Arlington, VA

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnowStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties remains firmly committed to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, tenants and community. This week, Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1000 and 1100 Wilson (The Rosslyn Towers).

Rosslyn startup Airside Mobile is rebranding to just Airside as part of a pivot from being a travel app developer to a company focused on securing data and privacy in online interactions.

“Airside was founded shortly after the first generation iPhone was launched,” the company said in its blog. “We hopped at the opportunity to develop ultra-secure mobile technology, including the award-winning Mobile Passport App. However, the ‘Airside Mobile’ label no longer applies to our broader set of capabilities and offerings that extend beyond mobile apps to SDKs, APIs, and more. Our new name maintains the continuity of our brand while also allowing more breadth and depth for our products and services.”

In an interview with the podcast State of Identity, Chief Commercial Officer Jessica Patel said that international changes brought about by COVID-19 have emphasized the need for secure online interactions.

“The world has changed so much in these last couple of months,” Patel said. “There are some industries in the short term that have gone fully virtual that people might not have expected, like technology supporting fully virtual education. Obviously virtual healthcare and the overall health-tech space has evolved and become a bigger need in these more recent weeks… There are some of these industries that were not nearly as virtual as they are today [and there is] a need for digital identity to play a major role.”

Patel said she doubted that many of the industries that had to shift to virtual interactions will ever go back to the level of in-person interaction before the pandemic.

“When I think about changes all kinds of industries will have to make there’s going to be moves to offering digital interactions instead of physical,” Patel said. “There’s going to be a real push to implement more contactless solutions. I think that’s where leveraging digital ID and biometric technologies are going to play a huge role in a lot of these verticals.”

Over the last few months, the company has offered its digital suite of products to organizations on the front lines of fighting the pandemic, free of charge.

“If your organization is on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 and you believe that a digital identity solution would support your cause, please contact us,” the company said in a press release. “We’re here to help. Airside is uniquely positioned to respond to this need because we can protect the data with best-in-class encryption, ensure a high level of privacy for the individual and the organization, and utilize our FedRAMP-certified environment to handle increased transactions for your fundamentally important cause.”

Patel said the company’s experience in verifying identities while maintaining privacy is opening doors to expanding into a variety of financial, retail, and travel interactions. The company offers products like software development kits businesses can use for their own products or document scanning and chip reading products. Some of those, Patel said, are sold as monthly or annual licenses, while others are product sales.

“As we look to grow how we’re supporting consumers, we’ve grown beyond a customs application into a broader digital identity solution,” Patel said, “whether in banking, travel, insurance, education technology… we’re seeking to a be a ubiquitous form of digital identity that continues to put the control of sensitive information in the consumer’s hands.”

It’s a message that seems to have resonated with investors, with the Washington Business Journal reporting last week that Airside has raised $13.6 million in new funding.

Photo via Airside/Facebook

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Morning Notes

HQ2 May Have Security Robots — “Amazon.com Inc. wants to keep its second headquarters safe. And it’s looking at a variety of methods like incognito barricades, a police presence on the campus, external facing cameras, and, oh yeah, ‘security robots.'” [Washington Business Journal]

More on Tuesday AM Robbery on the Pike — “The victim was in sitting in his parked vehicle, when an occupied vehicle pulled in front of him. The occupants of the vehicle engaged the victim in conversation and asked him to make change for their bill. During the exchange, the suspects gave the victim a lesser sum of money in return for the change and attempted to drive off. When the victim attempted to stop the vehicle, the suspects exited, assaulted him and attempted to steal his wallet.” [Arlington County]

CO Leak at GW Parkway Building — Arlington County firefighters responded to a possible carbon monoxide leak at the GW Parkway maintenance facility near Crystal City yesterday afternoon. Two people were evaluated for CO-related symptoms, per scanner traffic, and the leak was traced to a malfunctioning HVAC system. [Twitter]

Major Reston Property Owner Buys in Clarendon — “An affiliate Comstock Holding Cos. Inc. has acquired the Hartford building in Clarendon, extending its local footprint beyond its major outside-the-Capital Beltway developments in Reston and Ashburn. Comstock… bought the nine-story building at 3101 Wilson Blvd. from an affiliate of Chicago’s Heitman Capital Management for $128.75 million.” [Washington Business Journal, Globe Newswire]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

