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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

Phone2Action, the Rosslyn-based government affairs technology company, has changed its name to Capitol Canary.

The rebranding comes as the company has expanded beyond what it was founded in 2012 to do — help organizations mobilize citizens via their smartphones — through acquisitions in late 2020.

That’s when Capitol Canary bought KnowWho, which provides an up-to-date directory of policymakers, and GovPredict, which helps users track bills and regulations.

With these two platforms, Capitol Canary says it now offers clients, who currently number 1,200 companies, organizations and advocates, a full-service government affairs solution that can help them push legislation through and energize voters.

A name change has been in the cards for a while now, co-founder Jeb Ory told ARLnow in a statement.

“We’ve kicked around name changes for years — as we grew and did more and more for our clients, we knew that rebranding would be something that would make a lot of sense,” he said. “We kicked the process off in earnest last summer. Once we down-selected to a handful of names, it pretty quickly became clear that Capitol Canary was the winner.”

So why Capitol Canary?

“‘Capitol’ immediately says government. Legislation. Policy. These are at the heart of what we do,” he said.  “‘Canary’ immediately implies relevant information and decisive action. Canaries are smart little birds that have helped people know what to do for centuries.”

Cofounder Jeb Ory and CEO Steven Schneider (courtesy photo)

The name change also comes ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, and in anticipation of these elections, Capitol Canary is rolling out some new features:

  • an “advocacy dashboard,” which customers can check to see if their campaigns are successful at moving the needle on an issue and engaging key lawmakers.
  • “impact reports,” generated in minutes, which stakeholders can use to run meetings with policymakers. These reports provide everything from bios of lawmakers and their committee assignments to the level of sway an organization has within a lawmaker’s district or state.
  • “get-out-the-vote” tools, which help employees, advocates and supporters check their voter registration status, learn about candidates and find information on how to vote.

And the Phone2Action era ends on a high note, according to Capitol Canary. After riding multiple tidal waves of civic engagement in 2020 — a global pandemic, nationwide social-justice campaigns and a contentious presidential election — the company recorded staggering engagement numbers in 2021.

More than 15.6 million people took roughly 25 million actions — such as signing a petition, calling their lawmaker, sending an email or tweeting at them — on policy issues ranging from COVID-19 relief to infrastructure using the Phone2Action platform. They also used it to access 12.6 million federal, state, local and regulatory policy documents.

Meanwhile, Fortune 100 companies such as Walmart and Uber, associations including the National Restaurant Association and PhRMA, and nonprofits such as the Innocence Project and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, used the platform to execute more than 14,500 campaigns.

“Since our founding in 2012, thousands of organizations have trusted our platform to help them shape public policy and elevate stakeholder’s voices. Together, we have transformed how constituents engage with their lawmakers and how public policy is formed, from Capitol Hill to city hall,” said Capitol Canary CEO Steven Schneider in a statement.

While the rebranding reflects this transformation and will kick off a second decade of growth, the company’s goal remains to provide “government affairs and advocacy teams with the tools, intelligence and data they need to do the hard and vital work of shaping policy,” he said.

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Morning Notes

Langston Blvd Plan Meets Resistance — “Following this May’s release of area planning maps and a presentation on density from consultant AECOM, a furious screed was published by Lyon Village Civic Association president John Carten. Though the process is still in the community engagement phase that precedes concrete recommendations, the hint of possible changes in the General Land Use Plan prompted the Lyon Village group to predict a parade of horribles.” [Falls Church News-Press]

New Clarendon Apartment Building Sold — “Trammell Crow Residential has sold the Alexan Earl, a 333-unit multifamily building at 1122 N. Hudson St., to Lincoln Property Co. for $192 million… The Earl represents the first phase of the long-planned Red Top Cab redevelopment… Shooshan continues to plan for the second phase, a roughly 250-unit building fronting Washington Boulevard at the intersection with 13th Street North. It expects to start demolition this fall.” [Washington Business Journal]

Online Fundraiser for Fallen Officer –” The family of George Gonzalez started a memorial fund Sunday for the Pentagon Force Protection Agency officer who was fatally wounded Tuesday on the platform of the Pentagon Transit Center… By 3 p.m. on Monday, the GoFundMe campaign had already raised $15,000, outstripping its original goal of $1,000.” [Patch, GoFundMe]

