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October 01, 2005

OneCleveland - Two Years Later ... A week in review

Not that anyone is counting... but OneCleveland is two years old as an Ohio registered non-profit (Oct 2003-Oct 2005).

OneCleveland and our support for Intel's digital city designation for the City of Cleveland featured prominently in this past week's Mayoral monologues (aka the Mayoral Debate). While our future Mayors basically spoke from the pulpit of surplus powerlessness and the disintegration of the City's spirit, OneCleveland and Digital Cities was one of the few "building blocks" cited as the foundation for future positive development.

At the same time, this week, we learned how much further we have to go in making OneCleveland an inclusive, color-blind project. Beyond our personal commitments, briefings and discussion directly with the Call and Post and many other important leaders and voices in the "community" not to mention public pronouncements here and here and here and here and even here, we got a reminder that important voices in the community see OneCleveland as a force of the "elite" and anti-community. Although there are countless errors of fact in the editorial of last week's Cleveland-edition of the Call and Post, it is important that we support its broad dissemination. Here is the editorial in its entirety.

Technology priorities are out of whack The idea of community wide WiMax communications is an idea whose time has come, but any telecommunications advances made in Cleveland must be accomplished in a manner that works in the best interests of city residents, most of whom are minorities.

The city has chosen to subsidize WiMax and turn the entire community into one big "hot spot," not unlike the localized single locations WiFi.

While some see that as a good thing, the WiMax as envisioned by OneCleveland is reserved for institutions - mostly based in University Circle - that already have or should have very high-speed
broadband connections. It is hard to imagine major institutions like the Cleveland Clinic or University Hospital needing "free" broadband from an elitist group to meet their telecommunications needs. These
institu-tions already have a service provider. A second one - that the public must subsidize - is a waste and could toad to cherry picking, a function whereby the best paying customers are stolen as the result of unfair competition.

WiMax functions like a cross between cellular telephone service and broadband. It is maximized for data and can be a transport for VolP telephone service. It is also capital intensive because of equipment and maintenance costs.

WiMax and Internet connectivity are services that should be provided by vendors from private enterprise that have the financial and technical capacity to deliver dependable service that is not dependent on donations and grants.

Other than allowing OneCleveland to virtually lock this community into single source vendors, what service improvements will come from the city's $500,000 donation? Bragging rights aren't enough when
the people that live here are on the same financial level as those who were left behind as New Orleans flooded .

If Cleveland has a half million dollars to sink technology it should start by investing in technology that serves a majority of its citizens. You cannot pay your water or sewer bill, get an accident or police report, file a complaint, and apply and pay for licenses and permits over the Internet. You can access government functions from your computer in Toledo and Columbus, but in Cleveland you must appear in person at City Hall.

Want a better result from the $500,000 expenditure than helping OneCleveland expand into Summit County? Try helping to close the digital divide by buying new or used computers and subsidizing Internet access for the disenfranchised of our community. Most people
access the Internet from home, work or school - not,the library. Why can't our investment improve community access and technical literacy?

If Cleveland has money to invest in technology, it should have a broader reach than serving elitist interests.

Help those who need help instead of helping those who are able to help themselves.

Call & Post
Cleveland Edition
September 15, 2005 - September 21, 2005
Page A4, Editorial Page

Readers of this blog will probably know that to the best of my knowledge, OneCleveland has not yet embraced a comprehensive wireless strategy. Our current deployments of wireless have been made by our subscribers. Case, as one subscriber to OneCleveland has made free public wireless access a cornerstone of our community outreach. Those who live around Case whether they are minority or majority members of the community have free public wireless access.

Of course, OneCleveland has, in addition to its terrific collaboration with the Cuyahoga Public Library system, has also worked with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation to provide all of Cleveland's middle and high schools with free access to Cleveland's gigabit internet infrastructure.

Working with the County-Wide, Voice and Choices initiative, OneCleveland is building a portal and infrastructure to support community computing solutions with huge, upside value for not only access and broad access to computing capacity, but also in facilitation community discussions and debates.

Finally, to the best of my knowledge the City of Cleveland has not provided OneCleveland with $500,000. I do know that there was a grant approved by the City of Cleveland for $200,000 for supporting application development for public safety, building inspectors, and other city electronic services. While cities all over the nation celebrate multi-million dollar investments in building out next generation infrastructure and services, it has taken herculian efforts in our City to see the most modest of investments in building the future. If the community and its political leaders are going to lead and help us take control and responsibility for shaping our destiny (rather than cheap potshots from the sidelines) than we need to remind them that they and the "expert" incumbent telecommunications players if they are not part of the solution might well be part of the problem. Exactly how much broadband connectivity, smart economy jobs, high-tech jobs training, and community access support has the current "leadership" of the private sector and our community leadership provided over the past 20 years?

To underscore the chasm that still needs to be crossed between the two solitudes of the "real community" and the "business community", Dan Hanson has just published a very upbeat message in this month's (Oct 2005) issue of Inside Business. As an equal opportunity blogger, I'll also offer his insights below.

As we celebrate two years of the OneCleveland initiative, there are important challenges ahead. Our ability to address and embrace the mandate for inclusivity will be one important basis for assessing our progress over the next year.

Cleveland Rocks

Cleveland is leading the nationwide tech charge, thanks to a dedicated group of Northeast Ohioans.