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Morning Notes

New Security Measures at ANC — “Arlington National Cemetery is implementing heightened security measures after a U.S. airstrike killed a top Iranian general. The extra security will create longer lines at security checkpoints and delays… All visitors over the age of 16 will be required to show a valid state or government photo ID to enter by foot or car, Arlington National Cemetery says. Visitors aged 16 or 17 can show a school-issued ID.” [NBC 4, Twitter]

Office Building Above Rosslyn Safeway Sold — “An affiliate of The Meridian Group has paid $113.15 million for 1525 Wilson Blvd., a Rosslyn office building featuring the colorful sculpture of a dancing couple, after selling another building in the Arlington County office market last summer.” [Washington Business Journal]

Lee Highway Planning Update — “To mark the end of a year collecting ideas for the road’s ‘reimagining‘ by the nonprofit Lee Highway Alliance, its executive director, Ginger Brown, gave an update predicting that phase two — development of land-use and zoning ideas — could be ‘the most contentious.’ […] ‘Lee Highway is stuck in 1950s strip-mall zoning,’ Brown told a Dec. 19 breakfast group.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Local Shop Has Best Cheese Selection in the U.S.? — Arrowine, a long-time ARLnow sponsor, has the best wine selection in the D.C. area and possibly the best cheese selection in the country after its recent renovation, according to local restaurant reviewer Don Rockwell. [DCDining.com]

Pike Lane Closures Are Hurting Local Business — “An employee at Cinthia’s Bakery II on Columbia Pike said the restaurant is seeing a significant drop off in the number of customers and an increase in empty tables all due to the construction.” [WJLA]

Yorktown Boys Improve to 11-0 — “This is the new Yorktown basketball: Take the first available shot, press nonstop on defense, substitute in a whole new lineup every 90 seconds. It’s a strategy some other area schools have tried — Lake Braddock, most successfully — but few have perfected. And it has the Patriots, the worst team in their conference last season, undefeated at 11-0 after a dazzling 86-51 rout of Madison (6-5).” [Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

Metro Tests New Tech in Pentagon City — The Transportation Security Administration and Metro rolled out new security technology at the Pentagon City Metro station on Tuesday. The system “can detect an individual concealing an improvised explosive device, such as a suicide vest or another weapon.” [Fox 5, Twitter]

HQ2 Leads to Development Boom — “Arlington officials, developers, market researchers — everyone, really — predicted that Amazon.com Inc.’s arrival in the county would generate a development boom in the company’s neighborhood. So far, they’ve been right.” [Washington Business Journal]

Tafti Sworn in as Prosecutor — Parisa Dehghani-Tafti was sworn in Monday as Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington and Falls Church. On Tuesday she warned a crowd at a progressive think tank there has been a “growing narrative in pretty extreme circles that trying to reimagine the criminal-legal system is somehow going to make us less safe…somehow disrespects victims.” [Twitter, Blue Virginia]

Airport Authority Voting on $15 Wage — After years of protests, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is set to vote today on a new policy that would increase the hourly wages of contracted workers — baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants, lobby agents, skycaps, cabin cleaners, airport concessions and airline catering workers — from $12.75 to $15 by 2023. [Press Release]

Beyer Pushing for Quieter Airplanes — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who has long advocated against excessive noise from aircraft landing at and taking off from Reagan National Airport, is calling on NASA to study ways to make commercial jetliners quieter and cleaner in a new bill. [Press Release]

Northam Proposes Nixing Vehicle Inspections — “Gov. Ralph Northam wants to end state-mandated vehicle safety inspections and cut vehicle registration fees in half, proposals his administration says would eventually save Virginians more than $280 million per year. But motorists would have to pay a few dollars more each time they fill up on gas under a proposal to increase the state’s motor vehicle fuels tax from about 22 cents per gallon to 34 cents per gallon over three years.” [Virginia Mercury]

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The Arlington County Board is looking to potentially use armed, private guards for security at county government headquarters in Courthouse.

