Case Western Reserve University, Cuyahoga County to collaborate in White House “Smart Cities” initiative
CWRU researchers, county to address sustainability, cybersecurity and other regional issues as part of new national MetroLab Network of civic leaders and universities
CLEVELAND—Cuyahoga County and Case Western Reserve University will team up to analyze and tackle some of the region’s pressing concerns as part of a new national network of civic-university partnerships the White House launched Monday (Sept. 14) as part of the administration’s “Smart Cities” initiative.
Called MetroLab Network, its goal is to use advances in science and technology to collaborate on solutions to such community challenges as traffic congestion, crime, job creation and public service improvements.
The MetroLab Network will bring together university researchers with government decision-makers to explore, develop and apply technology and analytics to address problems facing the systems and infrastructure on which regional economies depend—solutions that they then can be shared across the Network.
As one of the founding regions of the initiative, Cuyahoga County and Case Western Reserve have identified the following opportunities to collaborate as part of the MetroLab Network:
Sustainability analysis and community website
A multi-level project of research, action and community outreach and education, the effort will include gathering and analyzing environmental and energy-use data and developing efficiency recommendations to create an online tool that educates and encourages residents to reach sustainability goals.
More specifically, Case Western Reserve researchers will use a data-analysis engine patented at CWRU to assess energy use at county buildings—including housing authority buildings—based on smart-meter data. The analysis will identify efficiency issues and retrofits or others solutions to minimize energy waste.
The county and university will establish sustainability and environmental goals and metrics—such as carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by sector (transportation, manufacturing, etc.), combined sewer overflows, renewable energy generation costs and outputs across the county’s 59 communities. This data will be made available on a public website to educate and engage citizens about the best choices for their health, neighborhoods and household finances.
“Our Cuyahoga County IT department has some great ideas about using data and technology for a more livable community,” said Mike Foley, the county’s sustainability director. “We have some real environmental issues, such as CO2 emissions, water and stream quality, recycling rates and transportation patterns, which we want assistance in measuring and reporting in understandable ways to the public. We think this partnership with the White House, CWRU, Cuyahoga County and other communities and research institutions across the country will be wonderful for our region.”
Geographic Information System (GIS) regionalization
The county has invested in a regional GIS platform to serve constituents and local governments. The county has also established partnerships with local governments, such as the Cleveland Metroparks, which has been piloting unmanned drones to update its GIS park data. The county and Case Western Reserve will partner on this regional effort to gather and share comprehensive GIS data throughout the communities.
Cybersecurity for county databases
University researchers will work with county information technology (IT) directors to develop systems and tools to ensure county data security and protect from data breaches. This work will analyze weaknesses and metadata and monitor systems to predict and prevent outsider access.
“The unique collaboration between the county and Case School of Engineering, the Great Lakes Energy Institute, the Sustainability Alliance, the Strategic Innovation Lab and the other schools/colleges throughout Case Western Reserve University allows us to not only be a great neighbor and partner, but address together some of the most important challenges the region will face in the near future,” said Jeffrey Duerk, PhD, dean of the engineering school. “Energy efficiency, cybersecurity of our infrastructure systems and improved services by collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data provide opportunities for us to understand how the county and region can improve services.”