Newport News, Virginia, Hosts Smart City Readiness Workshop

February 09, 2018
newport news smart city readiness challenge
Image courtesy of Smart Cities Council

The City of Newport News, Virginia, recently hosted a Smart Cities Readiness Workshop to create a strategy to develop smart infrastructure to benefit the region. The workshop was delivered by the Smart Cities Council as part of its Readiness Program, which helps communities craft action plans to further innovation, inclusion and investment. 

“This workshop is about sharing ideas, concepts and solutions to take this region to new heights and I am excited about the possibilities,” said Newport News Mayor McKinley Price. “It will also help to solidify the Hampton Roads region as a hub for technology and innovation.”

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

Several key areas were explored, including open data, public-private partnerships, smart utilities, emergency management, transportation and public safety.

In particular, workshop participants explored initiatives such as:

  • Converting all of the city’s street lights to energy-efficient LEDs to have better access to usage trends as a tool to promote conservation.
  • Improving public safety by aggregating video from various sources and providing it to first responders as they arrive on the scene as well as using GIS tools to provide indoor maps of buildings to help guide responders to incidents faster.
  • Enabling access to open data to help citizens make better choices and providing free Wi-Fi to those who do not have access at home.

“The Readiness Program is all about helping cities craft a vision and action plan to deliver results for the entire community,” said Smart Cities Council Managing Director Philip Bane. “The Council will continue to work with Newport News to build upon this foundation to help the city become more livable, workable and sustainable.”

Gannett Fleming and Sensus, a Xylem brand, both sponsored the workshop. Each company has partnered with the Smart Cities Council to help communities make informed decisions when implementing smart technologies.

“Gannett Fleming has a more than 100-year-long track record of using our engineering and infrastructure expertise to improve the quality of life in the communities we serve,” said Jessica Hou, PE, BCEE, ENV SP, vice president of Gannett Fleming. “We look forward to partnering with Newport News – whose commitment was evident by the robust participation in this workshop – to address the unique challenges and opportunities that come with building a smart city.”

“At Sensus, our customers are on the front line of building smart cities,” said Vice President of Communications Solutions Marketing Randolph Wheatley of Sensus. “More than 2,000 communities have connected over 37 million smart devices for water, gas, electricity and lighting applications with the Sensus FlexNet® communication network.”

The City of Newport News was a finalist for Smart Cities Council’s 2017 Readiness Challenge Grants, which helped the winning cities of Austin, Indianapolis, Miami, Orlando and Philadelphia advance key initiatives such as improving transportation, developing smart growth plans and reducing racial inequality.

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