The guards could help provide security at the building (2100 Clarendon Blvd) generally and during County Board meetings specifically, relieving pressure on the understaffed local police force.

According to an item on this weekend’s County Board meeting agenda:

The County currently stations armed police officers at the Bozman Government Center, as well as armed sheriff’s deputies at County Board meetings. To enhance public safety and security, the County would like the option to use armed private security guards.

The agenda item says that adding private guards would enhance the security at County Board meetings without taking law enforcement officers away from other jobs around Arlington.

The prospect of private security came up in the wake of the Virginia Beach shooting at a municipal building.

“After the Virginia Beach shooting in May, 2019, the County Manager hosted a virtual employee town hall meeting to discuss workplace security,” the agenda item said. “[This item] merely expands the choices that the County may make for the provision of that security.”

“Funding for the potential costs of enhanced security in the Bozman Government Center was included in the Adopted FY 2020 Budget,” county staff noted in the report.

File photo

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Arlington Public Schools has implemented a new identification system for all visitors entering schools starting Tuesday, September 3.

Whether picking up a child or visiting a staff member, all first-time visitors — including parents, volunteers, and contractors — must register in the district-wide Visitor Management System (VMS), according to a statement from APS. In order to register, visitors must provide an approved form of identification along with the nature of their visit.

School spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow APS implemented the program “as part of our safety and security enhancements and to streamline visitor management at all schools,” and is fully covered in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget.

Accepted forms of identification include:

  • United States or foreign issued driver’s license
  • United States or foreign issued driver’s license
  • United States or foreign government identification
  • United States or foreign military identification
  • State Department of Motor Vehicles’ photo identification card
  • United States or foreign government-issued passport
  • Permanent Resident Card (i.e. Green Card)
  • Re-entry Permit
  • Arlington Public Schools Alternate Parent Identification Card

The initial registry includes a screening against the Commonwealth of Virginia and Federal sex offender registries.

In order to qualify for the Alternate Parent Identification, the visitor must be a parent or legal guardian listed on a student’s online information file.

“For example, an aunt who is the emergency contact for an enrolled student who is not the parent or legal guardian would not be eligible [for the Alternate Parent Identification],” wrote officials in the statement.

Once admitted, visitors must wear a temporary printed badge at all times. In order to exit the school, they must go through the same kiosk and use the barcode on their temporary identification to check out.

Following the February 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, then-APS Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy stressed safety as a top priority, noting APS officials have been strictly “reinforcing” and “double-checking” awareness of school visitors at all times.

File photo

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Spike likes playing frisbee, playing with a chew toy, and sniffing out explosive chemicals in Reagan National Airport.

The black labrador retriever is one of four — soon to be five — explosives detection canines patrolling the airport. This morning (Monday), Spike led a public demonstration at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint to show off his nose and teach the public about airport bomb dogs for National Dog Day.

Daniel La Rose, Spike’s handler, says the daily grind of ensuring the safety of the travelling public is made better for Spike by making sure every activity feels fun and rewarding.

“It has to be interesting for the dog,” La Rose said, “he needs to feel productive.”

Activities include searches throughout the airport, and sometimes aboard aircraft and checked baggage areas. A lot of the work is what La Rose calls “cutting the wake” — walking past crowds as the dog sniffs through the wafted scents, kind of like going through the wake of a boat.

The dogs smell in ingredients, Daniel La Rose said. A lot of lotions, makeup and perfumes share some chemical elements with explosives, so La Rose warned that passengers wearing heavy perfume for their plane trip may attract the attention of explosives dogs.

Spike needs frequent stimulation. La Rose said it looks easy, but the daily job is a lot of work finding ways to keep the dog constantly positive and active.

Sometimes the Spike will be taken through areas where dummies are planted for the dog to find, to keep him training and to earn playtime with La Rose. The dogs work for play, La Rose explained, not treats. Every day is a game of hide and seek, with a few minutes playing with a tennis ball or a loving pat on the head the reward for a job well done.

