);
Connect with us

City Government

Peachtree Corners Receives ‘Tree City USA’ Recognition

Published

on

Pictured: Peachtree Corners Land Development Inspector Salim Maalouf, resident Lorrie Backer, Georgia Forestry Commission Director Chuck Williams and resident Hilary Wilson.

It’s the young city’s fourth consecutive certification

Gwinnett County’s largest city, Peachtree Corners, was among 20 Georgia cities recently honored as one of the state’s “Tree City USA” communities. This is the fourth successive certification received by the 6-year-old city.

Peachtree Corners, which was incorporated July 1, 2012, was recognized February 7 during the 2019 State Arbor Day celebration at Trees Atlanta for its commitment to caring for and managing its public trees. Residents Lorri Backer and Hilary Wilson, along with Salim Maalouf, the city’s Land Development Inspector, represented the city during the event.

Tree City USA provides the framework for community forestry management in cities and town nationwide that meet certain requirements, including the establishment of a tree board or department, a community tree ordinance, specific spending levels for urban forestry and planned Arbor Day celebrations.

“Our citizens who make up the city’s Green Committee are to be commended for their efforts, said Mayor Mike Mason. “It is indeed an honor that Peachtree Corners has been recognized for a fourth consecutive year.”

There are 155 Tree Cities USA in Georgia, and nearly 30 percent of the state’s population lives in a Tree City. Nationwide, more than 3,400 Tree City USA communities serve as home to about 135 million Americans.

“Trees connect all of us,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Director Chuck Williams. “Trees clean our air, filter our water, spur economic growth and provide countless opportunities to enjoy recreation, contributing to a better quality of life.”

Peachtree Corners will hold its annual Arbor Day celebration 11 a.m. April 26 at Paul Duke STEM High School.

Feature image: Peachtree Corners Land Development Inspector Salim Maalouf, resident Lorrie Backer, Georgia Forestry Commission Director Chuck Williams and resident Hilary Wilson.

Continue Reading

City Government

Peachtree Corners Recognized for its Smart City Laboratory

Published

on

Smart City Lab

The city has received a Smart 50 Award for its 5G test track project

Incorporated just six years ago, the City of Peachtree Corners is already being recognized on the international stage as a smart city for its innovative plans to build an intelligent mobility and smart city laboratory.

The City recently received a Smart 50 Award in the “Mobility” category by Smart Cities Connect. This award recognizes communities that are developing and adopting smart technology solutions for the betterment of communities and their citizens. Each year, Smart 50 Awards annually recognize global smart cities projects, honoring the most innovative and influential work.  The most innovative and transformative initiatives are spotlighted at the Smart Cities Connect Exposition, recognized as the largest gathering of smart IoT technologies, companies, and cities from around the globe. A complete list of the Smart 50 Award winners for 2019 can be found here.

Construction of the City’s living laboratory, named Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners, began in early March and upon completion in mid-summer will consist of a 1.5-mile test track located on a section of Technology Parkway within Technology Park Atlanta.  This state-of-the-art living laboratory will feature Sprint’s 5G and IoT technology and offer a unique opportunity for companies to explore the next generation of intelligent mobility and IoT applications in an environment that includes interaction with real-world vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The lab’s 5G wireless network coupled with its dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) channels will also allow companies to test vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications.

“We are extremely pleased that the City has been recognized for its plans to develop Curiosity™ Lab at Peachtree Corners,” said City Manager Brian Johnson. “It will be an asset to the innovation community and provide economic development opportunities for Peachtree Corners.” Mr. Johnson has also been asked to lead a panel discussion at the Smart Cities Connect Expo to discuss the options available to municipalities for building an IoT infrastructure that is efficient, fast, and reliable in the long-term.  This panel discussion will walk attendees through the end-to-end infrastructure considerations for smart city implementations.                                

Continue Reading

Business

City as Living Lab

Published

on

autonomous vehicles in Peachtree Corners
Technology Parkway is being reconfigured to create an intelligent mobility test track that will run alongside regular traffic. Entrances and brightly painted lanes are planned for this “living laboratory” being created by the city in partnership with Sprint. Rendering courtesy of City of Peachtree Corners

Intelligent vehicle test track brings the future, and the world, to Peachtree Corners

The little orange flags on stakes along Technology Parkway are modest harbingers of the huge change coming to the Peachtree Corners road.

