TWC Magazine Explores How Fiber Framework in Arlington County Creates New Opportunities
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TWC Magazine Explores How Fiber Framework in Arlington County Creates New Opportunities

The Western Connect Magazine - TWC Magazine Explores How Fiber Framework in Arlington County Creates New Opportunities

Western Connect investigates the role of Arlington County’s tech investments in supporting residents and businesses, including Amazon’s HQ2.

TWC – In the vibrant region of Arlington County, Virginia, a robust fibre network has been strategically deployed to connect government facilities and schools and pave the way for groundbreaking developments in the National Landing District. This district, encompassing three neighbourhoods, is set to become home to remarkable properties such as Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus and Amazon’s highly anticipated HQ2 second headquarters.

The visionary Arlington County Board, in 2021, approved a groundbreaking proposal from developer JBG SMITH. As the owner of 6.8 million square feet of office space, over 4,000 multifamily housing units, and an additional 6.5 million square feet of density in National Landing, JBG SMITH secured conduit access and some of the county’s dark fibre. Notably, the company is serving as the developer, property manager, and retail leasing agent for the Metropolitan Park complex, spanning 2.1 million square feet, which marks the first phase of Amazon’s East Coast expansion, expected to be completed this summer.

JBG SMITH aims to provide a comprehensive digital infrastructure, including edge data centres and Federal Communications Commission-licensed private Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum access, positioning the National Landing district as an ideal hub for companies to deploy cutting-edge technologies like augmented and virtual reality. Vardahn Chaudhry, JBG SMITH’s Vice President of Investments for Digital Infrastructure, highlights the district’s unique converged digital infrastructure assets, emphasizing their role as the new last mile for telecom and cloud networks. The first edge data centre, occupying approximately 7,500 square feet in an existing office building, will offer diverse computing capabilities, explicitly catering to low-latency applications.

Arlington County has also demonstrated its commitment to innovative infrastructure by considering the installation of network nodes on streetlights. According to David Ihrie, CTO and Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation, streetlights can be valuable assets in innovative technology implementations, particularly in densely populated areas like Arlington. However, ownership complexities have hindered progress in many urbanized regions. Arlington County manages around 40 per cent of its 18,000 streetlights, while Dominion Energy oversees the remainder. Since 2018, the county has been transitioning to dimmable streetlights with cellular node connectivity, utilizing radio frequency mesh networking technology.

This forward-thinking approach offers numerous advantages, such as implementing dimming programs that adjust lighting levels and energy consumption in different areas. For example, during the long winter nights, when up to 12 hours of darkness prevail, the county’s dimming strategy saves a substantial amount of kilowatt-hours by reducing the lights to 25 per cent brightness. Nicholas, an official from Arlington County, highlights how this technological advancement has facilitated efficient snow removal operations. By integrating GPS tracking equipment into its fleet of snowploughs, the county can provide real-time updates to citizens regarding snow removal progress, enhancing safety and convenience during extreme weather conditions.

Furthermore, Arlington County officials are exploring additional technology implementations to enhance mobility and other vital aspects. A recent pilot program involving pavement-level sensors deployed in commercial corridors aims to revolutionize parking management. This innovative solution promises to optimize parking availability and facilitate smoother traffic flow, ultimately improving the overall urban experience for residents and visitors alike.

As Arlington County continues to invest in cutting-edge infrastructure and forge strategic partnerships with visionary developers like JBG SMITH, it sets an exemplary model for other communities looking to embrace the transformative power of digital technology. The county’s fibre framework and tech initiatives support local businesses and residents and attract industry giants like Amazon, bolstering economic growth and creating a brighter future for Arlington County and its constituents.

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