Email signup
The STEM school iCode opened a Vienna campus earlier in December (courtesy iCode)

A Texas-based technology education company has branched out into Vienna.

The school iCode launched its first Virginia franchise in the town earlier this month and is now hosting camps on game building, robotics and other tech skills for students out on break for the winter.

Located in a former Apple Federal Credit Union at 419A Maple Avenue East, iCode Vienna will get a grand opening at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 10.

“As parents living and working in Fairfax County, we saw a need to provide our children earlier exposure to technical education,” franchise co-owner David Dilly said in a statement. “…We realize children love gaming, so why not provide a positive outlet for their desires by learning to understand how their favorite games work?”

Founded in 2015 by Abid Abedi, iCode has close to 50 franchises around the U.S., along with two in Asia. All of the locations follow a curriculum developed by the company’s corporate office in Frisco, Texas.

The Vienna campus is the first of several planned for Virginia, specifically in Fairfax and Loudoun counties. Next up, a school in Burke will open in spring 2023, according to Dilly.

In addition to camps, the school offers three tiers of programs, from one designed for flexibility where students build their own video game to classes focused on specific science, technology, engineering and math topics.

The most popular is a “Belt” program, which is intended to provide a “comprehensive” education in STEM subjects and the arts, iCode Vienna Director Toni Escobedo says. Covering ages 5 through 15, the program teaches a total of seven programming languages with each course building on the previous one.

Escobedo says iCode tailors its class and camp offerings to students’ interests, grouping classes based on age and skill level. The school is equipped with tablets, desktops, drones, robotics, 3D printers, an e-sports gaming lounge and more, with no outside technology needed.

She says the school distinguishes itself from other coding programs by emphasizing the full-time involvement of instructors in all classes and incorporating “soft skills” like project management and collaboration into the curriculum.

“These skills help students succeed not only academically but in their relationships and future careers,” she told FFXnow.

0 Comments
Comcast’s headquarters in Philadelphia (via Mike Conway/Unsplash)

Fairfax County is still working through negotiations with Comcast for cable service in Reston.

Although discussions are still underway, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved an interim agreement that would extend the terms of Comcast’s cable franchise through June 30, 2023.

So far, a long-term renewal agreement has not yet been reached. Federal law — namely the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 — lays out the process by which local communities can renew a cable franchise.

Rebecca Makely, director of the county’s Department of Cable and Consumer Services, said that active negotiations are underway to achieve a “mutually satisfactory resolution.”

“Changes in the video service market in recent years, along with potential changes in the law, have impacted cable franchise renewal negotiations around the country. In Fairfax County, as in many other jurisdictions, this has led to a protracted negotiation process,” Makely wrote in a statement.

In the county’s case, the county is negotiating with the cable operate for a new franchise agreement.

Until a final agreement is reached, the limited extension will remain in place.

Comcast announced last month that it plans to expand its network in Reston to include businesses by the end of the year.

Photo via Mike Conway on Unsplash

0 Comments
A sample design of the county’s redesigned website (via Fairfax County)

Fairfax County is refreshing its website.

A website redesign is currently underway as the county looks to update “the look and feel based on new design trends to serve our community better,” the county’s digital content lead Greg Licamele told FFXnow in an email.

The new website is expected to be launched in early 2023. No interruptions or downtime are expected for the site or services while work is underway, county officials confirmed.

The project is being led by the Department of Information Technology and was laid out in its 2023 adopted plan.

Residents can take a peek at sample designs for both the desktop and mobile versions and can provide feedback via survey until tomorrow (Dec. 7).

Making sure the website is easy to navigate and accessible on mobile devices is a county priority.

“Mobile devices continue to be the main way people see the county website, we’re also conscious of presenting information that works well on smartphones,” Licamele said.

The refresh for both desktop and mobile includes a new color palette and “contemporary” design tweaks.

It will also add a Spanish option for the Fairfax Virtual Assistant, a chatbot that provides automated information on some topics.

Additionally, the IT department plans to integrate some website content with voice assistant devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

Beyond updating the design and compatibility, the refresh was also prompted by resident requests to have important services and items accessible on the homepage.

“For years, we’ve heard people’s desire to have important services highlighted, which is what our current homepage provides with the Find, Pay, Report and Register section at the top,” Licamele said. “The proposed refreshed design keeps our laser focus on those top tasks people want to find easily, as well as spotlighting a few more priority items such as the county’s Strategic Plan.”

The county’s website was last redesigned five years ago, in 2017. There will be “no additional costs associated” with the new website update, the county says.

0 Comments
PayMore plans to open a location in Reston within two to three weeks (via PayMore)

An electronics trading store is slated to open in Reston’s Home Depot by the end of the year, according to a company representative.

PayMore plans to open at a 2,160-square-foot store at 1675 Reston Parkway in Suite J within the next two to three weeks, the company representative told FFXnow in a statement.

The business started in 2011 in New York to serve a small community on the southeastern portion of Long Island, Nassau County.

