Arlington, VA

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Excella, a Courthouse-based technology firm, has been selected as the lead partner in an effort to put together an app to detect alcohol misuse and risk of relapse.

The app, called Beacon, is designed to help medical professionals assess whether a patient is suffering from alcohol use disorder through a “combination of behavioral economics and advanced technology,” according to a press release. The product is still in development, but the goal is to be more effective than traditional methods of detecting alcohol abuse.

The company will utilize the work of Virginia Tech software development students at its Extension Center in Blacksburg. The company will also partner with Roanoke-based BEAM Diagnostics, Inc. to develop the app.

“The nation’s substance use epidemic presents massive challenges to every facet of our society, and we are committed to helping BEAM make the world better through tech innovation,” said Margaret Archer, Excella’s Director of University Programs. “Beacon is exactly the type of solution that our mentor-and-student development teams love to build, and we are happy to be a part of the solution.”

This isn’t Excella’s first foray into apps for a public good: the company previously developed MySpot, which helps homeless youth find nearby shelters and assistance. The press release also notes that the company has worked with government agencies for years to combat opioid fraud and abuse.

Image via Excella/Facebook

0 Comments

Local governments officials are hoping a new  trip planning app with cash rewards will incentivize more environmentally-friendly commutes.

The app, called incenTrip, uses real-time data to plot quick routes, and uses artificial intelligence to customize those routes for an individual over time. Regional officials said they’re hopeful the app’s built-in reward system will encourage more commuters to help reduce traffic and carbon emissions by ditching their cars.

“The end goal is to provide the most cost effective tool for our agencies, our community and our employees, to incentivize behavioral changes,” said Dr. Lei Zhang, who was in charge of creating the app as director of the University of Maryland’s Transportation Institute.

A pilot version of incepTrip first hit the app stores last year after being by developed by Commuter Connections, a Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments initiative, and the Transportation Institute.

The app features a reward system that gives users “points” when they choose a transportation mode that reduces carbon emissions — like the bus or biking — and gives $10 cash awards once users accumulate at least 1,000 points. At 2,000 points users can receive a check for $25, and at 3,500 points they can receive $50.

The incentives are funded through state and federal transportation departments.

VDOT transportation planner Heidi Mitter said the department “has a big emphasis on multi-modal transportation” that pairs with the app’s mission.

“Arlington is dense and has a lot options,” Mitter said of transit in the county, telling ARLnow that hopefully that meant this app would benefit the county’s residents and commuters. 

The app could also help Arlington’s employers, many of which have workers commuting in from other jurisdictions, said Nicholas Ramfos, Director of MWCOG’s Transportation Operations Programs.

“Particularly for employers if they’re having parking issues or other types of recruitment retention issues this is a great way to offer these travel options tho those employees and help reduce some of the congestion that coming into that area,” he said.

When asked, Ramfos added he “absolutely” believed the app could help ease the expected increase in traffic from Amazon’s HQ2, which has started the hiring process for the 25,000 jobs the company promised the county.

Read More

0 Comments

(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) Arlington’s Red Top Cab has joined the taxi booking app Riide in an effort to win customers that might otherwise be wooed by the usability of Uber and Lyft.

The app, available on Apple, Android, and Microsoft phones, seems to work similarly to Uber and Lyft ride booking apps. Passengers can see exactly how far nearby drivers are, within 10 seconds of the cab’s latest location, and are given an estimated fare for trips.

The number of Red Top drivers has gone down by one-third since 2015, according to Kyle Summers, Red Top Cab’s new president. Prior to the disruption caused by the ride booking apps, Red Top had a seemingly never-ending supply of interested drivers said Summers, who joined Red Top Cab this month after leaving Irish transportation software company iCabbi.

“Uber and Lyft, they’ve done great things for the industry,” he said. “They’ve made it so that taxicab companies have to act better. The taxicab companies did this to themselves, to be honest… For us, we need to be able to provide the right tools to get drivers to want to drive for us and for customers to want to use us.”

Both Summers and Von Pelot, the local cab company’s sales and marketing director for the past 26 years, said they hope that the new app would be an improvement over the older, dedicated Red Top app and would help them better compete with Uber and Lyft.

