Cars from Train Near Wiehle-Reston East Detach While Moving — Commuters were appalled Monday night when cars from a train approaching Wiehle-Reston East separated on the track. The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission is now investigating the incident. In a statement, the commission said the first of two cars of a six-car train uncoupled while the train was moving. An investigation is underway. [Washington Metrorail Safety Commission]
How Reston Became the Place for Tech Expansion — “Sandwiched between major roadways within its close proximity to the nation’s capital, Reston has grown to become a noteworthy technology town in Northern Virginia. Located in an area often dubbed the “Silicon Valley of the East,” Reston continues to see significant growth in the technology sector.” [ICS Blog]
County Responds to Public Record Requests — The volume and complexity of Freedom of Information Act requests continues to increase. Last year, the county received 8,459 FOIA requests, an average of 34 requests per working day. [Fairfax County Government]
Flickr pool photo by vantagehill
(Updated at 9:15 a.m.) The education technology company Blackboard Inc. announced today (Jan. 2) plans to move its global headquarters from D.C. to Reston this year.
“The new location will combine the company’s existing D.C. and Reston offices into a new modern office in the heart of Northern Virginia’s tech corridor,” according to a press release.
Blackboard, currently headquartered at 1111 19th Street NW, will relocate to the Plaza America complex (11720 Plaza America Drive), where its Reston office is already located, Washington Business Journal reported.
The company’s D.C.-area workforce is currently divided between its D.C. and Reston offices.
“We are excited to bring our Metro D.C. area workforce together into a new global headquarters in the vibrant Northern Virginia tech corridor,” Blackboard Chairman, CEO and President Bill Ballhaus said in the press release.
Ballhaus said that the new office space will offer “convenient access” to dining, shopping and transportation.
“We are delighted that Blackboard chose Fairfax County for its global headquarters and will expand its footprint here,” Catherine Riley, the interim president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, said in a press release.
Riley added that Blackboard’s decision to be based in Northern Virginia’s “technology corridor” is “an additional confirmation of the value of Fairfax County for innovative companies from across the technology spectrum.”
Blackboard joins several other tech companies that have recently decided to move their headquarters to or expand in Reston, including IDEMIA, Refraction and 1901 Group.
— Sharon Bulova (@SharonBulova) January 3, 2019
Image via Google Maps
(Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1:30 p.m. to include more information about the selection process for “Tech 100.”)
More than a quarter of companies selected for the Northern Virginia Technology Council’s inaugural “Tech 100” call Reston or Herndon home.
The companies span a variety of categories — cyber, software, IT services, artificial intelligence, genomics, health IT — in order to represent growing sectors in the region’s technology corridor.
“The NVTC Tech 100 is composed of companies and individuals who are driving tech innovation, implementing new solutions for their customers and leading growth in the greater Washington region,” Eileen Filler-Corn, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates representing Fairfax County, tweeted today.
The nomination period ran from Sept. 19 to Oct. 19, with the requirement that nominees must have a location in the Northern Virginia region, according to Allison Gilmore, vice president of NVTC’s Communications and Strategic Initiatives. An independent panel of judges reviewed and selected the nominations.
Out of the 85 companies chosen, 17 have headquarters in Reston and six are based in Herndon.
The Reston-based companies are the following:
- Altum, Inc.
- Confident Governance
- Fractal Industries
- LookingGlass Cyber Solutions
- Patrocinium Systems
- SOC Telemed
- Transaction Network Services (TNS)
Companies headquartered in Herndon include:
A party at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner at 6 p.m. tonight will celebrate the Tech 100.
Images via the Northern Virginia Technology Council
This story has been updated
The partnership will provide Google Cloud services to support the NIH’s Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability (STRIDES) Initiative, Carahsoft announced today (Nov. 29).
The initiative aims to reduce economic and technological barriers for accessing and computing on large biomedical datasets.
The NIH Institutes and Centers support researchers at more than 2,500 academic and research institutions.
The institutions’ data have traditionally been stored and made available via public repositories or at local institutions — a model that has become straining as data from research projects grows. “This makes it difficult for the research community attempting to integrate, analyze and share biomedical data sets,” according to the press release.
