It might seem odd that the consulting firm Accenture would open a second Arlington office in Rosslyn, just a 10-minute drive from its current location in Ballston and a brief Metro ride away from its office in D.C.
But company executives believe Arlington’s pool of talented tech workers is so deep that such a move makes perfect sense — and state leaders are hoping tech giants from Apple to Amazon are similarly swayed by the strength of the county’s workforce.
Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) helped Accenture christen its new “cyber fusion center” inside the new CEB Tower at Central Place (1201 Wilson Blvd) today (Wednesday), hailing the company for its plans to create 1,000 high-paying tech jobs in the D.C. region by 2020.
Marty Rodgers, Accenture’s metro D.C. office managing director, says the firm ultimately plans to have 4,500 employees at its Arlington locations alone, and they’ll have plenty of company. As of last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that more than 17,000 people in Arlington work in IT-focused jobs, and Rodgers adds that 185 cybersecurity startups in the area won outside funding in 2017.
Observers have speculated that those numbers are part of why Jeff Bezos and Tim Cook are eyeing Arlington so closely for expansion. Northam hopes they’re right.
“I’ve always been a big believer that if we bring talent to the area, talent will attract other talent,” Northam told reporters Wednesday. “We’ve made that pitch and we’re excited about that opportunity, and we’ve had those discussions with Amazon. But whether it’s Amazon or Apple or any other company, in order for them to grow or come here, we’ve got to be able to train our workforce.”
Northam credits his predecessor, ex-Gov. Terry McAuliffe, for putting a focus on tech training programs at both the higher education level and in K-12 schools. But it also helps that many of those workers have gained experience in the area’s bevy of federal government tech jobs, making them even more attractive to companies like Accenture that do plenty of business in D.C.
“This is where all the talent is,” Rodgers said. “You need people who have that combination of experiences, with for-profits, with nonprofits, with government.”
Rodgers noted that those sorts of employees will be particularly important at the company’s new Rosslyn center. It’s designed as not only a cybersecurity research hub, but also as a meeting space for Accenture to help its clients, from governments to massive corporations, investigate cyberattacks in real time.
Accenture executives demonstrated for the gathered elected officials and journalists how the company might educate an oil and gas company about how to prevent a phishing attack on a refinery. After hackers tried, and failed, to blow up a Saudi Arabian refinery by breaking in to a company’s networks via a fraudulent email, company officials warned that such a scenario isn’t terribly far-fetched.
Rodgers believes the center will even be innovative enough to help the D.C. region become the top global destination for cybersecurity companies.
“This region is fundamental to cybersecurity for the country and the world,” Rodgers said. “This is a mantle we hope this cybersecurity fusion center can claim here, as compared to Silicon Valley.”
FBI Renews Search for Hotel Rapist — A cold case is getting hotter as the FBI steps up the search for a man who raped hotel employees in the D.C. area, including in Arlington, between 1998 and 2006. Authorities still don’t know who the suspect is, but in a first for the region, the man’s DNA profile has been indicted for the crime. [FBI, NBC Washington, WTOP]
‘Unaccompanied Minors’ Housed at Local Facility? — “The feds may use a local juvenile detention center to house some of the nearly 2,000 children they’ve separated from their parents at the Mexican border. Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg said she’s expressed ‘strong concerns’ with the board that runs the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center, which has a contract to hold as many as 30 unaccompanied minors. The detention center is jointly run by Alexandria and Arlington.” [WUSA 9]
ACPD Helps Kid’s Dream Come True — “After over 900 days in foster care, Cameron’s wish came true when he found his forever family. During last week’s @Capitals visit, we were able to help him with his 2nd wish-touching the #StanleyCup! Today he stopped by to thank Officer Rihl for helping make his dream a reality!” [Twitter]
Local Tech Firm Signs Rosslyn Lease — As expected after being selected for a $60,000 Gazelle grant from Arlington County earlier this year, local tech firm Higher logic has signed a lease and is moving employees into a new 31,000 square foot headquarters space at Waterview Tower (1919 N. Lynn Street) in Rosslyn. The company, which makes community engagement software, acquired four companies last year. The new office offers “floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Potomac River, an open, collaborative environment, and much needed room to expand.” [Washington Business Journal]
Firefighters Help Cool Kids Down — Earlier this week, with sweltering temperatures putting a damper on outdoor activities, an Arlington County fire engine helped Patrick Henry Elementary students cool down during their field day. [Twitter]
ACFD Trains for Water Rescues — The Arlington County Fire Department has a water rescue team, and before yesterday’s rains the team was training in the rapids at Great Falls. [Twitter]
Arlington County will host a community event on June 6th to discuss how technology will impact the future of work. Tell us what you think.
