Illustrative image of constellations connecting graphics of cell phones, computers and wireless internet service

Case Western Reserve University launched the Institute for Smart, Secure and Connected Systems (ISSACS) in the spring of 2016 with a focus on activities on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). ISSACS seeks to catalyze efforts in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio and seize the $6.2 trillion economic opportunity of the IIoT.

IIoT refers to sensors and actuators embedded in physical objects—from roadways to pacemakers—that are linked through wired and wireless networks, often using the same Internet Protocol (IP) that connects the Internet (“The Internet of Things,” McKinsey Quarterly. March 2010). These networks produce huge volumes of data—in quantities previously unimaginable—that flow through wired/wireless networks to computers for analysis. When objects can both sense the environment and communicate, McKinsey explains, they become tools for understanding complexity and responding to it swiftly. “What’s revolutionary in all this is that these physical information systems are now beginning to be deployed, and some of them even work largely without human intervention.”

$6.2 trillion economic opportunity of the IIoT

McKinsey predicts the range of global economic impact in IoT Devices and Services—trillions of dollars—to surpass 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, and advanced robotics from 2013 to 2025.

To meet the challenges and opportunities of IIoT, ISSACs is organized as a technology core of key laboratories and four vertical themes. The core laboratories address both the foundational and translation aspects of IIoT. These include sensing, embedded systems, communications and networks, cyber-security, data management, data analytics, visualization and signal processing, control and decision-making across applications. These tools span manufacturing, infrastructure, hospitals, homes, and virtually every other area where products and services are produced and delivered. The four thematic verticals are Manufacturing, Healthcare, Energy and Infrastructure—with a focus on Smart Cities and Communities.

At its heart, ISSACS is a manifestation of what Case Western Reserve and Cleveland do best: develop and apply fundamental science and engineering to societal problems through an interdisciplinary, collaborative lens.

While other regions and universities are building tech-only approaches (e.g., data science, cybersecurity), our winning play is about tech-PLUS to help ensure that our communities can adjust to the new IoT realities, that our companies develop new business models to realize the potential of IoT, and that our citizens welcome the new technological world into their companies and homes and lives without fear. As a result, ISSACS is a multi-disciplinary, broadly-reaching and integrated effort that spans several institutions and partners. At its heart, ISSACS is a manifestation of what Case Western Reserve and Cleveland do best: develop and apply fundamental science and engineering to societal problems through an interdisciplinary, collaborative lens. ISSACS is building the infrastructure necessary to support new laboratories, new faculty, and personnel to support interdisciplinary faculty research and education teams. The technological strength of ISSACS (foundational core) will be integrated with experts from business, law, medicine, nursing, social sciences, and other disciplines.

The Cleveland Foundation is partnering to launch ISSACS with the goal of catapulting Case Western Reserve and the region into one of the leading cities in capturing the IIoT marketplace. This region will be a “go-to” area for new research, new start-ups, and new investments in IIoT. Our partnerships with many regional leaders, including Cleveland State University, are leading to long-term investment from local and national investors.

ISSACS is administered out of the Case Western Reserve Vice President of Research's Office, with a faculty leadership team that represents the fundamental labs and key faculty from across the university representing the vertical IIoT applications for the growth/renewal of manufacturing, city infrastructure, energy, and the medical/health care field. This effort is wide-reaching and complex, but our combined strengths are uniquely positioned to define he innovation and future of the Industrial Internet of Things.