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Fairfax County to become a beacon of smartness

Forner Virginia secretary for technology urged attendees to think of Fairfax County as a potential showcase for the rest of the country

The smart future for the community that participants of the workshop want to build
The smart future for the community that participants of the workshop want to build

Fairfax County, Virginia, has partnered with the Smart Cities Council to host a readiness workshop to tackle key challenges using smart technology and processes as it bids to become a “smart community beacon” for the US.


The workshop focused on identifying steps the county can take to improve mobility, optimise its street infrastructure and reduce obesity.


“We are excited about opportunities to further harness technology to improve health, increase connectivity and assure an awesome quality of life for our residents,” said Sharon Bulova,” chairman, Fairfax County.


“We want to be on the forefront of developing smart communities. The world is moving forward. Internationally, there are smart communities. We want Virginia to be that beacon in the continental US.”


During the workshop, more than 200 participants learned about smart cities principles and best practices, and explored case studies of projects that are delivering results elsewhere. They also heard from experts including former Virginia secretary of technology Karen Jackson, who urged attendees to think of Fairfax County as a potential showcase for the rest of the country.


Workshop participants –including city and county officials, department heads, technology innovators and community stakeholder groups – focused on how to use innovations to improve the wellbeing of all residents, regardless of their neighbourhood or situation. Participants split into three working groups and focused on the following three initiatives:

  • Improving mobility: like most metropolitan areas, Fairfax County would like to make it easier for people to get to where they need to go more efficiently. The Washington DC area ranks as one of the most congested in the world. Data can help create more effective strategies to improve mobility for commuters, offering insight into their commuting patterns and transportation choices. The mobility breakout group also encouraged the county look at potential partnerships to streamline mobility options in a region where one commuter, for example, may need to use three different parking apps
  • Smarter street infrastructure: it’s much less expensive to fix issues before they are issues, and Fairfax County is looking to smarten its street infrastructure, in part, to identify problems well before they become problems. In the short term, the group suggested the county look at its own fibre networks, buildings and other assets to make streets smarter and safer. Longer term, they suggested the county forge partnerships with utilities and the private sector to make more substantial progress faster
  • Promoting healthy living: nationwide, obesity is responsible for as many as 400,000 deaths per year. While Fairfax County does better than average in measures of the percentage of residents who are overweight, it wants to help its residents become even healthier.

“Fairfax County demonstrated strong leadership to engage the community, bringing so many stakeholders together for a day of action,” added Jennifer James, global readiness programme director for the Smart Cities Council. “We look forward to seeing how this valuable work transforms into meaningful results for all of the county’s residents.”


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