Arlington County is taking steps toward making virtual meeting participation a post-pandemic option for residents, staff and local officials.

“We are all trying to figure out what worked really well about virtual engagement and adapting it,” County Board Vice Chair Katie Cristol tells ARLnow.

The board expects to transition back to in-person meetings in June or July, Cristol said. But hybrid formats, such as in-person board and commission meetings with virtual public comments, could be here to stay.

County staff are working on securing funding to expand virtual and hybrid meeting options as part of the three-year Capital Improvement Plan, which the County Board is slated to adopt in July. The plan includes $1 million for adding or enhancing audio and visual capabilities in conference rooms.

The upgrades would help broaden public participation, “making in-person meetings accessible virtually by others unable to participate” in-person, according to a staff presentation.

Last year, Gov. Ralph Northam issued an emergency order and legislators changed state law to allow for online government meetings during the pandemic. Legislation approved in March will allow local officials to be exempt from in-person meeting standards during emergencies declared by local governing bodies, in addition to ones declared by the governor.

State open-meeting laws also allow officials on an individual, limited basis to attend a meeting virtually in certain circumstances, such as a temporary disability or personal matter.

The new legislation is not as robust as some officials advocated for last year, however. County Board member Libby Garvey and other women in politics testified before the Virginia Freedom of Information Association Council — a state agency that helps resolve disputes over Freedom of Information issues — and signed a joint letter supporting more flexible rules governing virtual attendance for public officials.

Now, Arlington County officials are looking to keep some virtual meeting adaptations in place, noting that other governmental bodies benefited from gathering virtually.

Cristol said many people, including appointed commission members who aren’t compensated for their time, can face difficulties with participating in meetings when juggling children’s needs, work and other issues.

She said in an email that the capital improvement proposal would be a foundational step toward “being able to livestream every commission and committee meeting.”

Pre-pandemic, Arlington County live-streamed only key meetings, including those of the County Board, Planning Commission and Transportation Commission.

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A technology initiative to help Arlington emergency responders — by relying on the heat mapping of crowds — is expected to ramp up next month.

The pilot program looks to equip streetlights with sensors on the 2900 block of Wilson Blvd, feeding information to county emergency operations staff and allowing them to monitor potential incidents while helping first responders.

“This means that emergency responders will have more information and more knowledge about an event when arriving upon a situation,” Holly Hartell, assistant chief information officer for strategic initiatives with Arlington County, said in an email.

The sensors won’t provide images of individuals but instead will help with counting people, bicycles and vehicles, according to the county. The devices in the pilot will also be able to gather changes in temperature, relative humidity and air quality, the county says.

Sketch images will be gathered during a one-week testing period to compare actual crowd sizes to an algorithm connected to the sensors, but no images will be captured after that time, Hartell said.

The sensors will be on a wireless network, and non-visual metadata will be anonymized, aggregated and eventually sent to the county’s Open Data Portal and Emergency Operations Center watch desk, a room next to the county’s main dispatch floor that’s typically used for monitoring larger events.

Hartell said the installation and testing of the sensors are scheduled for mid- to late-June. Information gathered by the sensors could be shared on the county’s Open Data Portal as early as this fall.

The project initially considered gathering other kinds of data, such as logging information from nearby Bluetooth-enabled devices like mobile phones, but decided on optical sensors to maximize privacy protection, a county FAQ guide says.

“Arlington County has ownership and full authority over what data is collected,” the county noted in the FAQ.

The county says the technology could improve medical and other public safety response times, as well as awareness of erratic and unexpected incidents.

The project comes through a partnership with Comcast, the nonprofit U.S. Ignite and the state-funded Commonwealth Cyber Initiative.

“To launch the demonstration project, the County is accepting a donation of approximately $90,000 from the project partners,” the county said. “The County’s estimated contribution to the project is $13,601 for contractual services needed to mount and maintain the proposed light fixtures throughout the demonstration project.”

The yearlong demo could also help county officials consider using the technology at other locations in the future.

Photo 1 via Google Maps, photo 2 via Arlington County

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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 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn.

The landscape for tech jobs is changing, according to a new study from the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

Although California still enjoys the No. 1 position for job postings, it is losing jobs while openings surge from Texas to Florida.

Virginia continues to hold its own as a hub for tech talent and jobs, coming in fourth for overall tech jobs and Artificial Intelligence jobs posted in March. Job postings increased enough from February to land the Commonwealth in the sixth, while it ranks eighth for work-from-home positions.