Local BBQ Joint Competing in ‘World Championship’ — “Arlington’s Smokecraft Modern Barbecue… has been invited to compete in the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue.  Taking place in Lynchburg, TN on on October 8th and 9th, ‘The Jack’ as it is known, is widely considered the world’s most prestigious barbecue competition.” [Press Release]

Va. AG Continues to Fight Robocalls — “Attorney General Mark R. Herring today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fight back against the scourge of illegal robocalls by moving up the deadline for smaller telephone companies to implement caller ID technology. Attorney General Herring joined a bipartisan coalition of 51 attorneys general have in submitting comments to the FCC.” [Press Release]

Pentagon to Require Vaccinations — “The Pentagon will require members of the military to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 15, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memo on Monday. About 64% of active duty military members are fully vaccinated, a low enough rate to pose concern for potential outbreaks and international deployment.” [Axios]

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The rate of new coronavirus cases in Arlington has reached the lowest point since October.

A total of 167 cases have been reported over the past week. That follows about two months of the case total fluctuating between about 200-300 new cases per week.

It has been a week since the last reported Covid-related hospitalization, and two weeks since the last reported Covid death.

Since the start of the pandemic, 5.5% of people infected with COVID-19 in Arlington — 14,846 cases as of today — have been hospitalized, while 1.7% of cases have resulted in a fatality.

The drop in cases comes as vaccinations in Arlington continue to speed up. The trailing seven-day average of daily vaccine doses administered rose above 3,000 for the first time today. About 1,650 people are being reported as fully vaccinated each day, according to ARLnow’s analysis of Virginia Dept. of Health data.

As of this morning, about 48% of the county’s adult population has received at least one vaccine dose. About 27% of the adult population is fully vaccinated.

On Sunday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced that all state residents ages 16 and older are now eligible to make a vaccination appointment. At 10 a.m. this morning, cell phones across the Commonwealth will buzz with a message encouraging those who haven’t yet been vaccinated to make an appointment.

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Morning Notes

Cell Service Now Available in All Metro Tunnels — “The nation’s major wireless carriers — AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon — and Metro today officially announced the final milestone, more than a decade in the making, to provide wireless service for those who use the Metrorail system… The latest activation brings the final three segments online between Dupont Circle in Downtown DC and White Flint in Maryland, the Yellow Line from L’Enfant Plaza to the Pentagon, and Silver Line in Tysons Corner.” [WMATA]

More on Amazon’s Affordable Housing Commitment — “‘The biggest housing challenge Arlington faces is preserving and building affordable housing, and Amazon is helping by creating a lot of affordable housing,’ said Matt de Ferranti, Arlington County Board chair via email. ‘Our budget is hurting as we feel the pandemic economically, but our housing prices for homes and condos and any place to live in the area is still increasing as people think we are a good long term place to live in part due to Amazon. We need the housing right now to avoid displacement.'” [GGWash]

Arlington Scores Well for Fiscal Health — “A new report on the financial condition of the 75 most populous cities ranked Arlington no. 16 in the nation for fiscal health. The report is based on the cities’ 2019 comprehensive annual financial reports, which are not analyzed on this scale by any other organization.” [Patch]

New Book Set in Arlington — There’s a new book, set in Arlington during the COVID era, that “tells the story of a sportswriter and baseball pitcher who decide to enjoy a one-night stand, only to discover that their relationship is something more.” [Mindy Klasky]

Inside Virginia’s Vaccine Struggles — “The state is now apportioning vaccines to local health districts based on their share of the state’s population. Previously, allocations were based on district requests, which often depended on demand and how many doses local health departments thought they’d be able to administer.” [Virginia Mercury]

Nearby: Transportation Changes for Seven Corners — “The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) will hold two ‘virtual’ meetings next month to seek public input on planned transportation improvements at the Seven Corners interchange and nearby roads.” [InsideNova]

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Virginia’s hands-free law takes effect on January 1, and that means it will be illegal to drive holding any personal communications device in Arlington or elsewhere in the Commonwealth.

The law was signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam during the summer. Police will now be able to pull over drivers if they are seen to be holding cell phones.

Previously, only texting or emailing while driving was against the law.

Last year, there were 23,000 crashes in Virginia attributed to distracted driving, resulting in 120 deaths, Northam said in a news conference earlier this month.