For the past two years, Arlington County has been named the Top Digital County in the nation by the Center for Digital Government and National Association of Counties.
A cornerstone of this recognition has been Arlington’s initiative to envision the County’s future through its Defining Arlington’s Digital Destiny campaign.
Arlington’s Digital Destiny is an ongoing series that brings together a broad and diverse group of residents, businesses, technologists and members of the not for profit and higher education communities to discuss what the future might hold for Arlington.
The Digital Destiny series has focused on mobility and transit, learning, aging independently, energy sustainability, and security and privacy in a digital world, among other topics.
These conversations have been a foundation for Arlingtonians to raise awareness of the impact technology will have on their community and to share different perspectives that can serve as guideposts for future visioning and strategic planning.
If you’ve missed some of the earlier discussions, you still have a chance to take part in a new talk titled The Future of Work in Arlington on June 6 at the Arlington Central Library (1015 N Quincy Street).
Panelists for this event will include Anne Khademian, presidential fellow at Virginia Tech; Dr. Yahya Shaihk, an associate at Johns Hopkins University and senior consultant at Connected Health, FCC; Jason Drake, a manager for training and organizational development at Arlington County Government; and Steve Kenny, regional VP at Gartner, LLC.
Guests can arrive at 6 p.m. for networking and light refreshments. The panel and breakout discussions will kick off at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome. Simply register to attend or join us live via Twitter.
Internet connections are down across all Arlington Public Schools.
Both the internet and email systems are experiencing an extended outage, APS announced Monday afternoon. The outage is not expected to be resolved before the end of the school day, APS said.
APS spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow that the school system’s internet vendor is experiencing problems, and they believe that “some cables were cut somewhere.” He added that there’s no timetable for the problem to be fixed.
Anyone who needs to reach school staff is being to encouraged to call rather than email.
We are currently experiencing a system-wide internet and email outage. Our internet provider has identified the problem but does not believe that it will be restored before the end of the day. If you need to reach school-based staff, please call the school directly.
— Arlington Schools (@APSVirginia) May 7, 2018
L.A. Bar and Grill Reopening — After closing for renovations (and because it was late in renewing its state alcohol license) Columbia Pike watering hole L.A. Bar and Grill is planning to reopen this weekend, just in time for Cinco de Mayo. [Facebook, Facebook]
The D.C. Case for the Rosslyn Gondola — “The Gondola will provide anyone within the Metro catchment area a faster trip to Georgetown. With the Gondola, the total travel time to Georgetown drops to less than 30 minutes for a much larger part of the region, including areas of the District with the greatest need for employment opportunities, giving them a faster way to connect with jobs in Georgetown.” [D.C. Policy Center]
Petition Against iPads in Middle School Cafeterias — An online petition, signed by nearly 100 people, seeks to have Arlington Public Schools strengthen its rules regarding iPad use in middle schools. Specifically, the signers want iPads to be used in classrooms and not during lunchtime or recess. Such a policy, the petition creators wrote, would “ensure that APS electronic resources enhance, and do not detract from, the learning process of middle school students.” [Change.org]
More ART Arrival Info Issues — Once again, Arlington Transit is having problems with its real-time bus arrival system. Officials told ARLnow.com that a technical issue with the contractor that provides the system was to blame. [Twitter]
Native Plant Sale This Weekend — The Long Branch Nature Center will host a sale of “plants that are accustomed to local climate and wildlife” on Saturday afternoon. [Arlington County]
Scott McGeary Lauded — “Decades ago, Scott McGeary’s parents would take him to occasional celebratory dinners at the Key Bridge Marriott, where they would enjoy both the food and the vistas of the nation’s capital… On May 2, McGeary was again at the hotel, this time in the 14th-floor ballroom as he was inducted into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame.” [InsideNova]
Four Mile Run Dye Testing — Arlington County is conducting dye testing along S. Four Mile Run Drive today. Traces of green and red dye may be seen in Four Mile Run as a result. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Arvaye Robinson, the mother of two elementary school girls she had hoped to enroll in the Arlington Public Schools extended day program, stood in front of the Syphax Education Center this morning during the system’s technical problems that ultimately suspended sign-up indefinitely.