“While Virginia does not rank among the states with the highest tech industry employment growth rates over the past five years, this is largely due to the fact that the Commonwealth of Virginia already has a very large tech industry,” Suzanne Clark, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, said. “States that have seen the most spectacular growth in tech industry employment are by and large ones that began with very small tech industries.

Clark said the organization wants to see more economic diversification in the form of more private sector — as opposed to public sector — tech jobs.

“Much of Virginia’s underperformance in tech sector growth is attributable to our over-reliance on the federal government for tech sector jobs,” she said.

Arlington is doing its part to sustain Virginia’s tech job growth, according to Arlington Economic Development. The county’s tech industry is expected to stay ahead of the growth of the tech industry nationwide over the next five years, said Kirby Clark, a spokeswoman for AED.

“Arlington maintains its competitive edge for tech talent with its highly educated workforce, above-average millennial workforce participation, a cluster of higher education institutions and proximity to innovative government agencies,” she said.

Arlington’s tech industry grew by 19.3% from 2015 to 2020, nearly 4% more than the national average. It is expected to grow by 15.6% over the next five years, compared to the expected national growth of 14.7%, the AED spokeswoman said.

Last year, Arlington’s top industries included computer systems services and technical consulting services, sectors she said are poised to continue growing.

Many of the employers with the most job postings in March have headquarters or prominent outposts in Arlington: business and tech consulting group Deloitte has a space in Rosslyn, Amazon is moving into its HQ2 in Pentagon City, consulting group Accenture has three spaces in the county, including a cybersecurity center, while another consulting group, ICF International, has an outpost in Crystal City.

The local Deloitte office is also driving a 361-position increase in AI jobs in Arlington, with its recent announcement that it will launch a new AI research center to advance federal work, Clark said.

“Demand for AI professionals has grown substantially since 2017, when there were 165 total AI jobs posted in Arlington,” she said. “Fast-forward to 2020, there were 1,172 AI jobs posted in Arlington.”

The VEDP spokeswoman said the demand for people with AI skills in Virginia during the past year was more than twice the national average.

Nationwide, thousands of tech jobs are remote opportunities, and Kirby Clark said AED is dedicated to ensuring Arlington remains an attractive place to work from home.

“Many employers intend to adopt a hybrid work model following the pandemic, making Arlington well-positioned to remain a hub for companies by enabling them to offer an attractive home and work environment in a single setting,” Clark said. “Whether working at an office or home, Arlington will continue to provide an outstanding quality of life that attracts people to live here.”

The VEDP spokeswoman, meanwhile, said the organization expects hybrid to be the new norm as well, which could help lift up the state as a whole, not just its large metro areas.

“Capitalizing on tech telework positions is also an important opportunity for rural and small metro regions that might not have been first in line to land tech jobs in the past,” Clark said.

Charts via CompTIA 

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Morning Notes

Ballston Company’s IPO Soars — “Privia Health Group, which provides technology and services to physician practices, began trading Thursday on the Nasdaq and saw its share price jump in early trading — and stay there. Shares closed at $34.75 per share, up 51 percent from its opening share price of $23, with just over 10 million shares traded.” [Crunchbase]

Ambulance Crash in N. Arlington — “Crash involving an ambulance (not ACFD) at Old Dominion Drive & Lorcom Lane. @ArlingtonVaFD & @ArlingtonVAPD on the scene.” [Twitter]

New Hire for County Retirement System — “After a nationwide search, the Arlington County Employees’ Retirement System (ACERS) has selected Susie Ardeshir as Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer. The appointment is effective July 6, 2021. Ms. Ardeshir has more than 15 years of investment management experience. Before joining ACERS, she was the investments director at a public university system in California.” [Arlington County]

Grants to Nat’l Landing Merchants — “The National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) teamed up with Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) to provide $100,000 in relief funding to 30 businesses as part of their “Love Local” campaign. Funds are allocated evenly across the eligible National Landing establishments to help cover necessary operator-related expenses including rent and employee wages.” [Press Release]

VHC Doc, Nurses Honored — “Virginia Hospital Center… is pleased to announce Michael Silverman, MD, FACEP, chair of emergency medicine, was recently selected as one of five 2020 Facility Medical Directors of the Year by Alteon Health [and] five members of the nursing team were selected by Washingtonian Magazine to receive Excellence in Nursing Awards.” [Press Release]

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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 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn.

