Newport News Furthers Smart City Initiatives with Readiness Workshop

The City of Newport News, Virginia hosted a Smart Cities Readiness Workshop on February 1, 2018 with a goal to work with internal and external partners to encourage innovative projects within the City of Newport News and the region. The workshop was led by the City IT Department, with the Smart Cities Council and corporate sponsors, which awarded the city a Readiness Challenge Grant to help it advance its smart cities vision.

More than 125 people participated in the workshop, including Virginia State Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson, Newport News Mayor McKinley Price, City Manager Cindy Rohlf and Director of IT Andy Stein, as well as city officials, city and county department heads, technology innovators, local business leaders, regional agency leaders, university representatives and community stakeholders.

Several key areas were explored in open work sessions, including open data, utilities, public safety, emergency management, transportation and public/private partnerships.

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Emergency Management

Experts recognized the region for successful implementation of StormSense. This groundbreaking software helps predict localized flooding based on rising sea levels. The software uses sensors, historical information and big data analytics to offer prioritization of fastest and most impacted areas.

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The break-out session focused on the root causes of the city’s congestion issue—a problem that session participants report has negatively impacted retail sales and economic development in the city’s core, and has slowed the police and fire response during certain times of the day. Participants agreed the congestion largely stems from the work schedule of one very large employer and that it is not feasible to stagger shift times. The city’s road infrastructure is also essentially built-out, constrained by geography.

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Public-Private Partnerships

The group discussed successful P3 deployments including the how and why to effectively solicit private capital interest in smart city technology, successful financing models, grant availability, collaboration and attendant economic development. The group also discussed successful project paradigms, financial models, services provided and the value to the citizenry and industry in improving quality of life and making work, travel and leisure more efficient and available.

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Smart Utilities

This session took on the theme of transforming urban infrastructure by discussing greater opportunities for citizen engagement and improved understanding of trends across different areas of the system. Participants also highlighted opportunities for conservation and capture, especially in the water area.

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Open Data

The breakout session focused on how organizations can share and work with open data, emphasizing the need for interoperability, innovation and collaboration. People are looking for more ways to liberate data so they can meet expectations for transparency and achieve greater insights with the vast amounts of information we collect and manage in our City every day.

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Public Safety

Approximately 45 people attended the Public Safety Breakout session. Focus centered on topics previously identified in the Smart City Initiative Feasibility Study Final Report, dated July 2016. Topics included discussion on: Aggregated Video, Next Gen911, Opioids, PulsePoint, Building and Infrastructure incident response and a new area of concern, Traffic & Congestion Management. From a public safety perspective there were several NNFD, Chief level officers. A senior planning manager represented the Newport News Police Department. Various participants from public and private stakeholders offered solutions ideas.

Gannett Fleming
Smart Cities Council

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