Riverfront Park to be Fredericksburg’s first ‘Smart Park’

November 20, 2020 | Community News | Parks & Recreation

The City of Fredericksburg is proud to announce a partnership with the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) for a “smart” Riverfront Park.

This new park, located along Sophia Street in Historic Downtown, will be a significant new public space in the downtown area. It is currently under construction and, when complete, will feature Rappahannock River views with open space, event space and a play area.

“In 2018, City Council directed staff in their Priority #8 to build Riverfront Park after more than a decade of work. To deliver other Council Priorities at the same time, we have been very focused on embedding ‘Smart Communities’ thinking within our design and construction – with success,” stated City Manager Tim Baroody.  (See Council’s most recent update on Priorities.)

Thanks to the City’s new partnership and a $75,000 grant from CIT, more expansive plans for Riverfront Park are coming together. The City has been working to position itself for Smart Community efforts and recognizes that broadband infrastructure is the key to many smart community projects. CIT is leading the statewide strategic initiative to pilot “smart” technologies throughout the Commonwealth under the newly established Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA). For the City, CIT has helped from the beginning to design and implement the infrastructure to help make this project come to life with smart technology implemented in phases. The first phase provides public Wi-Fi in the park and park security cameras as well. The infrastructure, designed for growth, could later include a digital information kiosk, a public performance stage, environmental sensors for air quality and river flooding, and possibly sensors for parking availability or crowd counts.

According to CIT CTO David Ihrie: “The partnership with the City of Fredericksburg is an outstanding example of our statewide smart community approach of ‘community-driven’ innovation.’ The City invited us to collaborate early in the process to help ensure the inclusion of key infrastructure elements in the park to allow for future growth. This project demonstrates that the benefits of ‘smart’ technology are approachable for communities of all sizes throughout Virginia and is a model that other communities can follow.”

Fredericksburg’s Information Technology (IT) department approached CIT with this opportunity to work toward our progressive City Council’s priority “Position the City for Smart Community Initiatives…”  This Smart Community project is also in conformance with the City’s One Dig Policy, in which IT is included in the review process for any pending underground projects so the City can identify and evaluate opportunities to collaborate on the installation of new fiber at the same time the ground is already being disturbed.  This approach strategically saves costs and preserves limited Right of Way space throughout the City.

As stated in their Council Priorities, carefully planned capital projects should include infrastructure investments to improve public services. Preparing Riverfront Park not only provides the traditional outdoor benefits of a publicly accessible space for all to enjoy, but it will also provide technological advancements for all who use and service the park area.

Riverfront Park is anticipated to open in summer 2021. For more information on the Riverfront Park project, please visit Fredericksburgva.gov or call 540-372-1010.

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