When Megan Gray was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 23, doctors told her she could never drive again.

She had to get rides from family and friends or hail Uber and Lyft drivers. Forgetting something at the grocery store meant more hassle than returning was worth and calling a car got expensive.

“Becoming epileptic changed my life,” Gray said. “People don’t realize how important driving is until you need it and can no longer do it.”

Rather than give up her independence, however, she decided to create a technology that could help her. Once she did, Gray founded Moment AI, which is developing an artificial intelligence system that can detect, monitor and analyze human health abnormalities that occur on the road.

“Moment AI can change the way drivers drive by providing the vehicle with more knowledge than it ever has had before about the driver’s health,” she said. “Our algorithms are made to adapt to the unique drivers in the U.S. Our goal is to provide more access to driving to people who have disorders.”

Gray tinkered in her 500-square foot apartment with technology she bought from Amazon using money she made playing poker. Her circle of epileptic friends tested out her technology along the way.

Once she established her company and brought on a co-founder, Gray said investors took notice. Within a year, SoftBank — the multinational Japanese company that runs the world’s largest venture capital fund (and famously invested big in WeWork) — backed her.

Another high-profile investor is Nvidia Corporation, which helped to develop the AI technology in Tesla vehicles.

And now, Moment AI is partnering with Samer Hamdar, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the George Washington University, to create a prototype of an in-vehicle AI system that could detect the start of a health problem, take control of the car and guide the car and driver safely to the side of the road.

“Mobility and certain core services should be available to all people, including those with health problems and demanding work environments,” Hamdar said in a press release. “Moment AI is a special project: it showcases the need for transportation equity and builds on a personal story to launch an academic-industry partnership that may have a significant impact on the lives of many in need.”

Now, Gray and her team have access to vehicles, simulators and graduate students to develop this potentially life-saving tech. Hamdar and his team will use driving simulators to create images and videos to train AI systems to predict and detect fatigue, seizures, strokes and heart attacks.

“We literally went from my living room to a WeWork in Arlington and now, a research lab in D.C.,” she said. “It has been pretty fast-paced.” Moment AI is headquartered at the WeWork in Rosslyn, after moving from the Crystal City WeWork, which recently closed.

Gray is also working on a way to get the tech into existing cars for those who cannot afford a new car with built-in AI.

The founder and CEO is the first woman and first African American to partner with the GWU transportation lab. In addition to breaking down such barriers, she is particularly proud that a record number of graduate candidates applied to work on her project with Hamdar.

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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 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn.

After several years of quietly building, a local IT management company — temporarily leaning into cybersecurity — is enjoying huge gains.

C3 Integrated Solutions, which helps government contractors use Microsoft cloud solutions, saw 172% growth over the last two years. According to the company, located in Rosslyn, those numbers make C3 the fastest-growing IT management company in Arlington.

Inc. Magazine ranked it the 69th fastest-growing company in the D.C. region for 2020 and ranked it among the top 2,000 companies nationally.

“I’ve been joking that it’s an overnight success 13 years in the making,” co-founder and president Bill Wootton said. And those numbers are for growth in 2019.

“2020 ended up being an even better year for us,” Wootton said. “Even with COVID-19, we had our best year ever last year, and this year, with some of the new services and solutions we’re about ready to roll out, we’re going to keep going in the same direction — up and up.”

C3 Integrated Solutions started a decade ago while Wootton and co-founder Kevin Lucier, an Arlington native, worked for cable and telecommunications company RCN. They wanted to give clients outside-the-box solutions and decided to start a company that would do just that.

When they took the plunge, however, they struggled to stay afloat in a mature industry crowded with similar companies. Three years in, Microsoft cloud services went online, which they saw as a lifeline.

Listening to some clients talk about the cloud, Wootton and Lucier saw a new opportunity and decided to jump ship. But there was one problem: neither had IT experience.

The duo hired people with the right expertise, including Kevin’s brother James — as well as long-time IT veteran Jason Tierney — and C3 Integrated Solutions was (re)born.

C3 focused on providing IT services to nearby companies, which, in Arlington, meant many of their clientele were defense contractors. That incidental relationship proved a huge boon to C3 a decade later when it found a new market to enter: cybersecurity.