“I’m so disappointed,” Robinson said, exasperated, with her phone in her hand waiting to hear from a school staffer. “I wanted some confirmation.”
After setting an alarm for exactly 7:59 a.m. so she could hop online and enroll her children, Robinson realized that the site was down and that she would have to drive to the center to enroll her children in person. She was told that she would receive a call about placement, but she didn’t feel confident about that.
“They have the means to take payment, but no concrete confirmation,” said Robinson.
A father who overheard ARLnow interviewing Robinson cut into the conversation, calling the situation absurd and saying that it had thrown his work schedule out the window for the second year in a row.
Indeed, this is the second consecutive year that extended day registration has flopped. There are varying reports of exactly how many parents waited in line to secure a spot for their children, but one parent told ARLnow she saw at least 100 people in the Syphax Education Center’s lobby this morning.
The extended day program allows parents “who can’t juggle everything” to leave children in their school’s care before and after classes, according to the program’ director, Bobby Kaplow.
According to Kaplow, after last year’s technical failure with the same vendor, APS spent the year troubleshooting with the contractor, trying to find a solution.
“All year we worked with him, we told him what we needed, we told him what the problem was, can he see it on his end,” Kaplow said, adding that he had demanded that the contractor fly in from Michigan to be on-site for the enrollment rollout today in case any issues cropped up.
“I talked to him 20 minutes before it started today, and said, ‘Are we good?'” Kaplow said. The contractor told the director that there wouldn’t be any problems.
The Arlington School Board could soon overhaul the school division’s policy governing how students use electronic devices in classrooms.
Arlington Public Schools officials presented a new version of technology “acceptable use” guidelines for the board to consider on April 19. The policy would create a new set of standards around how students use their own devices in schools, as well as equipment provided by APS.
Though APS has long relied on guidelines governing how students and teachers can use electronic devices and the internet, school staff are in the midst of a wholesale revision of those policies to keep up with advances in technology.
The proposed acceptable use policy for students stipulates that the use of devices is a “privilege, not a right,” and lays out the division’s process for handling incidents where students use electronic devices in inappropriate ways.
“In essence, if you can’t do something off of technology, you can’t do it in technology,” Tara Nattrass, Arlington’s assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, told the board.
The proposed policy also sets limits on how APS can collect student data through electronic devices. Specifically, the document bars APS from collecting “unnecessary personal information by means of its website” and directs the division to only take in data “only to the extent necessary to serve its constituents and the community.”
However, the policy does still allow school officials to archive, read and monitor any content generated on APS-owned devices or networks.
Nattrass stressed to the board that this acceptable use policy does not address issues like screen time limits for younger students or the use of devices at home. However, she noted that officials do plan to release more information on those issues later this summer, and some on the board heartily encouraged Nattrass to keep the community apprised of that process.
“I need to know when the rest of this is going to get done and where this is going to be,” said school board member Nancy Van Doren.
The board is set to vote on the draft policy on May 3.
Someone placed a mannequin alongside a busy road near Ballston this morning.
