Fairfax County was recently selected as a finalist for the SmartCities 2018 Readiness Challenge Grant.
Cool! But what does that mean?
We join nine other governments, including the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the national competition for five grants awarded by the SmartCities Council. The grant will provide technical assistance, mentoring and services to help cities, counties and states use technology to become more livable, workable and sustainable.
- Streetlights that also act like Fitbits, collecting and reporting data on air quality, parking spaces or pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
- Bus stops that offer updates on bus locations, USB charging stations and free Wi-Fi.
These aren’t future technologies – they’re things that smart cities like Barcelona, London and Oslo are using today.
Smart cities deploy intelligent technology like sensors to collect data, communicate it back and analyze it. This data can provide real-time intelligence about what’s happening, such as traffic conditions. The information can be used to make changes in real time or provide predictive analytics.
While grant winners aren’t expected be announced until sometime in March, we’re moving forward with our vision to use data, technology and analytics to improve services and quality of life for our residents.
In partnership with the council, on March 19 we are bringing together experts and staff from county agencies, utilities, regional transportation agencies, universities and nonprofits to begin drawing a conceptual roadmap to becoming a smart county.
County leaders are working to develop an overall roadmap that will guide our future efforts. We’ve already been working on individual pilots and projects to leverage data and technology.
To help address traffic congestion, for example, we held a transportation hackathon using VDOT’s new data portal to come up with innovative technologies to improve traffic, mobility and safety. We also convened top autonomous vehicle experts, researchers and entrepreneurs to look at the future of this technology that’s being tested in Fairfax County today.
We’re also exploring how to deploy smart streetlights in our more urban areas like Tysons. These future light fixtures could be more energy-efficient LEDs that include sensors or offer free WiFi.
On a larger scale, we envision creating an innovation district that would bring together many different kinds smart technologies into one location, like autonomous shuttles, smart street lights, intelligent traffic signals to help motorists and pedestrians, and smart buildings that cut energy consumption.