Today, the company also helps government contractors keep their companies secure while meeting changing cybersecurity regulations. C3 is taking advantage of new cybersecurity regulations for defense contractors that the government codified in November, which Wootton and Lucier saw coming four years ago.

“We’ve been a mover in this particular solution set for three to four years now, and it’s just now starting to get mainstream recognition,” Wootton said. “We have a track record in an area where people are just realizing there’s a market shift.”

These regulations will take five years to roll out just for the defense industry, he said. The government is looking to expand these requirements to other departments, which means C3 is poised to ride this wave for a while.

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This year, local Democrats can cast a ballot electronically from home for the upcoming Arlington County Democratic Committee School Board endorsement caucus.

From Monday, May 17 through Sunday, May 23, registered voters will be able to vote for one of two Democratic school board candidates securely from their computers, tablets or smartphones. Arlington Dems will provide assistance over the phone and two days of in-person voting help as well.

Registered voters will decide who Arlington Dems endorse in the Nov. 2 general election. Candidates are vying for the seat currently held by School Board Chair Monique O’Grady, who announced in January she will not seek re-election. Attorney Miranda Turner, and Mary Kadera, vice president of the Arlington County Council of PTAs, will be on the Arlington Dems’ caucus ballot.

According to local Democratic leadership, online voting is one way the organization looks to mitigate health risks during the pandemic.

“We’re excited to now be able to offer a secure and scalable Internet-based ballot delivery option that allows voters to eliminate or greatly reduce their exposure to COVID-19 as the nationwide vaccination effort continues,” said Alex Zins, Arlington Democrats School Board Caucus Director. “We strongly encourage all voters who can to take advantage of this electronic voting option to do so.”

The voting platform will be open 24/7 and the local party is encouraging Democrats with less reliable or no internet access to make use of the county’s online resources. It will provide in-person assistance to those who need help or do not have internet access.

This expansion is funded by a $59,000 grant from the nonprofit National Cybersecurity Center, which raises cyber awareness in the public and private sectors. Arlington Dems will be using Democracy Live, which leadership described as the largest provider of mobile and cloud-based voting technologies in the U.S.

Arlington will be the second jurisdiction in the D.C. area to partner with Democracy Live, which facilitated elections in 21 states last November.

“With this innovation, Arlington Dems continues to lead our community through the pandemic,” Arlington Democrats Chair Jill Caiazzo said. “By bringing electronic voting to the county, with a focus on digital equity, we will offer even more Arlingtonians easy, secure access to one of the most fundamental rights Americans exercise, while also reducing the risk of COVID-19 infections that the country continues to battle.”

Should Arlington Dems receive a grant again, the organization would “definitely” consider using such a platform in the future, she added.

Local party leadership emphasized the security of the system. Amazon Web Services hosts Democracy Live’s platform in the same cloud environment approved by the Dept. of Defense, Dept. Homeland Security and the FBI.

“The Democracy Live platform has never been compromised by hackers,” Arlington Dems said, adding that the software also produces PDF copies of ballots to leave a paper trail.

The platform could help reach underrepresented communities, Zins said. Ballots will be available in multiple languages and Democracy Live’s platform complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

This time last year, when Arlington Dems held a caucus for two open School Board seats during stay-at-home orders, the group organized the first-of-its-kind mail-in endorsement caucus, which brought in around 5,700 ballots.

More details will be available online on the Arlington Democrats School Board caucus website as additional logistics are confirmed. Party leaders say they will conduct social media and outreach campaigns to spread the word about the new system.

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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 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn.

The finish line is in sight for a Clarendon-based startup that has developed a wearable breathing sensor called Respa.

Zansors, located at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, has created an inch-square device that connects to a mobile app, showing wearers their breathing patterns. Originally created to help people screen themselves for sleep apnea from the comfort of their home, Zansors has also tailored the product to fit the needs of fitness enthusiasts who want additional data on their exercise.

The company has been around nearly nine years, during which time the product has gone through research and development and has been beset by engineering and developmental delays, said co-founder Abhijit Dasgupta. Now, Zansors is in the final stages of developing the app and connecting it to the device.

“We’re looking forward to ramping up this spring and getting out the door in the summer,” Dasgupta said. “It’s obviously a good feeling that we’re in the final stretch. It’s a lot of work, effort and sweat equity. The hiccups have been frustrating, but we’re just trying to hammer it home.”

Dasgupta, who has a doctorate in biostatistics and previously worked in medical research, said the idea for a wearable breathing sensor came from seeing how common — but under-detected — sleep apnea is.