One area where Red Top still has a disadvantage, according to the executives, is in existing regulations that apply to cabs but not to ride hailing companies. While Uber and Lyft drivers can sign up and drive sometimes within 24 hours, Red Top Cab drivers have to sometimes wait three months to begin driving, while undergoing training, background checks and other regulatory hurdles.

The regulatory challenge is something that Summers hopes to tackle to persuade drivers to work for the company.

Riide, which started in the United Kingdom and is expanding to parts of the U.S., aims to allow users to book taxi rides from local companies without needing to change apps.

Pelot said that he believed that the app would be a great benefit for riders because of the “broader base of affiliations” that Red Top can use to fulfill customer’s needs. He used the example of an Arlington rider traveling to Manassas and being able to use the app to schedule both the trip there and back.

The company’s current Red Top Cab app will be discontinued as operations shift to Riide.

Note: An earlier version of the article stated that the number of Red Top drivers had gone down by two-thirds since 2015.

Red Top Cab’s executive misspoke during an interview when asked how many drivers they had lost since 2015. The company has lost one-third since 2015, and have retained two-thirds of their drivers, not vice-versa.

0 Comments

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Todd Moore spends three to five hours a day listening to podcasts.

“I’ve never really been happy with the existing podcast apps,” he said.

That’s where the idea for Playapod, a cross-platform syncing podcast app, came in. The app, created by Moore through the Crystal City-based TMSOFT, best known for its white noise app, is compatible with all Android and iOS devices and is available to download from the Google Play Store, Apple App Store and the Amazon App store. The app launched last week.

One podcast-playing problem that bothered Moore was the inability to sync podcasts across different devices from different platforms. Another issue was the difficulty of relocating where someone left off listening to a podcast.

“Something that frustrates me with all audio playback app, like even Amazon’s audio books, they never show you what you’ve listened to,” he said.

That made it easy to lose place in a podcast if, for example, the user accidentally touch the wrong button. On Playapod, users can see exactly where they left off if they lose their place through the precision progress bar. Users can also bookmark the most-recently played portion of a podcast for future playback, said Moore.

Playapod is free and has no advertisements. Another feature includes the ability to download podcasts so users can listen offline.

“I think the interface of Playapod is very simple, and it’s intuitive and it’s easy to navigate,” Moore said. “So I think it’s going to be a real hit based on the initial feedback I’m seeing.”

Playapod may have some big shoes to fill against its competitors at Apple and Amazon, but Moore said he’s not concerned.

“I think if people try Playapod, they’re going to see a better feature set. I think they’re going to enjoy this type of listening experience, and I’ve spent a year on this, so I’m a little biased,” he said.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Residents Irked at App-Directed Traffic — Residents who live just west of Crystal City are upset that map apps like Waze keep directing cut-through traffic down S. Fern Street as an alternative to S. Eads Street or Route 1. A resident who spoke at Saturday’s County Board meeting said her complaints to Arlington County staff have not resulted in any action. [InsideNova]

Army Ten-Miler to Close Roads Next Month — A number of roads around Crystal City and Pentagon City will close on Sunday, Oct. 8 for the annual Army Ten-Miler race. [Arlington County]

Lions Club Scrambling to Find Xmas Tree Lot — The South Arlington Lions Club is not even sure they’ll be able to hold their annual Christmas tree sale in South Arlington this year. The club’s usual location in the parking lot of the former Food Star is under construction and the club just learned that county land is off-limits to nonprofit fundraising. [InsideNova]

Colorado Has Its Own Serial Pooper — A bizarre situation that’s drawing comparisons to Arlington’s own serial pooper of 2016 is playing out in Colorado. Residents in Colorado Springs say a female jogger has been repeatedly, unapologetically defecating in their neighborhood. [Deadspin, Washington Post]

Nauck Leaders Lauded — A pair of community stalwarts were honored by the Nauck Civic Association in a ceremony this past weekend. “Wanda Pierce was lauded for her tenure leading the Arlington Community Foundation,” while “Cleveland ‘Bubby’ James Jr., another longtime resident, was honored for his work with the youth and young adults of Nauck and the entire county.” [InsideNova]

