Fairfax, VA – March 27, 2018 – Fairfax County, Virginia – a smart cities leader and a 2018 Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge finalist, recently partnered with the Smart Cities Council to host a Readiness Workshop to tackle key challenges using smart technology and processes. The workshop focused on identifying steps the county can take to improve mobility, optimize its street infrastructure and reduce obesity.
“Fairfax County was so pleased to host the Smart Cities Readiness Workshop,” said Fairfax County Chairman Sharon Bulova. “We are excited about opportunities to further harness technology to improve health, increase connectivity and assure an awesome quality of life for our residents.”
During the workshop, over 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.
“We want to be on the forefront of developing smart communities,” Jackson said. “The world is moving forward. Internationally, there are smart communities. We want Virginia to be that beacon in the continental U.S.”
Workshop participants – including city and county officials, department heads, technology innovators and community stakeholder groups – focused on how to use innovations to improve the well-being of all residents, regardless of their neighborhood or situation. Participants split into three working groups and focused on the following three initiatives:
Like virtually every metropolitan area, Fairfax County would like to make it easier for people to get to where they need to go more efficiently. The Washington, D.C., 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 fiber 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.
The health outcomes working group placed a priority on early intervention — helping children adopt healthy habits from the start — using data to direct efforts. It suggested the county create a data governance group and a data sharing policy with the explicit goal of improving youth health. In addition to getting all organizations that may hold helpful data to collaborate, the group emphasized the need for data policies that protect how the information is used and communicate to the public how it could help save and improve lives.
“Fairfax County demonstrated strong leadership to engage the community, bringing so many stakeholders together for a day of action,” said Jennifer James, Global Readiness Program 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.”
About the Smart Cities Council
The Smart Cities Council envisions a world where digital technology and intelligent design are harnessed to create smart, sustainable cities with high-quality living and high-quality jobs. A leader in smart cities education, the Council is comprised of more than 120 partners and advisors who have generated $2.7 trillion in annual revenue and contributed to more than 11,000 smart cities projects.