Features

Matt Arvay – Virginia Beach, Virginia

Transforming a popular resort destination into a truly connected community through technology

Virginia Beach consistently ranks among the best cities to live, work and play. It’s home to approximately 450,000 residents and boasts 38 miles of beaches.

The city’s Chief Information Officer Matthew B. Arvay wants to give the city another claim to fame. Arvay is leading the way to transform Virginia Beach into one of the leading connected communities—communities where citizens are fully connected to their government services, businesses, educational institutions and each other through technology.

Virginia Beach Convention Center

Virginia Beach Convention Center

He’s doing so through the advancement of innovative projects, like bringing transatlantic fiber optic cables to the city, connecting government facilities with their own fiber optic network and overhauling the city’s IT infrastructure. He hopes this work will help encourage technology businesses to invest in the city and the region for years to come.

A plan in place

When Arvay came to Virginia Beach in 2014, he recognized the city’s potential for technology advancement and economic development. He also saw that the city needed a clear path to success. Under his guidance, the IT department developed the city’s first-ever Master Technology Plan —a five-year roadmap designed to provide departments with the correct technologies needed to achieve both instant and long-term business success.

Fortunately for Arvay, he is not alone in his desire to elevate Virginia Beach through technology. In the mayor’s 2016 “State of the City” address, broadband connectivity was a primary theme, with a particular focus on ensuring that connectivity is available to support business’ need for global commerce and 21st century job growth—something that Arvay had already set his sights on.

Transatlantic landing point

The most high-profile project that Arvay is currently focused on is establishing Virginia Beach as the Mid-Atlantic hub for transatlantic subsea fiber optic communications.

In 2016, Microsoft and Facebook revealed their partnership to build and manage MAREA—the highest-capacity subsea cable to ever cross the Atlantic, and the first to connect the U.S. to southern Europe. MAREA will run from Virginia Beach to Bilbao, Spain. Spanish multinational broadband and telecommunications provider Telefonica is building another subsea cable, BRUSA, which will connect Virginia Beach to Brazil and Puerto Rico as well.

Arvay considers himself a forward-thinking CIO who knows that the right technologies need the right people in place to implement them.

Because of its central location on the East Coast, just 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., Virginia Beach is a strategic landing point for both subsea cables. These high-speed cables will run into a 20,000-square-foot landing station and data center that Arvay has helped to spearhead. The cables will allow data and information to be transported all over the world and will attract domestic and international businesses that rely on fiber optic communications capabilities.

“Biomedical and technology are two fast-growing industries in Virginia Beach,” Arvay says. “The subsea cable projects put the city in a great position to attract major researchers and health care companies who will need super-fast and highly-reliable Internet connections.”

Fiber is the new utility

Since taking the helm as CIO, Arvay has also led the city’s development and implementation of a Next Generation Network (NGN). The NGN will connect 65 government facilities throughout the city via fiber optic lines. The goal is to foster a “connected community” and provide a variety of services including police, fire, emergency medical services, human services, libraries, parks & recreation and others.

Arvay refers to fiber optics as the “new utility,” and the NGN will make designated economic growth areas and technology business target areas throughout the city fiber ready. These fiber-ready areas will create economic development opportunities by attracting and retaining businesses, providing job opportunities within the city and by potentially lowering connectivity and internet costs for the businesses.

An additional goal is for the next generation network to connect K-12 schools with area colleges and universities, allow biomedical and other research facilities to connect and collaborate and enable Wi-Fi connectivity and mobility throughout the region.

Joint Use Library, TCC campus, Virginia Beach

Joint Use Library, TCC campus, Virginia Beach

“It will also help to facilitate public-private partnerships, and help to bridge the digital divide that exists between those who have easy access to technology and those who don’t,” Arvay says.

An added benefit of connecting its 65 government facilities with fiber optic cable is that the City of Virginia Beach has excess fiber, which it is leasing to private companies, including a major cellular carrier that provides service to Virginia Beach residents.

The right technologies and the right people

Arvay has lead the modernization of the city’s IT infrastructure in other ways as well. He made the strategic decision to update the city’s IT infrastructure by replacing outdated hardware from multiple manufacturers with a single, optimized system of compute, network and storage resources. The modernized system is specifically designed to meet the needs of Virginia Beach today, with the necessary scalability and resiliency to meet the city’s needs for the future.

“I enjoy creating a learning and collaborative environment throughout the department where the staff is encouraged to share their personal experiences, ideas and knowledge.”

Arvay considers himself a forward-thinking CIO who knows that the right technologies need the right people in place to implement them. Arvay has assembled new working roles and teams within the city’s IT department to further the technology goals of the organization. These teams include work in the areas of converged architecture, optical networking, mobile applications development, business relationship management, data science, data modeling and business intelligence.

“I enjoy creating a learning and collaborative environment throughout the department where the staff is encouraged to share their personal experiences, ideas and knowledge,” Arvay says. “I support creative thinking and have built strong teams based on individual strengths and skill sets, and it’s worked out well.”

Arvay’s sound direction of the city’s IT department and the leading technology projects the city has on the horizon puts Virginia Beach well on its way to realizing its goal of a truly connected community. A community that supports the citizens and businesses that call the city home through innovative technology advancements now and into the future.

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Summer I 2019

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