Drivers can talk hands-free, but if caught holding a phone they face fines of $125 for a first offense, and $250 for a second offense or if drivers are holding phones in a construction zone.

There are some exceptions:

  • Drivers of emergency vehicles can use handheld devices
  • Drivers can hold devices while stopped or parked
  • Drivers can hold devices when reporting emergencies
  • Virginia Department of Transportation vehicle drivers can use handheld devices while performing traffic incident management services

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Shirlington Gateway. The new 2800 Shirlington recently delivered a brand-new lobby and upgraded fitness center, and is adding spec suites with bright open plans and modern finishes. Experience a prime location and enjoy being steps from Shirlington Village.

Rosslyn-based Phone2Action, which helps organizations mobilize citizens via their smartphones, is on a bit of an acquisition spree.

Its newest acquisition is KnowWho, a 15-year-old company based in Newington, Virginia with an expansive congressional directory. Phone2Action CEO Jeb Ory said KnowWho runs the world’s largest, most current directory of public officials and policymakers in the U.S. and Europe.

With the addition, clients will find it easier to identify key decision-makers, make sense of new and changing policies and improve their government affairs, Phone2Action cofounder Ximena Hartsock said in a statement.

Phone2Action is still flying high from a record year of people using the platform to advocate for issues they care about, from federal aid to restaurants to police reform in the wake of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor to the election this November.

Last month, it purchased GovPredict, a technology company that helps organizations access federal data, see campaign donations, track bills and regulations and follow news.

Now, Phone2Action — which was founded in 2013 — owns the process of civic engagement from one end to the other. GovPredict identifies politicians and what issues they advocate for, KnowWho provides the best way to contact them, and Phone2Action gives regular people the chance to lobby politicians.

“Government relations and public affairs leaders have never faced such a tumultuous time as they do right now,” Ory said in a statement.

Government relations and public affairs teams will see government intelligence, find contact information and mobilize everyday citizens all in one platform, he said.

“Data powers the government relations field, plain and simple,” said KnowWho CEO and founder Bruce Brownson in a statement. “Phone2Action now directly maintains all the data that matters to government relations professionals today.”

Brownson will join the Phone2Action management team.

Phone2Action’s growth has exploded this year, according to Ory. It has 400 new clients, including eBay, Ericsson, Liberty Mutual, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Leadership Conference on Human Rights.

Phone2Action is keeping its Rosslyn headquarters at 1500 Wilson Blvd, and with both companies, will have nearly 200 employees, Ory said. Some are local to the area, while others are fully remote and located outside metro D.C.

Photo courtesy Phone2Action

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Shirlington Gateway. The new 2800 Shirlington recently delivered a brand-new lobby and upgraded fitness center, and is adding spec suites with bright open plans and modern finishes. Experience a prime location and enjoy being steps from Shirlington Village. 

A global pandemic, nationwide social-justice campaigns and a contentious presidential election: 2020 threw three curveballs at Rosslyn-based startup Phone2Action.

“What a year, right?”

That is Jeb Ory, the founder of Phone2Action, which offers software that promotes civic engagement through mobile phones. Last week he announced that his company is acquiring fellow startup GovPredict, following 10 months of user engagement levels that his staff have never seen before.

“We have had far and away record usage of our software this year,” he said.

Ory called the acquisition of GovPredict a “natural fit” and a “game changer.”

Founded in 2015, GovPredict builds software for nonprofits, lobbying firms, campaigns and corporations. Acquiring the startup will help both companies stay ahead of trends in digital advocacy, he said.

“It became so clear that if we were to combine forces, we would be able to solve challenging problems for our clients, to help them do their jobs better, to have better policy campaigns and make better decisions,” he said.

Unlike Phone2Action, which Ory said had a very active office culture until the shutdown orders, GovPredict has a 100% remote workforce, with many staff in the D.C. area. The 1500 Wilson Blvd office will remain Phone2Action’s headquarters as it continues offering its hybrid home-office work plan to its 160 employees. The company grew by 60 with the acquisition.

Phone2Action’s software proved to be what associations, nonprofits and organizations needed to inform and “activate” people from a distance during the COVID-19 relief efforts this spring, the social-justice initiatives this summer and the election campaigns this fall.