Carahsoft’s work with Google Cloud is meant to address those challenges by making high-value data more accessible through the cloud.
Google Cloud computing solutions will be available to the NIH and its designated recipients, and the NIH will work with the research community to develop policies utilizing the solutions.
The partnership to support the initiative will help accelerate the research institutions’ goal of enhancing health, lengthening life and reducing illness and disability, Terry Drinkwine, vice president of the Google Cloud team at Carahsoft, said in a statement.
Founded in 2004, the company is located at 1860 Michael Faraday Drive #100.
Photo via Google Maps
Amazon’s decision to bring its second headquarters to Crystal City is sure to send an immediate and impactful jolt across Arlington, but what’s less clear is how the coming of the technology giant will impact Northern Virginia as a whole.
Although Reston is couched far from Arlington, the community could see a windfall from the new headquarters, which will be split between Arlington and Long Island City, especially with the community’s onboarding to the Silver Line and a planned expansion in development and redevelopment over the next two decades.
Business leaders in the area portend the coming of Amazon will help expedite the transformation of communities like Reston from a federal government town to a technology corridor. That transition is already taking place with the coming of new headquarters like Leidos, a scientific research company, to Reston’s new developments.
Mark Ingrao, CEO and president of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, said secondary and tertiary businesses lured by Amazon’s foothold in Arlington may be enticed to set up shop in new and emerging developments in Reston around the Silver Line.
“It is going to be a prime opportunity to relocate here in an area that’s new and right on the Silver Line,” Ingrao told Reston Now.
Additionally, limitations in the amount and affordability of housing stock in Arlington could push some employees and residents to find housing in Reston’s transit station areas, which are in the process of major transformation and redevelopment. The move could also diversify Reston’s workforce, Ingrao said.
But the move is not without challenges, ushering in associated concerns about infrastructure and transportation impacts that have long plagued discussions about future development in Reston.
Ingrao is optimistic that the coming of tech giants like Amazon will help expedite county and state discussions about needed transportation infrastructure improvements and encourage officials to tackle them in a “more direct way.”
“At the end of the day, it should force local government and others to really concentrate on the infrastructure needs and get them addressed sooner rather than later,” Ingrao said.
Here’s more from what county officials and business leaders are saying about the decision.
“Having HQ2 in Northern Virginia will bring important jobs, business diversity and more innovative technology to the area,” said Gerald Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. “We look forward to continuing to work with Amazon Web Services to expand its presence here and are excited to collaborate with other innovative companies that will be putting down roots in Fairfax County soon.”
“We congratulate Arlington and Alexandria on being selected in the process for Amazon HQ2,’ said Buddy Rizer, director of Loudoun Economic Development. “We consider this a win for the entire region. Many of Loudoun’s highly educated professionals will join the Amazon workforce, and many of Loudoun’s wine country and other retail and recreation venues will become favorite destinations for Amazon employees throughout the Northern Virginia/DC Metro region. We will continue to market Loudoun County as a world-class location for global businesses like Amazon, and we look forward to making some exciting announcements about new Loudoun companies soon.”
Photo courtesy Crystal City BID
Reston companies topped rankings for the most prominent and largest cybersecurity firms in the Washington region.
The rankings, determined by the Washington Business Journal based on last year’s revenue, included 25 companies, 21 of which are in Fairfax County. Based on the rankings, eight of the 25 companies are located in Herndon and Reston.
Reston-based Carahsoft Technology Corp., a distributor, and reseller of services that aim to reduce risks associated with cybersecurity topped the list. The company, which is located on 1860 Michael Faraday Drive, reeled in $4.1 billion in revenue and has 900 employees.
Herndon-based Iron Bow Technologies, which offers services related to defense, threat visibility, policy enforcement, and data protection, came in second, with $862.8 million in revenue last year and 661 employees.
ThunderCat technology, which offers forensic analysis and other services, ranked third, with $320 million in revenue and 70 employees. Knight Point Systems ranked fourth, Amyx Inc. ranked sixth, ITility ranked seventh, SeKON Enterprise Inc. ranked fourteenth and Electrosoft ranked 24th.
Photo via Carahsoft Technology Corp.
Sameride, a ridesharing app that allows drivers and passengers to offer and request rides, has launched a new route from Herndon, Reston and Loudoun County to Arlington and the District.