The female mannequin was wearing a knit hat, a t-shirt and a sign about being a “DoD based experiment,” a tipster told ARLnow. It was placed at the corner of N. Wakefield Street and N. Carlin Springs Road.
The sign on it referenced Secure Planet, a Ballston-based biometrics and facial recognition technology company. A phone number printed on the sign rings through to a company executive, though it was not answered when an ARLnow.com reporter called Friday afternoon.
At some point, someone placed another typed sign on the mannequin, criticizing the company for alleged privacy violations.
The mannequin, signs and all, appears to have been moved just before the end of the morning rush hour.
“Very bizarre,” the tipster concluded.
Update at 6:30 p.m. — The person who put the second sign on the mannequin discussed it on Twitter yesterday.
When the surveillance state enablers start using your street for selling their product. Mannequin on a tripod, left in the public right of way. "DoD Based Experiment – Please Do Not Disturb" So I called the number on the front. 1/ pic.twitter.com/DzSO3z7pgi
— Mark Blacknell (@Blacknell) April 19, 2018
[an address almost half a mile away], watching it."He says they're about to come pick it up, thanks for leaving it alone.
I gotta say, I'm a little conflicted about leaving it alone. This is a company that sells police/gov'ts the ability to do non-consensual face ID, at range 4/
— Mark Blacknell (@Blacknell) April 19, 2018
"This was placed here by people who treat your identity and privacy as if it were
to them to use and profit from.
It's a commercial demonstration of a product that will let law enforcement/governments/anyone who pays them identify people" 6/7
— Mark Blacknell (@Blacknell) April 20, 2018
Real-time arrival information for ART buses is suffering another outage today (April 5).
The outage comes less than a day after the service was restored from a separate, five-day outage.
Eric Balliet, an Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman, said that today’s outage was due to “intermittent connectivity issues.” He added that there is not an estimated restoration time at the moment.
The repeat outage comes the same day that commuters faced a major WMATA service disruption between the East Falls Church and Clarendon Metro stations. WMATA supplements the ART’s bus service, but is separately operated.
Arlington Transit’s real-time bus arrival information has been restored after being out of service for at least five days.
Arlington County said via Twitter that the ART arrival info was “temporarily unavailable due to technical problems.”
A request for more information relating to the cause of the outage was not immediately responded to by an Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesperson.
Without the arrival times, some riders said they were left waiting for buses that never came.
Much has been written about youth and their media consumption. In Arlington, they have an opportunity to be something more than just consumers — they can become media creators and generate their own high quality content.
Arlington Independent Media (AIM) has offered media training to the community since 1982. In addition to adult and teen programs, AIM offers spring break and summer camps for children as young as eight.
AIM’s Media Production camps are for youth ages 8-13. Working with expert instructors and media professionals, participants will develop story ideas, write scripts, shoot footage, record audio, act in and edit their own short productions. In the process, they will be introduced to the basic concepts of media literacy and critical thinking.
All camp sessions run Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and take place at AIM’s facility in Clarendon.
iPad Movie and Animation Camp
In this one week camp, students learn iPad movie making, stop motion animation and sound effect production while they create several short works.
Spring Break Session — March 26-30
Summer Session — August 6-10
Cost — $299.00
Summer Movie Camps
In this two-week camp, students learn to use professional equipment and work together to develop a story idea, and write, plan, shoot and edit a production that will premiere on the final day of camp.
Session 1 — June 25-July 6
Session 2 — July 9-July 20
Session 3 — July 23-August 3
Cost – $599.00
Radio Production Camp
Campers learn basic audio production, sound effect recording and on-air DJ-ing to create several live and pre-recorded radio programs for air on WERA 96.7FM including a scripted radio play with live Foley sound effects.
Summer Session — August 13-17
Cost — $299.00
For more information, visit www.ArlingtonMedia.org, or phone 703-524-2388.
