Case Western Reserve University broadband initiative highlighted at White House announcement

Case Western Reserve University’s efforts to provide high-speed Internet access to residents near campus won White House recognition and a $300,000 federal grant today.

The news came as President Obama signed an Executive Order to make broadband construction involving federal property—including roadways and buildings—90 percent less expensive. The president also announced US Ignite, a partnership to promote new applications that use broadband connectivity in health care, education and other fields. Case Western Reserve is one of 60 research universities involved in the coalition, which also includes government agencies and businesses, among other organizations.

“CWRU is the acknowledged leader around the country in the innovative use of advanced technology that advances both research and the community’s priorities on topics such as health and wellness, science education, neighborhood safety and energy management,” said Lev Gonick, vice president for Information Technology Services and chief information officer.

Two years ago the university led the launch of the Case Connection Zone, an initiative that connected just more than 100 residents near campus to ultra-high speed broadband via Gigabit fiber.

(Watch a video about the Case Western Reserve initiative below.)

The Case Connection Zone involved collaboration and support from companies such as Cisco, IBM, Genexis and OneCommunity. The nonprofit OneCommunity, which Case Western Reserve helped launch in 2003, has built an all-fiber network to 2,300 community anchor institutions such as hospitals, schools, libraries and government offices. This open network, funded in part by a federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant in 2010, serves as an ideal test environment for researchers, technology companies and entrepreneurs.

Using the broadband connections, patients and doctors can discuss their conditions via videoconference, homeowners can monitor energy use in real time, surgical residents can devise strategies and practice techniques using patient-specific data before operating, high-definition video cameras help keep neighborhoods safer and more.