During the week leading up to the passage of the CARES Act, Phone2Action saw 1.5 million people advocate for policies, most of them new to their clients.

When restaurants closed, the National Restaurant Association rallied industry members to share their stories with lawmakers, he said. Another client, the American Nurses Association, changed the conversation around what personal protective equipment is and how to make sure hospitals have them.

“We saw massive engagement because regular people understood how serious this is,” Ory said. “Whatever the role, they wanted to pitch in.”

Phone2Action saw another wave of engagement after the police killing of George Floyd. During the summer of social-justice campaigns and protests, nonprofits saw spikes in online and offline engagement.

This fall, more than 10 million people visited Phone2Action’s customizable “Get Out the Vote” centers. One client, Headcount, ran celebrity-promoted voter registration drives that saw hundreds of thousands of new voters register.

“It’s been exciting and humbling to be a part of,” Ory said. “These issues are life-and-death for so many people.”

The pandemic has also changed Phone2Action’s work culture for the better, he said. With some employees fully remote before the pandemic, and others in the office full-time, the company has had a chance to evaluate what each worker needs to succeed, without priority being given to those who happened to be in the office.

“I think it’s important to acknowledge how fortunate we are to” be able to work remotely, he said.

Photo courtesy Phone2Action

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Arlington County police are investigating an early morning armed robbery in Crystal City.

The incident happened just before 4 a.m. Monday, on the 1500 block of Crystal Drive. Police say a woman walked up behind another woman, who was on her phone, and “bear hugged” her while demanding the phone.

The robbery attempt escalated as the victim refused to give up the phone.

“The suspect produced a firearm and again demanded the phone unsuccessfully,” ACPD said in a crime report this morning. “A second suspect appeared and began to yell, while a brief struggle ensued between the victim and Suspect One. During the struggle, the victim was dragged briefly as Suspect One stole her bag.”

“The suspects then fled on foot prior to police arrival. The victim was not injured,” the crime report says. “Suspect One is described as a Black female, 20-25 years old, 5’4″-5’6″, 140-150 lbs., with black hair in a bun, a black face mask, dark hoodie, and long pants. Suspect Two is described as a Black male, age 20-25, 5’10”-6’0″, 160-170 lbs., with short, black, curly hair, a black face mask, dark hoodie, and long pants. The investigation is ongoing.”

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You might have trouble trying to reach Arlington County via phone today.

The county government has been experiencing technical difficulties with its phone lines since earlier this morning.

“We are currently experiencing intermittent disruptions to some of the County’s call center numbers and are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible,” says the county’s website.

“Try the appropriate email addresses off arlingtonva.us for now,” advised Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services.

Update at 12:40 p.m. — The phone issue “has been resolved.”

File photo

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Police are looking for a man who broke a window at a fast-food restaurant along Lee Highway last night.

The incident happened around 11:30 p.m. on the 5000 block of Lee Highway, according to Arlington County Police. The restaurant is not named but that block is home to a Wendy’s.

“Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect, who was a passenger in a vehicle in a drive thru line, became irate while waiting for his order, exited his vehicle and threw a cell phone at the window of the business, causing damage,” ACPD said in a crime report. “The suspect re-entered the vehicle and fled prior to police arrival.”

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The second time was not the charm for a robbery victim who was trying to get his stolen property back.

Police say they were called to the area of Penrose Square, along Columbia Pike, around 3:15 p.m. this past Friday for a report of a theft. The victim told officers that he tried for confront two men who previously stole his phone, but during the confrontation the pair stole his iPad.

To add insult to injury, the suspects allegedly shoved the victim as he attempted to call police, before then fleeing the scene. So far, no arrests have been announced.

The full Arlington County Police crime report item is below.

ROBBERY, 2020-01170195, 2500 block of 9th Road S. At approximately 3:14 p.m. on January 17, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim made contact with two subjects who previously stole his phone. He attempted to confront them to retrieve his phone, however, during the encounter, the suspect stole the victim’s iPad. When the victim attempted to call police, the suspects pushed the victim and fled. Suspect One is described as a black male, with long black dreads, about 5’8″, medium build, late 20’s years old and wearing a blue jacket. Suspect Two is described as a male, homeless, possibly from Pakistan, in his 40’s, about 6’2″, with a skinny build, short black hair and wearing a green jacket. The investigation is ongoing.

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