GGW Boosts Gondola — “While [the proposed Georgetown-Rosslyn gondola] might not be the one, most important transportation project in the whole region, it’s a worthwhile way to help people reach jobs and shops and reduce single-passenger car trips.” [Greater Greater Washington]
USB E-Cig Banned at APS — “Schools in Arlington, Virginia, have specifically banned a new type of e-cigarette that has gained popularity among local teenagers: the Juul.” [WTOP]
‘Collision’ to Showcase N. Va. Tech — Arlington and Alexandria’s economic development agencies last week “announced their collaboration in showcasing the brightest and emerging startups on a national platform next month at one of the fastest growing tech conferences in the country.” [Alexandria News]
Beyer Unhappy With Military Helo Report — “A 400-page U.S. Army report on military-helicopter noise in the Washington area has failed to satisfy the member of Congress who authored legislative language requiring its compilation.” [InsideNova]
Snow Predicted for Arlington Tonight — “Expect a sloppy mix of precipitation that slowly transitions from rain to sleet to perhaps snow between early Tuesday morning and Wednesday afternoon.” [Capital Weather Gang]
ACFD Black History Month Tweets — The Arlington County Fire Department has been recounting the history of black firefighters in Arlington in commemoration of Black History Month. There were several African-American volunteer fire departments in the county during the first half of the 20th century, serving neighborhoods like Hall’s Hill and “Hell’s Bottom,” which was cleared to make way for the Pentagon during World War II. [Twitter, Twitter]
ARLnow Wins ‘Amazon Thirsty Thursday’ Recognition — Our scoop that an internal Amazon website devoted to its “HQ2” search steered thousands of visits to a two-month-old ARLnow article, has earned us the distinction of being named the “winner” of Washingtonian’s “Amazon Thirsty Thursday” weekly feature. Our article pointing out that Amazon has an office in Arlington was apparently the icing on the thirsty cake. [Washingtonian]
Arlington Among Top Places for Women in Tech — Arlington is tied with St. Paul, Minnesota as the No. 6 best place in the U.S. for women in tech. The District ranks No. 1. [WTOP]
Shamrock Shake Sighting — The Shamrock Shake is back at McDonald’s. We spotted it on the menu at a Lee Highway McD’s yesterday. Some locations have gotten the shake, a harbinger of spring, earlier than others, according to social media reports. [Fox News, Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
OpenWater, a company that develops a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution for award ceremonies such as the TONY and James Beard awards, has move its headquarters from the District to the Ballston neighborhood.
The 35-person company signed a seven year lease at 4401 Fairfax Drive and moved in earlier this year, according to a press release by the company. OpenWater previously resided in D.C. for 8 years and was able to expand its footprint by 120 percent as a result of the move.
The company was named one of Inc’s 5000 fastest growing companies in 2017 and reported $2.5 million in revenue in 2016. On top of providing management software for awards ceremonies, their software is also compatible for other application review processes such as selecting board members, grants and scholarships.
The company also plans to open up the new space for technology forums and networking events.
“OpenWater is a company that thrives on constant and consistent innovation, making them a perfect fit for the robust and fast-growing tech scene in Ballston,” said Tina Leone, CEO of the Ballston Business Improvement District, in a press release. “Ballston continues to lead the push for innovative technologies in the DC metro area because of companies like OpenWater and we are thrilled to have them in our neighborhood.”
Images via OpenWater
Highway Renaming Bill Fails — A bill from state Sen. Barbara Favola that would have allowed Arlington to rename Jefferson Davis Highway in the county failed to get out of committee on a 7-6 party line vote. The county will likely have to wait until next year’s legislative session to try again to get a bill passed. [InsideNova]
Snagajob Heading Toward IPO — “Arlington job management company Snagajob aims to raise up to $30 million, part of a strategy to reach $100 million in revenue this year to prepare the fast-growing company for a future initial public offering.” [Washington Business Journal]
County Releases Annual Report — Arlington County recently released its annual report for 2017. County Manager Mark Schwartz wrote in the report, despite an expected budget gap: “Overall, I am optimistic about our future… with the leadership of the County Board and participation of our residents, we will continue to provide the quality programs and services that our residents have come to expect.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman