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Virginia Releases Smart Cities Report

Virginia’s Smart Communities Working Group (VASC) has released the findings of its latest study of smart cities programs. VASC launched the study in response to an executive order from Governor McAuliffe asking for recommendations to help Virginia become a leader in smart communities.

“Ultimately, our goal is to develop a replicable model to enable us to create these smart communities across the Commonwealth,” Governor McAuliffe said in a statement. “We will improve Virginian’s quality of life by using the latest technologies to improve the efficiency of services and expand our ability to meet every Virginian’s needs.”

The working group, which is being managed by the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) and the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF), also includes representatives from a variety of Virginia and Federal communities and entities, including the Virginia Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Secretary of Health and Human Resources, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and other private and non-profit sector organizations.

The group was divided into Committees that align with the NIST Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC) SuperClusters, initially focusing on six specific areas and issues:

-City Platform/Dashboard & Data Governance,
-Energy, Water, and Waste Management
-Healthcare
-Public Safety
-Public Wireless/Broadband
-Transportation

Initial findings include a recommendation from VASC for Virginia to create a funded, independent entity and cross-agency coordinating body for the Virginia Smart Communities effort. According to the report, creating a centralized agency for the Commonwealth will help to ensure consistency and interoperability across municipalities. In addition to an agency, the working group has called on Virginia to identify and provide funding for the Commonwealth, especially for smaller cities that may not have budget resources in place to spend on new technology and network infrastructure.

The findings also highlight a need for state officials to support broadband expansion across the Commonwealth and to help provide support for cybersecurity training and technology. As CivSource has previously reported, trust in the security of the Internet of Things, which powers many smart city initiatives is dwindling. Few security officials feel that they have full visibility into their networks. In his leadership role at the National Governors Association, Governor McAuliffe made cybersecurity a key focus area for the NGA. The findings in this report underline the need for broad and deep cybersecurity infrastructure across all levels of government in Virginia.

VASC’s support for statewide standardization also falls in line with growing support from smart cities advocates for a national smart cities framework. At a minimum, interoperability across municipal networks within the same state will help to increase resiliency and ensure that critical services are consistent throughout Virginia.

The full text of the VASC report is available here.