“To create a device that can allow you to detect it at home, you wouldn’t have to get wired up, and spend the night in a foreign bed,” Dasgupta said. “We felt sleep studies weren’t reflective of your own sleep experience.”

The wearable sensor detects how sleepers move and breathe and warns doctors of abnormal patterns, he said. But Respa is a screening product, not a diagnostic one, he said.

Over time, Zansors started looking into other areas where breath and motion are synced, and made it work for athletes and fitness buffs.

“It’s the same device, leveraged in different ways,” he said.

Dasgupta and his team have other ideas for repurposing the product for respiratory diseases, something at the forefront of their minds due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Although it has become fodder for future development, the pandemic has also hurt Zansors’ ability to travel, meet buyers and clients and raise investment money, Dasgupta said. When personal protective equipment was hard to come by, Zansors pivoted to selling high-quality masks with filters, which it sold to several U.S. Army and Air Force bases, he said. Now that PPE is easier to find again, Zansors has refocused on the Respa.

The company is also in active talks about possible military usage of the device, Dasgupta said.

“There are plenty of ideas out there but we need to get this out the door so that we can put this in the ‘done’ column,” he said.

Initially, most of Zansors’ work was funded by the National Institutes of Health, through its Small Business Innovation Research grant program, as well as a few investors in Northern Virginia. The Arlington community specifically has been supportive of Zansors, Dasgupta said.

“I think it’s great that we’re in Arlington,” Dasgupta said. “Arlington is a great place to center a business because there’s so much going on: There’s so much networking and the business development groups are good.”

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For the past year, Arlington Public Schools students have been learning from home to varying degrees of success.

As of this morning (Tuesday), all grade levels have access to two days a week of in-person instruction. Some have struggled during remote learning — as is evidenced by dropping GPAs and rising rates of students failing classes. But others, according to APS officials, are excelling.

“We know right now that some students are really thriving in this virtual environment so we want to be able to keep that option open to those students,” said Sarah Putnam, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for APS, during a virtual open house last month.

For these middle- and high-school students, virtual learning — either hybrid or full-time — could be an option as early as the 2022-23 school year. The program could be located in the revamped Education Center at 1426 N. Quincy Street, the former APS administrative building next to Washington-Liberty High School.

Extending virtual and hybrid learning options for secondary-level students beyond the pandemic could help relieve some school capacity pressures, instructional leaders and School Board members say. It would also leverage existing technology investments while letting students pursue extracurricular opportunities and, potentially, take more classes to accelerate their learning or recover credits.

“We’re really excited about this idea,” said Jonathan Turrisi, the Director of Strategic Planning for APS, during the same open house.

School staff are still working through the logistics. If the School Board approves this option, it would not start until next fall at the earliest.

More information will be presented to the School Board on April 8. Members have indicated an interest in long-term virtual learning.

“The School Board believes virtual school is an important consideration to factor into long-term planning, given that many students have been successful in distance learning,” members told ARLnow in a joint statement. They said APS will still need to examine numerous factors to see what such a program would look like and if the school system can afford it.

One of those factors would be if it is appropriate for middle-schoolers, Board Member David Priddy said during a February meeting.

“From being around middle schoolers, I’m not sure if the virtual piece would align with that many middle schoolers just simply because their social-emotional needs are different,” he said. “I guess we can throw that out to the public to decide.”

The program would likely be located on one floor the Education Center, which could accommodate 100-300 students, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Bridget Loft said at the February meeting.

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Local business development leaders say Arlington can compete with the emerging tech hubs of Austin and Miami.

Those cities are attracting some Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and companies in search of a lower cost of living and doing business. Last year, Austin made deals with 39 companies, and Miami saw an influx of venture capital dollars and firms.

But local cheerleaders of Arlington in general — and National Landing in particular — say the area is on par with these hubs because it has an educated workforce, plenty of office space, Amazon’s HQ2, continuous 5G service, and recruiting opportunities from area universities.

“I would love for our government leaders to be talking more aggressively about this,” said Ken Biberaj, a managing director of commercial real estate company Savills, during a recent panel discussion about National Landing, hosted by Arlington Economic Development. “I think they should be on TV every single day talking about why they should be coming here.”

The suggestion is that Arlington needs someone like charismatic Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who is leading a campaign to attract businesses and support tech entrepreneurs. Suarez is noted for regularly speaking with CEOs who have chosen Miami.