The city is reconfiguring the road to create a 1.5-mile intelligent mobility test track that will be used to develop and test self-driving vehicles, intelligent mobility and IoT (internet of things) technologies. The test site is the only one of its kind in Georgia, and it may be the only one like it in the country.

Driverless vehicle testing is typically conducted in isolated research environments such as empty parking lots. But the test lanes on Technology Parkway will run alongside regular traffic, separated only by flexible bollards, or sticks, and interacting with vehicles and pedestrians at intersections.

“5G is a world of the future and we’re still trying to figure it out. So, testbeds and living labs like this … are absolutely vital to the growth.”
Cynthia Curry, director of IoT Ecosystem for the Metro Chamber

First announced a year ago, the research site is part of an economic development mission to help reinvigorate the technology park it winds through, Technology Park Atlanta.

Mayor Mike Mason
Photos by JASON GETZ/Getz Images

Mayor Mike Mason expects it do that and much more. “The short-term benefit is that it will provide an energy, a synergy, if you will, for high-tech businesses to establish their businesses in Technology Park to create and develop AV (advanced vehicle) technologies,” Mason said.

“Long-term, we see the Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners to have a ripple effect that expands well beyond our city limits to neighboring cities, counties, regionally and even statewide,” he said. “There is no other living laboratory like this in the state that is available for companies to research, develop and test their intelligent mobility concepts.”

Sprinting to Peachtree Corners

In January, communications giant Sprint signed on as a partner to the test track, bringing its super-fast, high-capacity mobile 5G to the city’s initiative and giving the site a trademarked name, “Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners.” 5G, the latest generation of cellular mobile communications, will provide the bandwidth needed to test vehicle-to-vehicle communication, vehicle-to-infrastructure communication and over-the-horizon warnings, Sprint said in a press release.

Curiosity Lab was first unveiled on Jan. 8 as one of three 5G, IoT partnerships announced by Sprint at the international Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The press release from the event quotes Ivo Rook, Sprint’s senior vice president of IoT, who said, “This is much more than self-driving cars.

“Sprint is bringing together Curiosity IoT, micropositioning and HD mapping, all enabled by our upcoming mobile 5G network, to develop and test the most advanced technologies in the industry,” Rook said, in the release. “We are honored to work with Peachtree Corners to drive AI, robotics and autonomous.”

Peachtree Corners officials showed video they shot at CES during a Jan. 15 press conference at City Hall, a facility that sits directly adjacent to the test track’s path at 310 Technology Parkway.

In an interview on the video, Rook says he is unaware of anything like Curiosity Lab. “What I love about Peachtree Corners is the fact that they’re bringing together a laboratory environment, an environment where companies can actually invest and try things out, but they’re marrying that with the real life,” Rook said. “So, this is the only initiative that I know where basically the test track meets the public road.”

Inquiries are coming in to Curiosity Lab from across the country. There’s interest in testing everything from drones, to solar panels on roads that charge electric vehicles as they drive, to robots that deliver packages and even individual flying machines. (Think “The Jetsons.”)

City Manager Brian Johnson

“People don’t realize — we didn’t until we got involved in this, too — there is a lot larger of an industry in the future to move goods by autonomous vehicles than people,” Peachtree Corners City Manager Brian L. Johnson said. “… All of this V2X, ’vehicle-to-everything,’ requires 5G because 4G does not have enough bandwidth to do this.” Vehicle-to-everything communication is the transfer of information between a vehicle and any entity that may affect the vehicle such as infrastructure, networks, pedestrians and other vehicles.

How it all started

Incorporated in 2012, the city of Peachtree Corners is a planned community that began in the late 1960s, with Technology Park Atlanta, a low-rise campus for high-tech industries, at the core of its 17 square miles. “Companies, specifically tech companies, are the bedrock on which this city was formed from,” Johnson said.

Legendary tech pioneer and Georgia Tech grad Paul Duke proposed Peachtree Corners as a way to attract engineering firms to Georgia and keep Georgia Tech engineering graduates from leaving the state to find work. And today, “The city’s focus on technology is citywide,” Johnson said.

Like many other cities, Peachtree Corners deploys smart city technology such as sensors that can alert when a parking space is available and sensors in public trash cans that can report when they need to be emptied.
Technology Park Atlanta is now home to 49 technology companies, 18 biotech businesses and 84 international companies.

“We have about 45,000 people and about 45,000 jobs,” Johnson said. “It’s very rare for a city to be in a one-to-one ratio scenario. You’re usually considered to be a jobs hub … or vice, versa, where you’re considered to be a bedroom community.”

Peachtree Corners’ robust business community is one of the reasons the city is able to have a full-service government that charges no city taxes, Johnson said. “Very few cities have no property tax,” he said, “and most of the ones that are like us are not near our size. … The healthier the [business] environment is, the healthier our non-business environment is.”

While the city’s origins are part of what led it to where it is today, the other driving force is the way Peachtree Corners approaches economic development, Johnson said. “There’s typically three conventional legs to economic development — recruitment, retention and expansion,” Johnson said. “This city has embraced a fourth leg, and that is creation.”

Becoming an innovation hub

In June 2017, the city approved plans to transform Technology Park Atlanta, commonly known as Tech Park, into a center for innovation.

“When we became a city in 2012, we didn’t inherit a high-tech hot spot. We inherited an aging, suburban office park,” Mayor Mason said, at the city’s Curiosity Lab press conference. “We knew that, and we were determined to change it, which led us to create the Innovation Hub Master Plan.”

The plan calls for research institutions, entrepreneurial training, professional networks, enhanced walkability, mixed uses and public spaces. The city aims to promote collaboration with like-minded business owners and employees in gathering places such as coffee shops and parks within Tech Park’s 500 acres.

Parts of a multiuse trail have been completed in the area. And the 295-unit Echo Lakeside apartment complex was intentionally built within Tech Park to enable millennials — who tend to want to live near their jobs — to walk or bicycle from home to their Tech Park offices.

Full time Prototype Prime consultant
Betsy Plattenburg and City Councilmember Alex Wright

Prototype Prime

Curiosity Lab is the second step in the city’s master plan to re-establish Tech Park Atlanta as an innovation hub. The first step was the city’s 2015 creation of the 25,000-square-foot technology incubator, Prototype Prime, directly adjacent to Curiosity Lab, at 147 Technology Parkway.

The nonprofit supports early stage technology startups with rental space and services such as legal and marketing assistance. Mason said it “epitomizes an innovation hub.”

“Prototype Prime was an empty building and a concept that is now a job creator, an event space, and an educational site,” he said.

A regional affiliate of the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) at Georgia Tech, it’s one of three incubators and business accelerators now operating in the city, all of which are located within Tech Park. The others are privately owned.

After Prototype Prime’s launch, the city decided it would be advantageous for the incubator to target a specific technology, Johnson said.

From there, things happened quickly. City Council members settled on intelligent mobility. Betsy Plattenburg, who worked at ATDC and is a senior consultant to Prototype Prime, suggested adding a research component.

The city announced the intelligent mobility test track last April, committing to a $2 million investment. And today, Prototype Prime is recruiting startups across the country who can be connected with corporate partners in the self-driving vehicle ecosystem.

After the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce heard about the city’s intelligent mobility plans, Peachtree Corners representatives were invited to join the chamber’s delegation to the Smart City Expo held Nov. 11-15 in Barcelona, Spain.

Cynthia Curry, director of IoT Ecosystem for the Metro Chamber, spoke at the city’s Curiosity Lab press conference, saying it will provide vital opportunities for testing to move the IoT system forward and generate jobs.

“5G is a world of the future and we’re still trying to figure it out. So, testbeds and living labs like this … are absolutely vital to the growth,” Curry said. “We’re just thrilled to have this in our region. It helps us ensure and kind of reinforce our position as the number one state to do business. … I can’t wait to see what comes out of this, and I can’t wait to see all the companies that get to benefit from it.”

Plattenburg said Curiosity Lab has received significant interest from universities, Fortune 500 companies and startups from around the country who want to test emerging IoT technologies for smart cities, connected vehicles and other mobility concepts. “They are excited to discover that they can use the track and innovation space at Prototype Prime for as little as a few days or as long as a year — whatever it takes to move their technology from concept to market,” she said.

Coding schools, for adults and kids

One of the startups’ biggest needs is software engineers, according to Plattenburg. “Almost every tech startup needs to hire people who can code, and good talent is hard to find,” she said.

Web development employment is projected to grow by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Peachtree Corners is already planting the seeds to help fill some of those positions.

“In creating the innovation hub plan, the city realized that helping citizens train or retrain to fill open positions would be valuable for everyone and made a focused effort to provide local coding education,” Plattenburg said.

The Professional Education division of Georgia Tech was signed on to conduct a “Coding Boot Camp” for adults at Prototype Prime. Its first round of classes, which started in January, sold out. About 40 students take classes two nights a week and on Saturdays for 24 weeks.

They will team up to work in a simulated professional work environment, building complex projects and applications to bolster their portfolios. They’ll also have access to career services such as resume and social media support, technical interview prep and portfolio reviews. The program, with a price tag of $10,000, is designed for people who are currently working or want to change careers.

Prototype Prime will also host a STEM-related summer camp for kids that starts on June 10. Roswell-based Kids 4 Coding will offer coding classes and other technology-related activities for kids ages 7-16 at the incubator.

Other kids will be reached through the incubator’s just-announced partnership with Paul Duke STEM High School, a new school that opened in Norcross last fall. Mentoring and other opportunities will be provided “so students can see what’s next for the future generation of technology,” Plattenburg said.

Left to right, Council-member Weare Gratwick, Mayor Mike Mason, City councilmembers
Phil Sadd and Alex Wright meet at City Hall during a January press conference where Sprint and the City announced their partnership on an intelligent vehicle test track which will feature Sprint’s 5G technology.
Photos by JASON GETZ/Getz Images

Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners

The city expects Curiosity Lab to take about four months to build. The track will run along Technology Parkway, from Peachtree Parkway to Spalding Drive.

Plans are underway for entrances to the site. “Later in the year, look for brightly painted lanes, digital signage and other visual cues that you are entering an innovation environment that will help to discover and define technologies of tomorrow,” Plattenburg said.

The test track is unique in that the city owns 100 percent of the roadway and right of way, she said. “What the city is creating out here on Technology Parkway is the opportunity for companies large and small to test things of the future and see how they will interact with people and with other vehicles, with traffic lights, with street lights, with everything that you would find in a city,” Plattenburg said.

Curiosity Lab will offer subject matter experts on site and will provide access to the 5G network to Prototype Prime startups. Existing companies in Tech Park will also be able to take advantage of 5G, getting it significantly ahead of the rest of the metro Atlanta, she said.

“We’re looking forward to Sprint helping our startups figure out how to utilize 5G,” Plattenburg said at the Curiosity Lab press conference, which was attended by Sprint IoT sales representative Steven Payne. Payne said Sprint is excited to partner with the city on Curiosity Lab.

“We’re looking forward to, over the next couple of years, not only the technologies that are born out of this park,” Payne said, “but just the innovations and the recognition and economic development it will bring to Peachtree Corners.” ■

Continue Reading

City Government

City Challenges Big-Tree Hunters

Published

on

Arbor Day

The Peachtree Corners Green Committee extended a challenge to residents to identify the biggest tree in the city. It’s not limited to specific varieties of trees. The contest is aimed at identifying the largest trees and is part of the city’s celebration of Arbor Day.

Winners will receive a free dinner for two at the new Town Center, at a restaurant to be determined.

To submit a tree for consideration, please measure the diameter of the tree four feet off the ground and send a photo of yourself with the tree to jhoward@peachtreecornersga.gov. Please include the diameter of the tree, and the words “Big Tree Hunter” in the subject area.

Deadline for submission is 5 p.m. March 29, 2019.

A winner will be announced at the annual Arbor Day event at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 26, at Paul Duke High School, where there will be a tree planting event.

Peachtree Corners was recognized as one of the state’s “Tree City USA” communities for its commitment to caring for and managing its public trees. This is the city’s fourth year in a row to receive the designation.

Tree City USA provides the framework for community forestry management for cities and towns across America that meet requirements including the establishment of a tree board or department, establishment of a community tree ordinance, meeting specific spending levels for urban forestry, and planning an Arbor Day Celebration.

Continue Reading
Advertisement podcast

Topics and Categories

Recent Posts

Trending

Copyright © 2019 Mighty Rockets LLC, powered by WordPress.

Get Weekly Updates!

Get Weekly Updates!

Don't miss out on the latest news, updates, and stories about Peachtree Corners.

You have Successfully Subscribed!