0 Comments

Morning Notes

More Beds Likely at VHC — Virginia Hospital Center is likely to receive authorization to add more than 40 new beds. That’s less than its original request of 100 new beds, for which it received push-back. [InsideNova]

New Library App — Arlington Public Library has released a new app for iPhone and Android. Users can perform tasks including checking their accounts, searching the catalog, booking meeting rooms and checking operating hours. [Arlington County]

Kaine Staff to Hold Arlington Office Hours — Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D) staff will hold office hours at the Westover Library (1644 N. McKinley Road) on Thursday from 1-3 p.m. They will be available for one-on-one meetings with citizens to answer questions or address concerns. Those interested in speaking with a staff member are encouraged to make an appointment in advance, but walk-ins also are welcome. [Sen. Tim Kaine]

0 Comments

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Starting in late April, cat and dog owners can track their pets and find animal-friendly places to eat and stay in one place.

Set to hit major app stores next month, Roaming Tails will provide one platform for all pet owners’ biggest needs. Ballston resident Jaime Bowerman founded the company in 2014, inspired by Flipflop, her Daschund.

“In talking to many other pet parents, they seemed to have similar sorts of problems, and there’s really no good place to find accurate data that tells us where we can take our pets,” Bowerman said. “She also had a mind of her own like most dogs do, and there had been a time where I thought she was missing, which was kind of scary.”

Pets are connected to their owners through a tag around their neck, which connects to the app via Bluetooth. That tag then integrates with the app to provide medical records, and has a long battery life of upwards of a year.

The app will be available for free download. Tag services would be available for a one-off payment of $39.99, but no monthly fees.

And while the Bluetooth capabilities limit the range of separation between an owner and their pet to about 50 yards, Bowerman said there has progress on that front.

In January, company employees attended the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and agreed to partner with a major tag provider to have tags that use Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth.

Bowerman said that combined with the Ballston Business Improvement District’s initiative to deliver free wi-fi in the neighborhood’s public spaces can help grow the product’s use.

“What we’re really hoping to do on launch in early April is to make [Ballston] the most pet-friendly place possible that we can,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting technology.”

With the launch a matter of weeks away, Bowerman said she and her colleagues are working to get the app as perfect as possible by testing it among themselves. But with hopes of partnerships with pet stores and veterinarians, they have grand ambitions.

Roaming Tails also could be at the forefront of partnerships with local pet-friendly restaurants, Bowerman said.

“Let’s say you’re walking past a restaurant with our tag, what happens is your phone will bark at you and say, ‘Bring Fido in for two-for-one drinks,'” she said. “It really is a way for restaurants to easily market to people with pets and to easily set up rewards programs and things like that.”

Bowerman said with the way the relationship is evolving between pets and their owners, this app can fill a valuable need in one place.

“Technology is changing the way we life live with our pets, but unfortunately it just takes a lot of apps to enhance the quality of life or change that,” she said. “What we have done is taken most features and put them on one platform that allows you to do these things.”

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Christmas trees (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Per Student Spending Questioned — Arlington Public Schools is again being questioned about why it has the highest per-student costs — $18,957 — of any suburban D.C. jurisdiction. Fairfax County, the largest school system in the state, has a per-student cost of $14,432. [InsideNova]

Woman’s Tireless TSA Protest — Alyssa Bermudez, a former Army staff sergeant and Bronze Star recipient, has been tirelessly protesting in front of Transportation Security Administration headquarters in Pentagon City, claiming that she was sexually harassed and fired for complaining about it. Other complaints and a lawsuit point to an alleged culture of harassment within the agency. [Washington Post]

ACPD Officers Meet Shaq — NBA great Shaquille O’Neal visited with D.C. area police yesterday on Capitol Hill to raise awareness of the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs. Several ACPD officers were photographed with the 7’1″ O’Neal. [Twitter, Twitter]

AFAC Needs New Van — The Arlington Food Assistance Center is seeking donations to help it buy a new cargo van, after one of its old vans broke down while on a grocery run. [Fox 5, AFAC]

