News | City of Fairfax, VA

The Fairfax City Smart Restroom pilot program is competing for an IDC Smart Cities North America Award. The metropolis’s modern answer to an absence of everlasting, accessible restroom services has been chosen as a finalist within the class of Economic Development, Tourism, Arts, Libraries, Culture, Open Spaces. Public voting is open by way of March 8. Winners will likely be introduced March 27.

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Smart Cities use rising applied sciences and innovation to make cities extra livable and provide new providers and financial alternatives. The IDC Smart Cities North America Awards acknowledge excellent initiatives and supply a discussion board for sharing greatest practices to assist speed up Smart Cities growth within the area.

The Problem
Many Fairfax City parks had been constructed at a time when everlasting restrooms linked to utilities weren’t thought of a precedence. Installing brick-and-mortar restrooms can take years as they should be budgeted, designed, permitted, constructed – after which maintained.  Additionally, many parks and public areas the place restrooms are wanted might not have water and sewage utilities available. The metropolis has relied on contracted porta-johns, which offer the naked minimal for restroom wants. Public suggestions revealed a necessity for improved ADA entry and household restrooms. The lack of high quality restroom services was cited as a motive by park customers who had been reducing brief their out of doors actions. 

In January 2023 Mayor Catherine Read took workplace for her first time period. During her marketing campaign she lobbied onerous for improved restroom services in parks and public areas. Her election intersected with an effort by Parks and Recreation workers to enhance services at parks.  

In late 2023 the Fairfax City Parks and Recreation Department sought out an answer that would supply safe restroom services that had working water, altering stations, exceeded ADA requirements, might run with out utility hookups, and didn’t require further workers hours to take care of.

The Smart Solution
The metropolis solicited bids from cell sanitation firms and awarded a contract to a sensible restroom supplier. Three items had been put in in several areas of the town. Features of the sensible restrooms embody:

  • The restrooms characteristic a flushing bathroom, urinal, sink with working water, altering stations, and clothes hooks.
  • The ADA accessible items function independently of utility connections and could be put in in just a few hours.
  • The items comprise each freshwater and wastewater tanks. Tank ranges are monitored remotely and specialised vehicles fill and empty the items as wanted.
  • Units are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and are monitored remotely by an operator.
  • Users enter the unit by both scanning a QR code, texting a quantity posted subsequent to the door, or through a smartphone app.
  • After exiting the unit, customers are requested to price the cleanliness of the unit. If a big subject like an overflowing sink or clogged bathroom is recognized, the unit will shut, and a technician will likely be dispatched.
  • The items are cleaned each 50 makes use of by a workforce of native cleaners who’re dispatched and managed by the seller.
  • On-call operators can dispatch hearth or different emergency personnel if the unit detects smoke or different points.
  • Electricity is supplied by way of photo voltaic panels on the roof.
  • Each unit contains an ADA ramp and solely requires the equal of two parking areas.
  • The items could possibly be wrapped in art work designed to suit their environment.

At a current metropolis occasion, workers obtained glowing suggestions from a household whose baby makes use of a motorized wheelchair. The sensible restroom was giant sufficient for each mother and father to enter with their baby. They had been grateful as services like these should not widespread at parks and occasions. 

“Smart restrooms are an excellent match for the parks division’s dedication to fairness,” stated Parks and Recreation Department Director Stacey Sommerfield. “They provide a really accessible, safe, clear, and family-friendly answer to the difficulty of restricted restroom services in parks.”  

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