The concept aims to repurpose items instead of recirculating them back into the marketplace.

Since then, the company now has four operating locations in New York and North Carolina — along with several franchises underway in 31 states.

PayMore offers options to buy, sell, trade and recycle. All devices sold to a PayMore store are professionally data wiped, according to the company. PayMore also buys broken electronics.

0 Comments
The Fairfax County Government Center (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Fairfax County’s new online platform for permitting, zoning and other land use activities has hit a speed bump.

A backlog of applications has emerged since the county finished rolling out its Planning and Land Use System (PLUS) on Oct. 31 due to issues with the technology, Fairfax County Land Development Services confirmed.

“Due to a technical issue, LDS is currently processing a backlog of applications following the launch of the updated Planning and Land Use System (PLUS),” LDS Director William Hicks said in a statement to FFXnow. “We are working to resolve the issue and temporary workarounds for customers are in place until a solution can be implemented.”

Fairfax County’s Planning and Land Use System, which is currently experiencing technical issues (via Fairfax County)

PLUS has been in the works for years, as the county’s planning and development agencies pushed to modernize and consolidate processes that had been siloed in a sprawling network of platforms.

The upgrade’s first phase launched in October 2020, moving materials related to food permits, street name and address changes, and zoning pre-application meetings over to the new system. Other transactions, from fire code permits to public facility reviews (known as 2232 reviews), followed over the next two years.

The rollout culminated in late October with the conversion of the permitting and inspections database (rest in peace, FIDO) and plans and waivers system (PAWS). The process required a 10-day shutdown of all land use systems starting Oct. 21.

Though the county announced on Nov. 1 that the full PLUS was now available, the transition has evidently not gone as smoothly as hoped.

An anonymous tipster told FFXnow that the system hasn’t been working since the temporary outage on Oct. 21, affecting occupancy and residential use permits:

Permits are not getting issued. This is also affecting tenants getting occupancy permit, not allowing them to move into the spaces, residents moving into their home because RUPs cannot be issued. The County has been at a dead stop for almost a month now and people are getting very upset. Fairfax also is not giving out any information on when the system will start to work again.

LDS didn’t specify what the technical issues are, but a spokesperson confirmed they’re affecting all applications, not just ones that migrated with the final phase of the rollout.

A new page added to the LDS website yesterday breaks down the known challenges with details about what happened and who to contact as staff try to fix PLUS.

For example, data for some development projects started before Oct. 21 got corrupted, preventing users from accessing their documents. The county has a complaint form that those affected should complete.

Hicks says customers with questions can call the LDS customer line at 703-222-0801, though there is currently an approximately 2-hour-long wait.

According to the alert issued at 3 p.m. yesterday, the county has over 1,000 building permits and plans to process, which could take over two weeks:

  • Customer Walk-in Service (no appointment): approximately 30-minute queue
  • Virtual Appointments with Customer Service: 3 – 4 business days
  • Processing Building Permits and Plans: 2+ weeks (over 1,000 permits in the queue)
  • Residential Inspections: 2 business days
  • Commercial Inspections: Next business day
  • Major Site Processing Time: +/- one week
  • Minor Site Processing Time: +/- two weeks
  • Other (e.g., waivers, plats, studies) Processing Time: +/- two weeks
0 Comments
Woman on laptop (via Annie Spratt/Unsplash)

Comcast Corp. is planning to expand its network to more businesses in Reston by the end of the year.

The media and technology company says it plans to pump $3 million in an effort to boost the network in Reston, Chesterfield, Sterling, Fredericksburg, Woodbridge and Charlottesville, according to a news release from the company.

“High-speed Internet and secure networking services are a must-have to attract businesses,” Virginia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Barry DuVal said in a press release. “The latest investments and network expansions across Virginia are a testament to Comcast Business’ commitment to fostering economic development in our local communities.”

The project is expected to expand Comcast’s broadband network to more than 250 businesses in the area. The network can deliver speeds of up to 1.2 gigabit-per-second or more for small and medium-sized businesses and up to 100 gbps for larger businesses.

Businesses will also have access to Comcast’s business products and services.

“Capacity, network performance and security are critical factors in doing business today. With Comcast’s latest fiber-rich expansion in Virginia, more local businesses will now have access to additional technology service options that will help them to be more successful and outpace their competition,” said Dan Carr, regional vice president of Comcast’s Beltway region.

The planned expansion in Reston and elsewhere follows a two-year, $28 million investment that built out Comcast’s network in the mid-Atlantic, including Tysons. That project was completed this past June, according to a company spokesperson.

Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner announced yesterday that the Commonwealth will receive about $5 million for broadband expansion projects. It is Virginia’s first allocation from the $42 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program created by the bipartisan infrastructure law that Congress adopted last year.

Despite Fairfax County’s overall affluence and increasing urbanization, broadband coverage is uneven with gaps concentrated in communities of color and low-income households, a county analysis found last year. Staff reported in June 2021 that an estimated 4.2% of houses have no access to broadband internet, including 10.7% of households in north Reston.