Dan Hanson

Ladies and gentlemen, help me welcome Cleveland’s new international superstar. Give me an L! Give me an E! Give me a V...

What? You don’t spell LeBron with a V. But you do spell Lev with a V — as in Lev Gonick, CIO of Case Western Reserve University and chair of the OneCleveland Board. While nobody may refer to him as "King Gonick" yet, Lev has achieved superstar status in the technology world.

Whether speaking in numerous cities hoping to follow Cleveland’s lead (doesn’t that sound nice for a change?) or appearing in business and technology publications, Gonick has replaced Drew Carey as the face of Cleveland to an important part of the world.

Ever since he arrived in Cleveland from the University of California, Monterey in 2001, Gonick has created a buzz. He says the opportunity to work on major projects "reached a new level when [Case Western Reserve President] Ed Hundert came in." But the buzz goes beyond Case.

In a 2003 interview, Gonick told me, "If we succeed in all this great technology at Case and we don’t do anything in University Circle it will be a failure. It’s just an enormous opportunity to create synergies." OneCleveland is now extending the opportunity beyond the amazing acreage in University Circle to the city and soon to the region. Cleveland’s recent selection by Intel as one of three digital cities in the world (along with Taipei and Corpus Christi) can be credited to OneCleveland.

The "godfather" of OneCleveland, Gonick now serves as chairman of the board. He says OneCleveland is now under adult supervision with professional people such as President Scot Rourke and COO Mark Ansboury.

He downplays his success. Instead he speaks of "lots of opportunities to share" and that "It’s terrific, I trust, for Cleveland." Hard to argue with that when the mayor of Philadelphia refers to "keeping up with Cleveland" in a press conference about their much-hyped wireless initiative.

Everyone knows that LeBron James wears number 23. Because of Gonick and his crew, the world may soon associate Cleveland with a different number: one.

Lev gets it. So do Rourke and Ansboury. A lot of other people in town get it, but too many don’t. Their "poor Cleveland" attitudes prevent them from even imagining world-class applications coming from Cleveland. And even more wonder just what the heck "it" is.

Any list is going to intentionally (space limits) or unintentionally (brain cramp) exclude deserving people. Plus there are a lot of people who get it that I have never met or even heard of. But the following, in no particular order, are some of the people I have witnessed as getting it.

Mike DeAloia, tech czar of the city of Cleveland, understands that clustering a lot of tech companies together in the heart of the city has Fibonacci-like growth results as they generate a buzz and share resources. DeAloia says to "start buying stock in Cleveland, because it’s a growth stock."

Jim Cookinham, president of NEOSA, gets it. He was pushing the importance of tech in Cleveland before it was cool. He knows that almost every company is an IT company because they have workers that use and rely on tech for their business — and he has the numbers to prove it. He is no longer one of the lone voices espousing tech, but his voice still stands out.

Thomas Mulready gets it. As founder of CoolCleveland.com and co-director of the Ingenuity Festival of Art and Technology, Mulready didn’t discuss the ideas to death. He went out and did things. Apologizing later is better than endlessly seeking approval.

Cathy Panzica of Thompson Hine LLP gets it. When she returned to Cleveland after working in the U.K., Panzica was "amazed at how downtrodden people seemed." She borrowed an idea from her time in Britain — the Downing Street Dialogues — and duplicated them here as the Red Room Dialogues. These meetings bring business, media and civic leaders to the Red Room at City Hall for frank discussions and planning sessions.

Tim Connors and Dan McMullen of Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP get it. These lawyers understand how everyday business life is interwoven with tech — like intellectual property issues and securing customer data. And how managing and protecting digital and other rights (brands, trademarks, copyrights) is essential in the new economy.

Jaime Lebron of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield gets it. He knows that the world has changed and that to reach people he has to go where they are — like the Internet. His early adoption of Internet marketing has led to numerous recognitions.

Chris Coburn, director of The Cleveland Clinic Foundations Innovations, gets it. He knows that even world-class research needs to be turned into products (and hopefully companies) that will create jobs and wealth in the city.

Hyland Software gets it. Everyone knows about the cool culture at Hyland — the slide, the spinning wheel, the Silicon Valley perks. But they really get it in how they attract qualified talent — they create it. They have been able to take "average" Cleveland people and train them to a far-above-average level, without the need to recruit them from outside the region. Their walls are plastered with certifications, mostly earned by Clevelanders.

Fred Lisy and his crew at Orbital Research get it. They hire brilliant science geeks and turn them loose on exciting projects. All from an unassuming building just past East 40th on Euclid. Jason Therrien of thunder::tech can relate. He gets that you can have a cool tech company on Payne Avenue.

Mark Geyman, Roy Church, Steve Gage, Len Steinbach, Gary Baney, Candace Jones, Steve Owendoff, Dan Davenport, George Nemeth, Fred Johnson, Rob Steinberg, Leroy Brooks — they all get it. Big time.

Know what’s great? I could go on and on. Sorry to the many I missed or ran out of space to include. You and your peers know who you are. You get it, and the Cleveland business and tech community are glad you do. Keep "it" up.

Entreprenerd Dan Hanson expects to see kids wearing Gonick jerseys soon. Tell him who you think gets it at hanson@inside-business.com .

Posted by lsg8 at October 1, 2005 01:14 PM and tagged Bytes 

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