Living Lab Smart City

The County of Arlington, VA, uses smart city initiatives to focus on three areas of importance: crowd safety, public health, and public safety. Within a new Safety and Innovation Zone project, the County will deploy sensors powered by wireless mesh connectivity to count pedestrians and understand crowd flow. The County wants to learn how technology could help streamline public safety resources and enhance residents’ and visitors’ safety. 

Enhancing security and maintaining the privacy of residents is a joint responsibility. Arlington County, working with support from Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI), Comcast, and US Ignite, has formed a unique partnership to address both issues. The demonstration project named the “Safety and Innovation Zone” will be located within the 2900 block of Wilson Blvd.

In the Safety and Innovation Zone area, existing light poles will be outfitted with sensors that will sense and capture anonymized data.  Anonymized means that no personally identifiable information will be detected, sent, or stored. The sensors in the streetlights will be programmed to detect specific, preprogrammed events or data. The sensors will process the data within the network of the light fixtures and transform it into actionable information for use by the County and the public.  Data from the lighting solution includes only the information needed for the uses approved by the County: 

  • People counting  
  • Measuring occupancy
  • Environmental shifts, including temperature, relative humidity, air quality, noise levels)
  • Object counting (e.g., bicycles and parked vehicle counting)
  • Objects impacting crowd safety (e.g., parking impacting sidewalks)
  • Distress help movement and call  
  • Fall detection  

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The County is also setting up an independent data privacy panel for oversight. At the end of the 12-month project, the scaling phase will identify lessons learned to understand resident, business, and stakeholder impact and feedback. The evaluation of the communities’ needs will determine future project deployment and expansion. 

Learn more about the Safety and Innovation Zone Demonstration Project


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