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October 07, 2005

From OneCleveland to AmAchad Net – A Contribution to the Future and Renewal of Cleveland’s Jewish Community

OneCleveland is Northeast Ohio’s regional community technology network platform for creativity and provocative application development. OneCleveland, which connects dozens of education, healthcare, government, and cultural institutions at unprecedented network speeds, has been recognized by Cisco Systems, the ComputerWorld Laureate program, and most recently by Intel Corporation as among the most innovative connected community projects anywhere in the world. Just this week, IBM's Global Services organization spent two days in Cleveland video taping OneCleveland leaders for a world-wide executive briefing session on community innovation and IBM's future strategic planning in the emerging digital cities space.

I am often asked, how can "my interest group" leverage OneCleveland to meet its strategic priorities. Elsewhere in this blog I have commented on everything from transportation and health care applications to inner city and education solutions that can leverage OneCleveland. Recently, Cleveland hosted a friend and colleague of mine, Jonathan Medved, from Israel Seed in Jerusalem. His visit was made possible by Case Western Reserve University, Thompson Hine, and Panzica Investments. Among many hours of conversation, we began exploring how faith communities, and in this case, Cleveland's Jewish Community could leverage OneCleveland to advance and help reinvigorate its mission. In the spirit of the Jewish New Years holiday season (5766), the extended entry below outlines a replicable and scalable strategy for faith communities, which I've titled AmAchadNet (OnePeopleNet)

In Cleveland, OneCleveland is more than just next generation transportation and application develop to help us provide better education, healthcare, and library services to the region’s population. OneCleveland is actually a key investment in a strategy for economic development for the region that may appear somewhat counter-intuitive. It is also at the core of why I believe the Jewish community should consider a leadership role in developing the next phase of OneCleveland. Almost all of Cleveland’s conventional wisdom for economic development is premised on how to attract people and investment to the region. I believe there are numerous realities that need to be confronted that together raise serious questions about the viability of this “import” strategy. OneCleveland takes a very different strategy which I believe is a strategy for the connected and networked economy of the future. OneCleveland believes that Cleveland’s core strengths is in “exporting” the virtuous elements of our core strengths and brand namely in healthcare, research, education, and cultural assets. This “export” strategy may mean that we need to embrace a “small is beautiful” view of our short and medium-term future and build our brand, our strategy for economic sustainability, and ultimately our future by taking our core strengths and leveraging the networked economy to take our Cleveland brands and build wealth and opportunities in innovative new ways. Over the longer haul this strategy may well be our best bet for rebuilding and growing our future.

We are already seeing ‘first to market’ strategies pointing in this direction. The e-Cleveland Clinic initiative under the leadership of Dr. Martin Harris takes the core competency and brand of the Cleveland Clinic and leverages the use of the network to deliver Cleveland Clinic health services to large corporations all across the country (and hopefully worldwide). Symbionix, the Israeli medical simulation center located in University Circle are now actively exploring how to develop new networked application for simulation technology in collaboration with Case’s Mt. Sinai Foundation Simulation Center project. The result will be a networked simulation curriculum and research platform that could change the world. CampusEAI, a new company attracted to Cleveland from New Jersey is delivering high-definition quality broadcast television over Internet 2 to university residential life environments all across the country from head-end equipment located at Case Western Reserve University and changing the way in which television services will be delivered in the 21st century.The Siegel College of Jewish Studies under the leadership of David Ariel is a world leader in distance learning for Jewish education growing its strategic plan not only by providing world-class master’s level education certification and adult education to Cleveland’s Jewish community but by “exporting” this core competency to communities across the land.

One of the other core competencies of the Cleveland Jewish community is its leadership in the organized Jewish world. Over the past decade, our own leaders have provided the Jewish world with vision, management and organizational skill at this critical moment in history. Why not look to create a networked strategy and help reinvent the meaning and future of the organized Jewish world. If not here in Cleveland, where? Enter the idea of a strategy to connect the Jewish world and build the foundations for a new generation of strategies for solidarity and renewal.

AmAchadNet (OnePeopleNet) will be informed by a mission to be a big, bold 21st-century Jewish community-oriented project that delivers advanced information technology capabilities to achieve community priorities for the well being, formal and informal education, organizational development, economic and business development, learning, job training, and research support for a united Jewish community.

Today, when we think of connecting with others, we think in terms of telecommunications based on voice transmission and computing based on isolated desktops PCs. The convergence of voice, data and video, the growth of communications bandwidth, and the low cost of access devices (fixed and mobile) are paving the way for a new inclusive model of connectivity. It's time now to look the impact and plan for leveraging the next-generation broadband on the Jewish community, both here in Cleveland but much much more importantly world-wide.