So, does Arlington and National Landing compare to those two buzzy, sunny locales? Aside from the weather, some real estate analysts say yes.

“I think definitely the pieces are there and having Amazon as an asset is a really great thing,” said Eric Maribojoc, the Director of the Center for Real Estate Entrepreneurship at the George Mason University School of Business.

Like Austin, Arlington also has the “urban-like” amenities that could attract companies, he added.

With its talent base and focus on regulatory tech and cybersecurity companies, Northern Virginia as a whole has already achieved parity, said Phil Ryan, the Director of Research at commercial real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).

“You need to grow more in the ‘flashier’ tech, for lack of a better word,” he said of the region. “I think National Landing is trying to get [better] at the visibility. People think Austin is techy because they’re louder about it.”

Although Arlington’s key tech sectorscloud, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence — are not as consumer-facing as a Facebook or a Tesla, those sectors could drive tech growth in the region as JLL predicts they will flourish under President Joe Biden.

Ryan cautioned against seeing the reports of migration to Austin, Miami and elsewhere as proof that Silicon Valley is experiencing a brain drain. Although some tech workers may want a lifestyle change and to avoid higher California income taxes, most are staying in the Bay Area while back-office operations and executive suites are relocated.

Although Northern Virginia checks companies’ boxes for talent, education systems and transit connectivity, it has been “sold short,” Ryan said. Despite being a business-friendly state with relatively moderate taxes , Virginia has to compete with Texas and Florida’s lack of income tax while vying for corporate relocations against — rather than in cooperation with — D.C. and Maryland.

“For years, [it] was considered a big problem that there wasn’t one unified agency to get people into the area,” Ryan said.

Still, Arlington is nabbing and retaining businesses, making 24 deals in 2020, Arlington Economic Development reports.

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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.

Last spring, Kapil Thangavelu and Travis Stanfield quit their tech jobs to launch Stacklet and help companies secure and manage their cloud networks.

Then the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic.

“Markets were in free fall and companies did not know what to do,” said Thangavelu, an Arlington local who founded Cloud Custodian, a popular open-source solution for securing and managing cloud systems, while working at Capital One.

Six months later, Stacklet — which builds on Cloud Custodian and provides professional services that an open-source project cannot — was starting paying off. The Clarendon-based company had raised $4 million in funding in August.

Last month, investors pitched in $18 million. Stanfield said that money will help realize his goal for 2021: to raise the company’s public profile. With the funding, the co-founders plan to hire more staff in engineering, marketing, sales and customer success and publicize the existence of Stacklet.

The company is backed by prominent investors, including renowned venture capitalist Lee Fixel, who has also backed Spotify and Peloton, and Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Foundation Capital. In this round of funding, Stacklet also gained a new individual investor: Liam Randall.

Randall is an Arlington local who “believe[s] in Stacklet so much [he] joined the company.” He was most recently the vice president of software innovation at Capital One.

The forced remote work of 2020 has accelerated the need among companies to transition their software and services to the cloud, and many are turning to Cloud Custodian, which means investors are turning their sights on Stacklet, Randall said. That is because Stacklet gives companies the extra support and features Cloud Custodian cannot, Stanfield said.

Open source is amazing, and the best way to develop certain kinds of software, but open source does not solve some of the real, material concerns that enterprises have,” the Stacklet co-founder said. “They want to know that they have a team that they can work with that prioritizes their needs.”

If the cloud is a metaphorical road in terms of what it enables users to do with their computing vehicles, Stacklet provides the guardrails, Randall said.

“We help people to know that they can use the cloud safely without accidentally driving off the cliff,” he said. “The cloud does let you configure things how you want them, and frequently, there are accidental configuring errors that lead to security implications, governance implications and cost implications.”

Often, Thangavelu added, cloud security relies on companies and employees “making the right choices all the time,” as physical security relies on people not forgetting to lock their doors.

But sometimes, people forget and do things online that could compromise a company’s cloud network.

“Whatever accidents happen, Cloud Custodian and Stacklet ensure the overall organization and customers’ data are secure,” as well as cost-efficient and well-managed, Thangavelu said.

One year ago, Stanfield said he and Thangavelu were nervous about the future, taking on a huge risk as the world was shutting down to combat the coronavirus.

Instead, this past year contained the moments that Stanfield said “have given us the confidence that this is good.”

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