0 Comments
The website is currently going through a redesign effort

The Town of Herndon will launch a new website in the summer of 2023 — the first major redesign since the platform was launched in 2016.

The town is working with Granicus, its current vendor, to complete the 10-month project, according to Anne Curtis, the town’s spokesperson.

The redesign effort is in its early phases, and the new website is expected to go live in the summer of next year.

“It has served town residents and businesses well, but we are looking to update design, functionality and ease of usage — therefore, this project,” Curtis wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

The town is currently courting feedback on the current site via an online survey. The survey asks respondents to assess the navigation of the site, how it is accessed, how information is organized, and the overall navigation and user experience.

Granicus was hired under a roughly $54,000 contract, Curtis said.

0 Comments
Pangiam Chairman and CEO Kevin McAleenan with Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick (courtesy Pangiam)

(Updated at 3:55 p.m. on 9/23/2022) A consultant that provides facial recognition technology and other identity verification services to the travel and security industries has selected Tysons as the site of its new global headquarters.

Drawn by Fairfax County’s “dynamic” workforce, Pangiam will establish a base at Valo Park (7950 Jones Branch Drive) with a $3.1 million investment, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced this morning (Thursday).

The move will expand the business with 20,000 additional square feet of office space and 201 new jobs in the county over the next three years, according to press releases from the governor’s office and the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA).

“We chose Virginia as our headquarters for a variety of reasons,” Pangiam Chief Investment Officer Tom Plofchan said. “First, it’s home. Our leadership team is either from Virginia or built their careers and families here, so it was only right to build and try to contribute to the local community when we started Pangiam.”

Plofchan also cited Northern Virginia’s proximity to the federal government and “world-class” talent pool as factors in Pangiam’s decision.

“Our collaboration with Virginia’s universities has helped our team, just a handful of people with a vision less than three years ago, compete with some of the largest companies in the world for talent,” he said.

Founded by customs and security professionals in 2019 and acquired by a private equity firm in 2020, Pangiam develops tools that use data analytics, biometrics and artificial intelligence to boost security and detect potential threats, with airports as a top focus.

The company’s clients include the Department of Homeland Security, the Air Force, Delta and United airlines and Washington National Airport, per the FCEDA.

Pangiam has been occupying “temporary space” in Virginia during the buildout of its new headquarters, a spokesperson said.

“With the support of our partners at Stream Realty, the attention to detail and execution provided by our GC team at DWatts, and the flexibility and innovative design vision Collective Architecture brought to the equation, the new facility gives us space to grow and the work environment to attract top local and national talent back to the office,” Pangiam told FFXnow by email.

Secured through a collaboration between the county and state economic development teams, the selection of Tysons cements Fairfax County’s “strong position as a place of choice for tech industry leaders,” FCEDA President and CEO Victor Hoskins said in a statement.

“With safety always at the forefront of everyone’s minds, Fairfax County is pleased to have Pangiam’s headquarters in Fairfax County, the heart of America’s national security infrastructure,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “As Pangiam works to secure our ports of entry using next-generation technology, we welcome their expansion to Tysons and the hundreds of new jobs they are bringing.”

The announcement comes just a day after Youngkin shared that another tech startup, Enabled Intelligence Inc., will expand its headquarters in West Falls Church.

0 Comments
The Fairfax County Government Center (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Fairfax County has issued a call for innovators to pitch solutions that work toward carbon neutrality and clean energy.

Pitch and Pilot,” a county-led innovation challenge, aims to find and pilot new projects that improve energy efficiency, increase renewable electricity use, and encourage the use of electric vehicles.

The winning team will have the chance to pilot their proposal in the county.

The pitch competition is sponsored by the county, George Mason University, and Smart City Works, a local nonprofit organization.

“Finding answers that increase energy efficiency and shift from a carbon-based to a carbon-neutral economy is a central goal in Fairfax County’s Strategic Plan,” event organizers wrote in last week’s announcement. “The county is courting solutions because the county’s first-ever Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) calls for carbon neutrality within the community by 2050, with a 50% cut in carbon emissions by 2030.”

An orientation is slated for Sept. 15. The contest concludes with a public pitch contest on Oct. 19. The deadline to submit a two-page concept is Oct. 3.

Smart City Works aims to empower communities to solve urban challenges and improve economic growth through technological innovation.

0 Comments
A new tenant has signed on in the four-story-building (via Moore & Associates)

Another big name in enterprise information technology is coming soon to Herndon.

Iron Mountain, a Boston-based company that provides records management, data backup and recovery, document management and data centers, plans to open a location at Worldgate Metro Plaza, according to Fairfax County permits.

The business is set to take up space at the plaza, which is located at 12901 Worldgate Drive.

Representatives for Iron Mountain did not return several requests for comment from FFXnow.

Worldgate Plaza was acquired in 2017 and includes a little over 325,000 square feet of space.

The business has locations across the country, but is headquartered in Massachusetts.

Photo via Moore and Associates

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list