The Jewish community has not yet considered this essential new "utility" and it is my distinct impression that we do not understand how advanced broadband services will affect the future of organized Jewish life. In order to have a viable plan, we must understand where we are in the continuum of communication to ensure that the Jewish community remains socially inclusive and engaged.

I think there are at least 5 BIG buckets for early clustering consideration.

1) Organizing the organized Jewish world. I continue to be struck by how 19th century focused the organized Jewish world remains. I know that might seem harsh, but to this one person's view of the world, the organized Jewish world has yet to fully embrace not only the new communications environment (ie. internet-based video conferencing, blogging, podcasting, virtual conferencing...) but more importantly, it has not really found a way to touch the broader (and younger/emerging) community because the new generation is wired in a fundamentally different way than much of the organized Jewish world. AmAchadNet might well help to change the paradigm and support everything from the way executive meetings are held all the way to how committee work is conducted, solidarity campaigns are held etc...

2) Education and cultural exchange. Imagine a Live 8 concert focused on the Jewish world. A dozen Jewish communities around the world celebrating the songs, music, dance, drama, fashion, simultaneously around the world over the AmAchadNet. Imagine being able to create education content with a video on demand service to help Jewish educators develop everything from travel logs, to video pen pals, to education master teachers all connected together at ultra broadband speeds of the AmAchadNet. The key is that the services for education over AmAchadNet are not only inherently interactive but they can also happen in multiple (more than two) locations at once. The education and cultural value of AmAchadNet is enormous.

3) New Technology from Israel and the Jewish World. Amazing technology emerges on to the scene and it needs a sandbox for demonstrating its function, robustness, viability, efficacy, and relevance to the broader marketplace. AmAchadNet could support demonstration technologies for network services, computing services, identity management services (middleware), mobility services, edge routing technology, video and video on demand, cataloguing, mining, and virtual reality by seeding those services and products in the AmAchadNet. The result would both advance the value of AmAchadNet and provide the technology vendors an important, enterprise proof point for the viability and value of their products and services in the broader marketplace. I would also add, such a strategy would fundamentally alter the entire "hasbara" dynamic because this new amazing forward-looking space that would represent Israel and Jewish creativity and ingenuity presents a very very different reference point from the current painful and IMHO untenable position of the current Jewish community effort to "defend" itself and Israel.

4) Community Development and Peer to Peer Services. The success of the parntership2000 program has been based on careful and sustained set of person exchanges. The combination of leadership, community engagement, and realized value have made some partnership2000 type programs work. Whether it is exactly partnership 2000 or variations on that theme, there is a HUGE, largely unmined value to augmenting those face to face and human interactions with the creation and populating of virtual communities. One of the activities of the AmAchadNet would be the creation of a virtual world of Jewish communities around the world (following some reasonable methodology) for creating 3d fly throughs, virtual community centers, oral history repositories, interactive video for local Jewish tv broadcast or narrowcasts from remote communities, school to school and child to child, professional consultations (medicine, education, law...) among peers within the virtual Jewish community project of a partnership 2050 to bring the stories, exchanges, laughter, pain, and repository of learned experiences to this augmented online presence.


5) Online Museum of the Jewish World and other projects. There have been some absolutely amazing projects to digitize Jewish archives, museum artifacts, and other multimedia projects. Much of the world of Jewish museums are premised on the visitor's experience. Even new museums (like our own Maltz Museum here in Cleveland) are largely "disconnected from the Net". I think just one of many many projects would be a concentrated effort in a 21st century Museum of the Jewish World online which I imagine building on the strength of the existing digitzing projects but taking them to a whole new place. Imagine, for example, the power of some of the video at the American Holocaust Museum that was assembled 10 years ago in DC. These were designed as a largely passive two-dimensional experience for those sitting in front of computer screens. Imagine putting on a set of VR glasses and being able to "enter" the past and walk through Jewish history. Imagine being able to join some of the great Jewish musicians on stage during a performance at Carnegie Hall from your Jewish school or library or museum connected to AmAchadNet. Some of this relates to education, but much of it relates to making Jewish history come alive and to help transform people's experiences as they interact with their heritage.

Next Steps

Cleveland’s Jewish Community needs an integrated technology strategy that connects our valuable community assets to OneCleveland and through OneCleveland to the world. Building out AmAchadNet is building a foundational platform for the future of the Jewish world. It can happen here in Cleveland because… after all this is Cleveland. No apologies required.

Lev Gonick, Cleveland OH October 7, 2005

Posted by lsg8 at October 7, 2005 04:02 PM and tagged Bytes 

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