundation cash, insider execs and retired business leaders - all sitting here wondering what they can do to help Cleveland “come back!”
With brilliant maneuvering reminiscent of a Wash. D.C. super lobbyist, Lev utilizes ’schvitzes’ and yearly picnics to bring together the players, foundations and government officials needed to “connect our communities” together.
My god - what a vision!  And talk about execution - Lev rocks!
So when I heard that Google had announced their “Fiber for Communities”, I could hear Lev taking off in his rocket to the moon, beaming a big smile - knowing that his five+ years of efforts to build connected communities was paying off and that the rest of the world was catching up to Cleveland and CWRU!
It is pure kismet that brought me here - to meet George Nemeth - who introduced me to Lev Gonick - who asked me to teach at CWRU - who then said “Hey Marc - maybe your course next semester could be to provide the software user experiences to the residents of Hessler St.?”
Lev thought that our class could study the entire process of:
- designing an architecture
- identifying key experiences, content and services - which would be provided to the residents
- building out the infrastructure:
-from a switch in a building running bundles of glass
- out through the walls (in bundles) and spread out onto telephone polls
- which then spins the glass out over telephone polls
- down the side of a building
- and through holes in the walls spreading throughout the building
- to spigots coming out of walls
- which then get pluged into a special set top box which takes 1G in
- and outputs TV, Phone and Internet out.
- now that customer has to register, get “provisioned”
- and sign on for their software in-machine experiences
- meanwhile we’ve setup our bureaus for ads, admin, moderation and editorial content
- and empowered the residents to express themselves, interact and browse
- and we’re training our students in how to moderate, admin, community liaison and operatethis environment
- and we link in a social network which features:
- blogging
- groups, personal pages, messages
- Facebook Connect and Import
- media storage and sharing
- which also provides a splash page and wrapper to:
- health oriented apps and services (personal health records, hospice device monitoring)
- energy monitoring and ‘green experiences’ (carbon footprint tracking…)
- public safety cams (”crowdsourced camera monitoring?”)
- STEM (student blogging, social networking, web site creation)
- and a personalized relevant local news channel
- and relevant local content (the Cleveland History Channel, History of Hessler St.)
So now you know what I’m doing and why I moved here. Its because of Lev Gonick and his “shot at the moon”.
Its all about drilling into the details of what it takes to build a digital city.  One pixel at a time.
Look forward to something called the iDEA Institute and a series of events - which will give you ALL a reason to come visit us here in Cleveland.
Maybe even move here!
Like I did.


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