Fairfax County, Virginia seeks to develop a smart cities strategy to make Fairfax County livable, workable and sustainable. It is a Finalist in the 2018 Readiness Challenge Grant and because of scheduling has requested a Readiness Workshop while it is still interviewing to determine whether it will be a winner. The Readiness Workshop shall focus on (i) county-wide information sharing projects, (ii) integration of disparate health data across 70 distinct information systems and (iii) transportation (mobility options during congestion, smart street lights, an autonomous vehicle pilot.)
The audience will consist of Fairfax County elected, operational and IT leaders along with representatives from Fairfax County real estate sector, nonprofits, universities and start-ups. The smart cities sector shall be represented by Smart Cities Council partners, many whom have offices in Fairfax County.
Information that will form the basis for the Readiness Workshop (from its Readiness Challege Grant application):
- The Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan includes land use policies and guidance that encourage the incorporation of sustainability into the built environment of the community. Developers commit to obtain building certifications from established green building rating systems such as LEED. During the last fiscal year, 47 development applications have ben approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors with commitments to achieve various levels of green building certification.
- The county invested $7.17 million in FY2018 in technology projects. The County’s technology improvement strategy has these key elements: redesign business processes, apply technology toward improving service delivery, and provide an adequate technology infrastructure that supports County technology solutions.
- There are many examples of the use of smart sensor technology in the county. Some examples from the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services include:
- Fairfax County owns and maintains over 5,000 miles of underground sewers. Through the use of CCTV inspections, maintenance tracking, asset data management and risk based analysis, we are trying to get smarter on how to maintain and manage these assets. We also own and operate a 40 million gallons per day wastewater treatment facility and 65 pump stations that utilize System Control and Data Acquisition systems which allow us to more closely monitor and operate these facilities more efficiently and effectively.
- Fairfax County continuously evaluates and upgrades its facilities to utilize the most energy efficient equipment. Further, we utilize smart technology to start-up, shut-down, and monitor equipment, and energy utilization to ensure we have the most efficient and cost effective energy use. Building automation systems control lighting, HVAC and electrical systems.
- Fairfax County’s Wastewater Treatment Plant has generator capacity to run the full plant. Through smart technology and agreements with the local power company, we are able to “island” the plant and go off-grid during high demand periods, reducing the strain on the grid at a better utility rate.
- Key Information Projects.
- County Wide Projects. Fairfax County has a number of major multi-agency initiatives sponsored throughout the organization. Over the next two to four years, our Department of Information Technology strategic focus will be on: Government/e-Government; Geographic Information Systems; Customer Relationship Management; Document Management; Technology Infrastructure Initiatives; Planning and Land Use System Modernization.
- Integrative Health and Human Services Model and Information Technology Project. Currently, there are over 70 information systems used to support the many programs and functions across the eight health and human services agencies, including approximately 20 distinct information systems used for client intake. Very few of these information systems are currently set up to exchange information, and many of the information sharing processes remain fragmented. All of this creates increased challenges for clients navigating the current collection of programs and services and for staff coordinating services within and across those programs. The County has been engaged in efforts over the last several years to develop a conceptual foundation and business model which tie together the work of various health, housing and human services agencies in efforts to achieve specific outcomes related to the health and well-being of the County’s clients and community. The Health and Human Services Integrative System (“Integrative System”) initiative has the ultimate goal of delivering person-centered services to County residents which enables a cross-sectoral exchange of process and data that better leverages resources and supports the County's overall goals for individuals and families to be safe, be healthy and realize their potential. Detail on all DIT strategic initiatives are included in our IT Plan: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dit/itplan/itplanfiles/fy18/fy2018itplansection2.pdf
- Street lights. Fairfax County is exploring a new approach to street lights in our urban centers. Currently, the power company, Dominion, owns and operates the street lights under a contractual relationship with Fairfax County. This arrangement limits the types of lighting, fixtures, and technology Fairfax can utilize. We are exploring different options that will allow us to move to LED fixtures with smart fixtures that self-dim, shutoff, and can notify when the bulb is out. We are also exploring future capabilities for adding technology to the polls for WiFi, cell, and other types of sensors, communication and security applications.
- AV/smart infrastructure pilot. A pilot in either a medical or university campus in conjunction with VDOT, local start ups, and universities.
- Congestion mobility. This issue requires more strategic planning at the Readiness Workshop because:
- Congestion in Metro-DC consistently ranks among the worst in the nation. Although there are ten Metro stations in the county, accessing the stations can be a challenge due to dispersed land use patterns. Finding creative ways to address this “last mile” problem is a challenge.
- Furthermore, travel patterns in the county are varied and multi-directional. It has been decades since Fairfax was a bedroom community for Washington, DC, and there are multiple employment centers in the county attracting workers from Fairfax and other jurisdictions. An evolving network of HOV/HOT lanes on the highway network has provided an opportunity for improved express bus service. For non-commuters, there are other challenges in providing mobility options, especially to seniors and those with disabilities. There is a lack of consistent transportation options during off peak hours. Across the human services transportation systems, there is fragmented service delivery, logistical challenges, and lack of integration across the different systems.
The County has strong smart city leadership - through the Office of the County Executive and the Economic Success Strategic Plan (ESSP) management team and a 12-person Smart Cities team from the departments listed below. Departments engaged include:
- The Office of the County Executive
- Multiple health and human services-related agencies
- Department of Information Technology
- Land Development Services
- Department of Planning and Zoning
- Department of Public Works and Environmental Services
- Department of Transportation
Background Information about Fairfax County
Fairfax County is the most populous jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia with a popluation of 1.142 million residents. Fairfax was the first U.S. county to reach a six-figure median household income and has the second-highest median household income of any local jurisdiction in the United States after neighbor Loudoun County.
The county is home to the headquarters of intelligence agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and National Reconnaissance Office, as well as the National Counterterrorism Centerand Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The county is also home to seven Fortune 500 companies, including three with Falls Church addresses; although Falls Church is its own independent municipality.
The county's economy is supported by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, which provides services and information to promote Fairfax County as a leading business and technology center. The FCEDA is the nation's largest non-state economic development authority. Fairfax County is also home to the Northern Virginia Technology Council, the largest tech trade association in the nation. Fairfax County has a higher concentration of high-tech workers than the Silicon Valley.
Fairfax County uses the urban county executive form of government. Under the urban county executive plan, the county is governed by the 10-member Fairfax County Board of Supervisors with the day-to-day running of the county tasked to the appointed Fairfax County Executive.