LiveSafe Launches Navy Pilot ProgramArlington-based startup LiveSafe has launched a six-month pilot program with a big client: the U.S. Navy. LiveSafe’s app will be used by sailors in Hampton Roads, Va. and in Rota, Spain “in an effort to prevent sexual assaults and combat other destructive behaviors before they happen.” [Stars and Stripes]

Arlington Man Tweets Hillary Sightings — Arlingtonian Adam Parkhomenko, a long-time Hillary Clinton aide and booster, is helping grieving Democrats by turning the former presidential candidate into a “wandering folk hero.” He’s doing so via a social media account that keeps track of photos of Clinton “in the wild” since she lost the election. [Vanity Fair]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

0 Comments

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Sometimes business is booming, branding is on point and more customers pour in without prompting. Other times, a business might need an extra punch. That’s where Punch Digital Strategies comes in.

Punch Digital StrategiesIn the crowded field of digital marketing, the creative strategists at Punch aim to set themselves apart by offering clients the “whole package.” Co-Founder and Creative Director Joe DePalma explains that Punch is a boutique agency and competitors in that space often only focus on one thing, such as brand identity or development or design.

“The success stories we have had is when we started to merge the idea of strategy and content with design,” he says. “From a product delivery standpoint we have a unique approach to how we collaborate. Being in control of not only the content but also the design and development, every facet, makes the final project come to life.”

Co-Founder Brian Tillman adds that “clients are often good at knowing their technical content, but not marketing.” That creates a “mismatched user experience and message. We’re trying to fuse those two things,” he says.

The agency consists of writers, designers and developers who focus on producing digital elements — such as websites, mobile apps, videos and downloadable content — to create the “next generation” for each client’s brand identity and message. The digital aspect allows Punch to be browser-based both internally and while interacting with clients.

“Instead of the old way where you’d do a big reveal on a poster board and send versions back and forth and have long email chains where things get lost, we do things in a much more efficient way,” Tillman says. “For clients it’s a lot quicker, more collaborative and more involved. And it helps to reduce errors and miscommunication.”

The Punch Digital Strategies team Even though the business is mostly web-based, the co-founders think it’s important to also have an office presence where the employees can collaborate and bounce ideas off of each other in front of a white board, rather than all employees working remotely. “You’re going to get a better product and the client’s going to see value in that,” DePalma says.

Part of offering high-quality deliverables involves researching and incorporating the most up-to-date digital elements and new media. For example, Punch recently created a virtual reality video that users could access on their mobile phones and view through disposable cardboard VR goggles.

“As people consume things differently our tactical delivery will change,” Tillman says. “The medium is constantly evolving. We have to stay ahead of the curve.”

Plus, Tillman says, having a cache of tech and cybersecurity clients means constantly coming up with compelling ways to present dry material. For instance, the VR project was for a business that makes software, but “making software is boring,” he says. “We needed to figure out a really interesting and immersive and creative way to get people excited about it.”

Tillman and DePalma met while working at another agency and decided to break off to start their own business about two years ago. They now have a 10-person creative team and moved into an office in Shirlington earlier this year. Although launching a startup can be a daunting endeavor — especially because they chose to be self-funded — the Punch co-founders say it was worth taking the risk.

Read More

0 Comments

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

actNOW app prototypeRecently there has been more attention paid to how incidents of sexual assault are handled on college campuses. The team behind actNOW wants to help the victims of those campus assaults easily get access to the resources they need to deal with the frightening, overwhelming issue.

Co-founder Mark Harris says actNOW is a “survivor-centered model to help after an assault has occurred.” Many sexual assault victims are “unfamiliar with how to [report the incident]. There’s a lot of information on websites, but it’s not streamlined,” Harris says. That realization prompted him to look for a way to gather all the information into one place and make it available on a convenient mobile platform.

The web- and app-based service will allow victims of sexual assault to report the incident — either anonymously or with identifying information — to the authorities of their choice. The user enters information about the incident and can choose to inform the university, the campus Title IX office and/or the police.

Users who enter information and then don’t feel like they want to send it can also choose to store the information until they are ready to pass it on to officials. “After an event that is really traumatic, a person may want to wait to come forward,” explains co-founder and certified sexual assault nurse Stacy Garrity.