More than 140 commuters are registered for the service, which allows app drivers and passengers to offer or request rides before taking off for their commute. Unlike taxi services, Sameride is an on-demand carpool service that helps connect drivers and drivers commuting on the same route.
Commuters can carpool on express lanes between Park & Ride commuter lots and their offices. The company, which first launched a route between Woodbridge and Tysons Corner, serves around 250 commuters. Company officials estimate the service can help customers who commute between the Herdon-Monroe Park & Ride lot and Rosslyn Metro Station $300 on rider’s fares or $590 on express lanes tolls on a monthly basis.
Andriy Klymchuk, a company representative for Sameride, said demand for a carpool matching service from Reston and Herndon has grown.
“This demand is due to the conversion of I-66 into high-occupancy toll express lanes, new residential constructions in the area and expansion of Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride lot. The same is true for Loudoun County commuters,” Klymchuk said. “In addition, Reston area serves as a hub for Sameride commuters coming on 267. Some commuters drive from as far as west of Leesburg and pick-up riders at the commuter lots near Reston.”
Klymchuk offered the following information about how the company differs from other ridesharing services:
Think about it as a commute sharing. You and your neighbor happen to work in the same location and you agree to ride to work together. With Sameride you do the same but through the app that allows you to create on-demand carpools. You can choose to be a driver or a rider, set your pick-up time and locations, commute once or daily, create ride requests or offers a few hours or a week before your commute. Drivers benefit from using HOT express lanes toll-free and riders benefit from getting a free commute. Both parties benefit from getting to the office and back home faster.
The app is available on iOS and Android.
Photo via Sameride
Reston Association’s Design Review Board unanimously shot down T-Mobile’s plans to install cell phone equipment on the roof of Waterford Square Condominiums Tuesday night — noting that the company’s tweaked plans did little to address residents’ concerns about the equipment’s incompatibility with the building.
T-Mobile proposed to install cell phone equipment on the building, igniting vehement opposition from residents’ who argued the equipment was extremely visible, damaged the building’s character and posed possible health concerns.
Richard Newlon, the DRB’s chair, said T-Mobile’s plan, which was similar to plans rejected by the board in April, did little to address the panel’s concerns about the visibility of the equipment. Panels are around 12 feet high and 10 feet wide.
“It was clear in April that this kind of design is not going to get approved by this board and it’s the same design,” Newlon said. “It’s almost embarrassing to be sitting here saying the same thing again and I don’t want to be… six months from now… saying the same thing again.”
DRB members also worried that installing cell phone equipment on a residential building could lead to similar proposals by other service providers. The redevelopment of Lake Anne Fellowship House prompted T-Mobile to remove its equipment from the rooftop and scout for other locations in Reston.
More than 25 people, including condominium residents and neighbors of the building, opposed the plan on Tuesday. Some noted that their stance was not indicative of mere opposition to change, adding that residents of the condominium were exploring the possibility of installing solar panels on the roof.
“We’re not trying to live in the past,” one resident, who lived in the building for roughly 20 years, said.
Ed Donahue, T-Mobile’s legal representative, said the company had attempted to strike a compromise by scaling back the structure from the edge of the roof and installing plastic, brick-like screening for the equipment. Donahue also noted that possible health concerns and zoning were outside of the DRB’s purview.
“We are in full compliance of the federal guidelines as we are on the thousands of sites in Virginia,” Donahue said, comparing T-Mobile’s plans to a similar installation at the Heron House.
Other DRB members said that T-Mobile failed to convince the board how the cell phone equipment and towers would be compatible with the architectural integrity of the building.
“I still see that it’s visible and it does detract from the architecture and the roofline,” said Grace Peters, a DRB member.
The equipment by other companies displaced by development at the Lake Anne Fellowship House have not yet proposed plans for reinstallation to other sites.
Photo via handout/Reston Association
BigBear, Inc., a San Diego-based big data and analytics firm, has opened an office in Reston. The company signed a three-year lease for 2,600 square feet of office space at 12007 Sunrise Valley Drive. BigBear, Inc. has another office in Charlottesville and plans to keep its headquarters in San Diego, Ca.
