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Cleveland's WiFi movement

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Cleveland: The Next Wired City

Cleveland isn't usually thought of as a hotbed of technology innovation. But Lev Gonick, CIO of Case Western Reserve University, saw the potential for a cutting-edge tech community before he took his job two years ago. In fact, it was one of the things that persuaded him to take the job.

Before moving from Monterey, Calif., Gonick spoke with the leaders of several cultural, governmental, and business organizations in Cleveland. "My due diligence was that there was an amazing number of institutions interested and poised ... to use technology to drive their agendas," he says.

That was important to Gonick, who is something of an Internet pioneer and a firm believer in the transformative effect of technology. Gonick is a prime mover behind OneCleveland, a project that seeks to unite the city's major institutions--the art museums, the school system, the government, and the health-care community--around a high-speed, broadband network. That network will exploit not only the university's wide area networking capability but the miles of fiber-optic cable buried in the ground around Cleveland during the tech frenzy of the 1990s and never used. "This is the small windfall that occurred because of the dot-com fallout," Gonick says.

The OneCleveland project was launched as a nonprofit organization last September, with seven core members, including Case Western Reserve, the city of Cleveland, the Cleveland Municipal School District, and the local public radio station. It has friends in the local business community and has signed up the support (read: discounts on products and services) of some major tech vendors, such as Cisco Systems, Dell, and EMC. By the end of March, Gonick says, OneCleveland expects to extend the community to 35 institutions, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Cleveland Clinic. By the end of September, it expects to have 104 institutions signed on, including all the high schools, art museums, and community colleges in the greater Cleveland area.

OneCleveland also takes advantage of the university's wireless networking capabilities. OneCleveland has more than 1,400 Wi-Fi hotspots, providing "what generally has been described as the largest wireless cloud in the nation," Gonick says.

Gonick's academic roots are far from technology. He holds a doctorate in political science from York University in Toronto. But while teaching political science in Arizona in the early 1990s, Gonick put together one of the first online curricula. Prior to moving to Case Western Reserve, Gonick was the chief technology officer of the California State University at Monterey Bay.

OneCleveland is "a very cool technology story," Gonick says. "On the other hand, the most exciting part will be the application development" that uses the networking capabilities, such as E-learning courses for homebound students or wireless heart monitors. "The cool applications," says Gonick, "that will be next year's target."

-- John Soat

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very informative, where is this article from?

Pittsburgh has had a few attempts at city-wide WI-FI I am glad to see the rustbelt towns step up to the plate on this issue big time, hate to see Cleveland get there first but if it means that Pittsburgh leaders have some more pressure on them to innovate faster (they are doing an ok job overall) all the more luck to the 'stake by the lake ;)

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