According to co-founder Lee Reynolds, the actNOW team wanted to “deliver something that’s uactNOW app prototypeseful and impactful” to allow victims to “tell their stories and… know it’s not the end of the road.”

The team members add that this is not a platform for people to put their stories out to the public or media, but rather for victims to report incidents to authorities. But it isn’t only intended to be a reporting platform; the app also will link victims to physical and psychological healthcare providers.

The service makes it less intimidating to report incidents and takes the guesswork out of trying to discover or remember available resources, the co-founders say. Harris stresses that “actNOW is a liaison to the services. We do not provide the actual psychological or physical health services.”

The service started as Harris’ academic project at Georgetown University, and he found Garrity through researching sexual assault resources. Along with Harris’ longtime friend Reynolds, the three officially launched actNOW in March. The Arlington-based business now has six employees.

Much time has been dedicated to researching and initiating appropriate app security measures for both sexual assault victims and the universities where assaults occur. “We have to be mindful of each university’s rules for investigations,” Harris says. In addition, actNOW employees want to make sure strong security measures are in place to ensure the utmost protection for victims’ identifying information and HIPAA privacy.

The actNOW team at a pitch competitionCurrently, actNOW has an app prototype and employees are getting feedback on it from sexual assault victims; so far, the response has been positive. The employees are actively seeking funding and participated in a pitch competition a couple weeks ago. They’re working toward formal app development, which they hope to begin with a tech firm in the next few weeks. If all goes well, they’d like to send the finished app to universities in April 2017 during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The goal is to spend the next three years or so maturing actNOW through activities such as receiving focus group feedback and adding additional features to the service. Eventually, employees would like to explore the possibility of expanding the service to the military.

As far as measuring success with the tool, the actNOW team says that’s achieved when people actually use the tool to get help. “It’s really hard for people to report sexual assault,” Garrity says. “So when we start to see usage of the product, I think we’ll see success.”

The team hopes their passion for developing empowerment through technology will help victims both in the short term and down the road, while simultaneously raising awareness about sexual assault.

“We want to put control back in our users’ hands,” Harris says.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Medical helicopter lands near Arlington Traditional School, transporting a patient to Virginia Hospital Center

W-L Defeats Yorktown, Heads to Playoffs — The Washington-Lee Generals defeated cross-county rival Yorktown Friday night to advance to the football playoffs. W-L was trailing when senior quarterback Ricardo Mestre passed for a touchdown with just seconds remaining to clinch the win. [Washington Post]

Board Advertises Ballston Historic District — The Arlington County Board voted unanimously Saturday to advertise hearings on designating a small family graveyard in Ballston a local historic district, ahead of a planned redevelopment by the Central United Methodist Church. “The Board on Saturday received assurances from the church that it will not seek to remove any remains from the graveyard before the County has an opportunity to consider its historic designation,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]

Students: Adults Should Tone Down Boundary Rhetoric — Some adults have taken their rhetoric over the current Arlington Public Schools high school boundary refinement process too far, according to a pair of high school students who spoke at Thursday’s School Board meeting. “We honestly consider some of the comments made thus far to be an embarrassment,” said a Yorktown student. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Arlington Smartphone App Updated — Arlington County has made a number of new upgrades to its My Arlington App for smartphones. The changes include a new home screen design, transit alerts and, just in time for Election Day, polling locations and a map of voter precincts. [Arlington County]

Cyclebar Now Open on the Pike — Cyclebar, a new indoor cycling studio, has officially opened along Columbia Pike. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Nov. 1. [Cyclebar]

Library Director: Vote on Nov. 8 — From Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh’s blog: “Every election is important and every vote counts. And it’s a privilege that for people in many parts of the world is not enjoyed. On Tuesday, vote as if your life depends on it; it does.” [Arlington Public Library]

Free Home Buying Seminar TonightSponsored — The Orange Line Living Team is hosting a Free Home Buying Seminar with a local lender and all attendees will receive two guarantees just for attending: 1) Buyer satisfaction — if you don’t love your new home they will buy it back or sell it for free for 12 months, and 2) $1,500 home purchase credit. See website for details and conditions. The event is being at 1600 Wilson Blvd #101 in Arlington, from 6-8 p.m. tonight, Nov. 7. [Orange Line Living]

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list