In a statement, the company said its revenue grew by more than 220 percent last year and could gain an additional 50 percent by the end of the year.
“By having our senior technology experts and engineers located near our customers, it enables the kind of close collaboration that is required to provide the high-level mission-critical support we deliver,” wrote Frank Porcelli, the company’s CEO in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to bring the incredible cost savings and productivity-enhancing benefits of our platform and expert team to more customers throughout the defense and intelligence communities.”
The company creates private, secure cloud environments that help organizations complete big data computing, machine learning, and decisionmaking. It specializes in cloud computing, big data analytics, machine learning, biotech and life science, and data mining and systems engineering.
Photo via BigBear Inc.
The Town of Herndon’s Council will consider a proclamation to officially recognize June as “LGBTQ+ Pride Month” at a public hearing tonight at 7 p.m. in the Herndon Council Chambers Building (765 Lynn Street).
The proclamation intends to “recognize the difficulties and prejudice the LGBTQ+ community has worked to overcome,” in addition to recognizing the work of advocates who fight for equality for all people.
The Town Council is also considering launching a Smart Cities pilot program in Herndon. Through the agreement with Vivacity D.C. Inc., a Delaware-based corporation, the town will evaluate smart city technologies, including remote-controlled LED lights with radio capabilities in downtown Herndon in an effort to reduce electricity and maintenance costs.
Upgraded infrastructure, to be installed by the end of the year, would allow the town to provide free public WiFi, improve mobile coverage and county pedestrian traffic, according to the draft pilot project agreement.
Specifically, Vivacity DC, Inc. will build a wireless network in the downtown area, replace 10 street light poles with LED smart poles, and upgrade 10 existing street light poles with LED lighting. The project also includes the installation of an electric vehicle charging station.
Town Council public hearings are webcast and are cablecast live on Herndon Community Television (HCTV).
A bedroom community awakens — A look at how younger people are leaving cities and settling in communities like Reston. [U.S. News & World Report]
For job seekers — Reston Association has officially posted a job listing as it continues to search for a new CEO after Cate Fulkerson’s sudden departure from the position this year. [Association Career]
So[lar] awesome — Virginia’s capacity to generate solar electricity is expected to triple over the next year. Can the Commonwealth handle that power? [WTOP]
Going mobile — Joining the rest of the digital world, Metro plans to enable customers to pay for trips by using a mobile device next year. Of course, there isn’t an app for that (yet). [WMATA]
$20 million for Expel — The cybersecurity startup based in Herndon has raised the funds led by a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Funds will fuel the company’s product development and go-to market efforts. [Washington Business Journal]
Photo by Lauren Pinkston
A new technology center has opened up its offices at 1821 Michael Faraday Drive.
Northern Virginia Community College’s Reston Technology Center, which includes a new technology training hub, opened earlier this year. A grand opening celebration is set for April 25 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.
The center offers night, weekend and day classes in coursework varying from cybersecurity to business. It contains 11 classrooms, three computer labs, a library and a multi-purpose room.
Individuals interested in attending the grand opening ceremony should RSVP online.
Image via Reston Center
The case of Roberta Walls, a 22-year-old library worker who was stabbed, raped and dumped in a baseball field in Virginia Beach, went cold in 1988. Local police collected DNA from 41 people with ties to Walls. But no one checked out.
More than 30 years later, the work of Parabon NanoLabs, a Reston-based company, is helping breath new life into the case.
The company uses DNA phenotyping to predict physical traits and ancestry from genetic material left at crime scenes. Genetic sleuths can track eye color, skin color, face shape and heritage, but not other traits like age, weight and hairstyle.
It’s a new way to look at DNA, which law enforcement agencies use by matching a suspect’s DNA to that found at a crime scene or cross-checking against government databases.
But at Parabon, staff see DNA as a blueprint, not a fingerprint, said Ellen Greytak, Parabon’s bioinformatics director. Forensic artists can use information from DNA phenotyping to develop a composite image, which investigators use to narrow suspect lists, sans witness descriptions. The method can also help further investigations about unidentified remains.
But the method has raised some concerns, including questions about accuracy, racial profiling and privacy infringement. The American Civil Liberties Union, for example, calls composites “science fiction.” The organization says DNA phenotyping should not advertise suspects to the public until the science is firmly proven and established.
