A proving ground for smart city tech

A proving ground for smart city tech

The Washington, D.C., area's Dulles Airport corridor could become a hub for smart city innovation thanks to a project led by private equity firm 22 Capital Partners. The project, which had been joined by Microsoft and Crescent Ridge Capital Partners in March, recently signed on Virginia’s  Center for Innovative Technology and George Washington University.

The goal is for the area to become a proving ground, a place where entrepreneurs will test new technologies in a smart city environment and new methods that can lead to a repeatable process for smart city experimentation and innovation, 22 Capital Partners said in its announcement. The foundation for the technologies will be the 22 CityLink platform, which has been described as a “Smart City In-a-Box.”

Microsoft will help build the blueprint for the platform, which will be aligned with, if not directly a part of, Microsoft's CityNext program and its focus on neighborhood management, smart buildings, operations management and sustainable land use, according to a March report in the Washington Business Journal.

The first location to see the new technologies will be Ashburn, Va., specifically the new Gramercy District. Minh Le, managing partner of 22 Capital Partners, said the location is perfect for testing the goals of smart city tech.

“It brings together, in one location, the convergence of leading-edge technology and a holistic approach to improving the quality of life for the citizen,” Le said. “This vision for the future is now a reality and will be demonstrated in the development of Gramercy District.”

The $500 million project will sit on 16 acres near the future Ashburn Metro station and will be the test site for the platform, which is expected to underpin all future smart cities that 22 Capital Partners hopes to develop, according to an Aug. 15 Washington Business Journal article.

CIT will contribute its expertise in leading edge innovation, entrepreneurial ecosystems and early-stage investment programs. CIT President Ed Albrigo said the location will be open to businesses large and small to test new technology.

“The atmosphere and assets that will be available will help foster breakthroughs in technology that will provide the framework for the smart cities of the future,” Albrigo said.

George Washington University’s Science and Technology Campus in Ashburn  will bring its professional educational innovations in cybersecurity and data analytics. Along with its participation in entrepreneurial development and technology transfer education through the NSF funded iCorps program, GW is the lead for the Pennsylvania Avenue 2040 Environmental Sensing Project in Washington, D.C., and is part of the MetroLab Network, a national smart cities initiative for municipalities and research institutions to cooperate on key citywide issues.

This partnership with GW, the Gramercy District and CIT will support new research opportunities and scale up regional job training activities around Internet of Things, cybersecurity, city planning and entrepreneurship, 22 Capital Partners said.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at mleonard@gcn.com or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.


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