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Morning Notes

Body Found in Submerged SUV — “Authorities were working Monday night to recover a body inside an SUV submerged in the Potomac River [near Roosevelt Island]… D.C. Fire & EMS said they found tire tracks leading into the river and divers were able to locate the SUV by 6 p.m. Monday. Sources confirmed to News4 that a body was trapped inside.” [NBC Washington]

Clarendon Beer Garden May Open Next Month — “The 22,000-square-foot space, dubbed The Lot… [is] anticipating an early June opening, pending final permit approvals, with plans to incorporate drinking games, picnic seating, and tacos.” [Eater]

UMD Coming to Crystal City? — “The University of Maryland is scouting out potential sites in Crystal City, where it could potentially help to feed Amazon.com Inc.’s long-term plans to hire at least 25,000 workers to support its second headquarters. The state’s flagship university is in the market for between 20,000 and 25,000 square feet to support the growth of HQ2, according to sources familiar with the situation.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Mosque Security Measures — “Members of an Arlington, Virginia, mosque are being trained on how to respond to an active shooter. Worshippers are learning how to take security measures to protect themselves and save the lives of others. The training follows mass shooting at houses of worship around the world.” [Voice of America, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

Nate Remnants Pushing Out — It has been a rainy and windy morning thanks to the remnants of what was once Hurricane Nate. The heaviest of the rain is over but it is expected to remain windy and humid during the day today, with a gale warning in effect until 6 p.m. for those on the water. [Twitter, Weather Channel]

Voter Registration Up This Cycle — Arlington County has processed twice the number of voter registration transactions between Labor Day and Oct. 6 this year as it did during the same period four years ago, according to elections chief Linda Lindberg. That suggests greater interest in this year’s statewide races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, though County Board and School Board races are also on the ballot. [InsideNova]

Arlington Schools Get Grant — Arlington is among the Virginia localities getting a grant for new school security equipment. Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Langston High School Continuation Program are together receiving $44,480 through the state program, put in place in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting in Connecticut. A total of $6 million is being divvied out to dozens of school systems, paying for “video monitoring systems, metal detectors, classroom locks, electronic-access controls, visitor-identification systems, direct communications links between schools and law enforcement agencies, and other security upgrades.” [Gov. Terry McAuliffe]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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A restaurant inside the Pentagon City Whole Foods is among those affected by a security breach to the company’s credit card system.

Whole Foods provided public notice that it “recently received information regarding unauthorized access of payment card information used at certain venues.”

The breach does not affect purchases within the regular Whole Foods grocery section, but rather at the taprooms and full-service restaurants inside some locations. Paper Horse, a ramen restaurant inside the Pentagon City Whole Foods, is one of the locations named in the security breach.

Whole Foods’ statement said it notified authorities and has launched an investigation. Customers who may have visited Paper Horse or one of the other affected locations listed online should monitor their credit card statements and contact their bank to report unauthorized charges.

Whole Foods also noted that its systems do not connect with those of its new parent company, Amazon, so purchases on Amazon.com are not involved.

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ACPD Preparing for NYE

Chooser Cruiser unveilingEven though Arlington doesn’t have any large, centrally-located New Year’s Eve celebration — like New York City’s ball drop in Times Square — local police are getting ready for a busier than usual night on Saturday.

Scanner traffic indicates that today officers are stopping at businesses that are holding celebrations tomorrow night. Police are doing preemptive safety checks, asking management about things like how many people each business expects for its celebration and how many employees or additional security staff will be present.

There are no known, specific threats to public safety in Arlington, according to police spokesman Capt. Bruce Benson, but ACPD will have extra officers in the Clarendon area on Saturday evening. Extra officers will also be on duty throughout the county to patrol for drunk drivers.

“We really want everyone to enjoy the New Year celebration in Arlington,” says Benson. “We certainly have some great restaurants and bars and invite everyone to take advantage of them, but we also ask everyone to be responsible and get home safely. There is no excuse to drive drunk.”

Police encourage everyone to pay attention to the message of the half-police cruiser, half-taxi Chooser Cruiser, currently stationed in Clarendon: Take advantage of the many safe options available for post-party transportation or you might find yourself in the back of a police car. Some options include using a designated driver, a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft, the free SoberRide taxi program (1-800-200-TAXI), and the free Metrorail and Metrobus rides after midnight Saturday.

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