Virginia Partnership Cuts Ribbon on Smart City Testbed

The Virginia Smart Community Testbed in Stafford County will test emerging technologies in real-world settings. The project is a partnership between the county and the Center for Innovative Technology.

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A new testbed to explore Internet of Things (IoT) deployment using 5G communications and other technologies has launched in Virginia.

The Virginia Smart Community Testbed is a partnership between Stafford County and the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) to test emerging technologies in real-world settings. The project began in 2019 as a plan to “build a ‘smart’ community in Stafford,” according to a CIT press release. More than 15 commercial partners are also part of the partnership.

Virginia, and in particular Stafford County, is already a leader in technology in areas like unmanned aerial systems, said Shawn Talmadge, deputy secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, during a Tuesday ribbon cutting ceremony. The Smart Community Testbed can serve as the platform to grow not only drone technologies, but others like smart flood control, which includes a connected network of sensors.

“These sensors will improve our ability to make decisions, to better affect the public, and understand when best we need to implement a shelter, or evacuation, or to proactively close roads that are prone to flooding,” said Talmadge.

“Again, that partnership with innovative teams such as here in Stafford County is critical to improving public safety and improving our effectiveness and efficiency,” he added.

The Public Safety Innovation Center (PSIC), which is sponsored by the Center for Innovative Technology, “will ensure that a very productive innovation relationship will remain between technology innovation and our public safety first responders across the commonwealth,” said Talmadge.

The PSIC will be a virtual organization, “bringing together a wide set of existing resources, and of course, the Virginia Smart Community Testbed will serve as an important foundational element of that initiative,” Talmadge explained.

Stafford is envisioned as a place for innovation, and the Virginia Smart Community Testbed will help to introduce the kinds of technology to fulfill that vision, officials said.

The testbed will be the “foundation, and one of the greatest opportunities, not only for our community, but for the Commonwealth and our nation. And it started right here,” said U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, a Republican, representing Virginia’s 1st District.

“How do we use the technology that’s not only here today, but how do we use the technology five years from now, 10 years from now,” Wittman added, in his comments at the ribbon cutting. “It’s that vision that really allows communities to make the best of not just technology, but to make the best of economic opportunities.”
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Sacramento.
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