Board of Supervisors - Hunter Mill District

Fairfax County, Virginia

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Walter L. Alcorn,
Hunter Mill District Supervisor

Feb. 11, 2020 Board Matter: Exploring Benefits of Emerging Technologies

Mr. Chairman, with the continued acceleration of technology advancement many counties and other local governments across the country are pursuing “smart community” strategies to make government service delivery more efficient and improve quality of life for residents.

One example of our leadership in this area has been in the development and application of GIS (geographic information system) technologies. This investment has enabled more efficient delivery of County services that include a geographic component, which affects nearly every service provided by Fairfax County government. Fairfax County’s GIS has also made data collected and maintained by the County into useful information for County residents through My Neighborhood.

This is a good example of a smart community initiative building upon county investments in new technology. However, these days the pace of technology advancement has accelerated in the consumer sector.

Beyond our internal investments in GIS, other examples of our leadership in advancing technology include these initiatives championed through our Economic Advisory Commission (EAC):

  • Our pilot with Dominion Energy is the first state-funded connected autonomous vehicle (CAV) public transportation demonstration in Virginia.
  • Testing of driverless cars, by public and private entities, on our more than 70 miles of “connected corridors” in the county.
  • The county’s state-funded efforts to attract and retain workers for high-demand IT positions, including cybersecurity.
  • Our partnership with Smart City Works and Refraction utilizing their $750,000 federal grant to increase regional capacity to bring technologies to market and grow innovative companies.

To implement these EAC activities we can also do more to promote innovative and equitable technology in Fairfax County. The Board’s IT Committee, which I now chair, provides an excellent opportunity for board members to explore how we can use technology more efficiently and ensure that our residents also benefit from new technology.

In concert with the efforts by the county’s EAC and Economic Development Authority (EDA) to encourage emerging technology companies, it is also important that we look to bring the benefits of safe and consumer-friendly emerging technologies to our residents as consumers. And we should do so with an equity lens in mind so that residents who are in most need of the efficiencies and cost reductions often associated with these innovations actually receive the benefits.

With that in mind Mr. Chairman, I would move that the County Executive conduct the following tasks and report back to the IT Committee on the following tasks consistent with an IT-driven Smart Communities Strategy:

  • Identify significant local and state regulatory impediments for the application and/or expansion of promising emerging technologies such as the self-driving vehicle system pilots noted above, last mile delivery systems, blockchain technology applications and innovative cybersecurity approaches for the benefit of our residents.
  • Using the results of the above research, identify possible state statutory and policy changes for consideration in next year’s legislative package to allow for one or more areas within Fairfax County to be more testbeds for safe and consumer-friendly emerging technologies.
  • Explore creation of a formal process for facilitating partnerships between federal departments/agencies and product-focused emerging technology companies that can benefit Fairfax County residents. While this may include more traditional government grants or contracting, partnerships between the feds and companies focused on making and selling a product are of greater interest. The focus should be on federal programs in the region whose mission includes the development of regulations and other institutional support systems relating to emerging technologies, and who would benefit from local partnerships that companies explore and demonstrate the commercial viability of emerging technologies.

I would so move. 

 

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