“The actual suspect may look nothing look the speculative image, which could end up detouring or otherwise harming an investigation,” Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst, wrote.
Greytak said the company is simply providing the same service a witness would have provided from an “objective” perspective. Law enforcement officials are becoming more open to the technology after Parabon analyzes DNA samples provided by police.
“We’re a genetic witness providing a description of that person. The information should be and is used by investigators in the same way a witness description should be,” Greytak said.
Although the company has limited control over how law enforcement agencies use the information, Greytak said most agencies understand the technology is not a panacea. The company cautions against running facial composites in facial recognition software.
“We always emphasize the composite is not a photograph of the person. We only have access to the DNA. It’s important to remember that two people with similar DNA could have a different appearance,” she said. “It’s not going to immediately solve every case but it’s always going to give you more information than what you have before.”
In the future, the company hopes to expand the number of predictable traits – especially age – and build up its database, which is used to build predict models. Currently, the database has information about DNA and physical appearance from volunteers.
Until then, Greytak said she finds the work especially worthwhile. Recently, the company began receiving handwritten thank you notes from loved ones whose cases Parabon is considering. For many, newfound hope in abandoned cases is uplifting, she said.
Photo via Parabon NanoLabs
Doug Meeker calls himself a corporate refugee. His son’s diagnosis with autism in 2003 pushed him off the corporate bandwagon and into the launch what he calls a “quest”: Life Sherpa.
The Reston-based app turns smartphones into personal trainers, giving young adults with executive functioning challenges like his 15-year-old son a step-by-step behavioral training program to traverse their day.
The concept is inspired by the Sherpas, an ethnic minority group in Eastern Nepal who have helped travelers like Edmund Hillary — the first person to climb Mt. Everest — navigate the treacherous mountain terrain.
The app’s main objective is to help young adults gain life skills as they transition into adulthood. It has drawn a diverse team of organizers, including members in Romania and India, who are united in their effort to help young adults overcome executive functioning challenges.
“The thing that keeps parents up at night is what happens they become adults. We can teach job skills to this population all day long, but… if they don’t have the basic life skills, it’s very hard to retain the job skills,” Meeker said. “The question comes down to this: How can we help this population gain more self-reliance?”
The app allows caregivers, therapists, counselors, school administrators and other stakeholders involved with the user to remotely monitor and measure their client’s progress.
But Meeker says the app’s goal was never to replace in-person human interaction critical to people’s success.
“What we really want to do is help the innovators scale their efforts. The more we can help them do that, the more we can free up resources to help more kids,” Meeker said.
Close to 100 clients are registered on the platform since its soft launch last in February last year.
Meeker said he believes the app will be successful because it draws on individual’s skills like close attentiveness to detail and the ability to solve complex problems.
The app also generates metrics and analytics to track client’s progress — departing from the days when clipboards and stopwatches were the primary tools for recording progress. Life Sherpa also uses consistent phrases and directions that are critical for successful behavioral therapy, he said.
Meeker hopes the app will continue to help young adults like his son — who is also a cancer survivor — transition into adult life.
“This is a personal quest. It’s all about creating ways for the individual to be independent and still be connecting to the people that are supporting them,” he said.
Photo courtesy of Doug Meeker
Two Reston-based software companies are one of the 500 fast-growing technology companies in United States, according to Deloitte’s annual ranking of the country’s fastest growing companies.
The ranking, Technology Fast 500, places LookGlass Cyber Solutions, Inc. at 105th place. The company is involved in the cyber intelligence industry.
Winners are ranked based on the percent of fiscal year revenue growth between 2013 and 2016. LookGlass Cyber Solutions, Inc. grew to 1,326 percent while GoCanvas grew by 528 percent.
“Winners underscore the impact of technological innovation and world class customer service in driving growth, in a fiercely competitive environment. These companies are on the cutting edge and are transforming the way we do business,” said Sandra Shirai, vice chairman of Deloitte.
The fastest-growing technology company that snagged the top title was Donuts, Inc, a Washington-passed company that is a global registry for domains. It experience a growth rate of 59,093 percent.
A complete list of rankings is available online.