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CSU, CWRU Partner in New “Internet of Things” Collaborative

Supported with Cleveland Foundation planning grant as part of broad regional digital initiative

internet of things

Cleveland State University and Case Western Reserve University will partner in the development of a new regional academic collaboration to assess, promote and innovatively contribute to the “Internet of Things,” the vast interconnected network of devices, from cell phones to factory equipment, that now provides a treasure trove of data and information that can greatly improve numerous aspects of society. The initiative is made possible thanks to a planning grant from the Cleveland Foundation.

The $200,000, six-month grant is part of the Foundation’s broader digital economy strategy—called the Digital Excellence Initiative—to invest in efforts that create a more connected community, support digital skills development, improve digital civic engagement, elevate regional digital leadership and encourage technology innovation for social good.

“This new initiative reflects the foundation’s ongoing commitment to strengthen Greater Cleveland’s digital landscape, an area in which we can and must compete or we risk being left behind,” said Leon Wilson, the foundation’s chief of digital innovation and chief information officer.

With the foundation’s support, CSU and Case Western Reserve will jointly identify and develop academic and research solutions to challenges that impact connected devices, while also preparing a future workforce to move the region forward.

The grant will allow the universities to plan and build an operational foundation for this academic collaboration, focused mainly on economic development and partnership. The goal: to transform Northeast Ohio into a national model of collaboration, research, technology transfer, workforce development and community infrastructure in the emerging area of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

“With increasing reliance on social networking systems, the fundamental structures of human contact and communication have begun to include the physical infrastructure around us in ways previously never imagined. The vision for such an always-connected world includes an Internet of Things, which can provide society with a seamless, coherent, and unified interface to the world around us,” adds Nigamanth Sridhar, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at CSU. “This grant allows CSU and CWRU to work together in new and innovative ways to provide educational and research opportunities to our region.”

“This funding provides a focused opportunity for Case Western Reserve and CSU to develop an academic collaboration that includes education and research in the emerging field of IoT by capitalizing on our individual strengths, leveraging our complementary assets and identifying critical needs for the future,” said Kenneth Loparo, the Nord Professor and chair of CWRU’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

The grant will support a six-month planning effort to:

  • Develop a model of private-public higher education collaboration around education, research and training with an administrative structure that supports its implementation.
  • Conduct a feasibility study to test the model with an industry partner for validation, feedback and refinement.
  • Host a public IoT symposium to promote the regional economic impact and opportunities and seek additional support and feedback from stakeholders, including public sector, industry and other higher-educational institutions.

The IoT is the network of physical devices that contain embedded technology to communicate or interact over the internet, such as factory automation sensors, sensors for monitoring agricultural production, devices that can remotely transmit patient data to labs or doctors, and systems that monitor road and railway transportation, water distribution, electrical transmission and distribution and other infrastructure.

According to a report by Business Insider Intelligence, the economic potential for the IoT is enormous. The report estimates 24 billion IoT devices installed internationally by 2020, with $6 trillion invested in IoT solutions over the next five years as internet connectivity expands globally, mobile adoption increases, the use of low-cost sensors expands and greater investments are made in the IoT.