Arlington's Innovative Past, Present and Future

Did you know the technology that became the foundation for the internet was developed here in Arlington?  In the 1970s, employees at the Arlington-based Advanced Research Projects Agency, now known as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA, created a technology called ARPANET to support the military's needs. However, the technology's applications were soon found to serve a wider civilian audience, as it allowed information to be rapidly and widely available. The rest of the story is history as the internet and the myriad of services it spawned continue to impact society to this day.


Moving to the present, Arlington's innovative ethos continues to make it a destination for entrepreneurs and global tech companies, as evidenced by Amazon's HQ2 decision, our 31 companies appearing on the Inc. 5000 list, and winning first place in the Digital Counties Survey. The top honor recognized the strong work of Arlington's Department of Technology Services in creating a resilient network that paved the way for a smooth transition amid the chaos of COVID-19 and also for launching a series of smart community initiatives aimed at optimizing commercial districts for the expected influx of workers in the next decade, including the following:


  • Safety and Innovation Zone Pilot
    • A demonstration project that retrofits luminaires and sensors onto pre-existing streetlight poles to promote safe public spaces. The project is designed as a multi-pronged solution to meet the needs of several stakeholders and will deliver new insights to Arlington County with a primary focus on pedestrian safety. 


  • First Responder Initiative
    • In conjunction with a large owner of commercial and residential property, Arlington County is exploring how technology may augment the work of first responders and reduce the risks for all during an incident response. In the spirit of public and private cooperation, both organizations are working together to create a demo environment for the purposes of testing public safety innovations within the interior of buildings.


Looking to the future, the recent acquisition of Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum by developer JBG SMITH is accelerating the ability to bring 5G and other technology infrastructure to the National Landing area, which is home to nearly 12 million square feet of office space. The investment is part of a broader public/private effort, including the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, to create a premier destination for entrepreneurs and global tech companies to innovate and scale globally. For its part, JBG SMITH envisions National Landing as a canvas for innovation in industry clusters such as defense and cybersecurity, cloud/edge computing, internet of things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI). This robust technology infrastructure will allow enterprises to connect everything and everyone in real time and transform customer engagement and experiences in the neighborhood.

Topic: Economic Update
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