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Pappas Wins Gannett Fleming's Inaugural Innovation Challenge

Employee contest brings smart cities solutions to light

Helen Pappas
Helen Pappas, CHMM
(Harrisburg, Pa.)

Helen Pappas, CHMM, bested 25 Gannett Fleming colleagues in the company’s inaugural Innovation Challenge, which focused on the development of smart cities solutions that harness data analytics and intelligent design to improve the livability, workability, and sustainability of communities.

“Smart cities is a rapidly evolving market with the potential to reach nearly $89 billion by 2025,” said Bob Scaer, PE, Gannett Fleming chairman and CEO. “Gannett Fleming already offers an array of smart cities solutions and support to our clients. Providing our employees with the opportunity and freedom to innovate reinforces our commitment to their professional fulfilment and ensures that we stay at the forefront of providing smart cities solutions.”

Gannett Fleming’s Collaborative Research & Innovation Center (CRIC) Working Group established the Innovation Challenge, reviewed abstracts, and selected a pool of contenders to advance to the final round. Finalists submitted a full analysis report with supporting research and presented their solutions to a committee of Gannett Fleming and architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry experts. Submissions were evaluated against criteria focused on the applicability to smart cities, ability to deliver innovative solutions and advantages to clients, feasibility for development, and potential market value.

“Helen identified a true market need and designed a solution that has the potential to disrupt the real estate industry’s approach to environmental risk assessment, valuation, and remediation for residential properties. It is at once relatable and implementable, and can bring value to industry professionals and consumers alike,” said Brendan Wesdock, MCP, GISP, director of CRIC and president of GeoDecisions®, Gannett Fleming’s award-winning geospatial and information technology division. “Helen’s solution aligns directly with our business and clients’ needs and will be accelerated through CRIC’s development and go-to-market process.”

“Urban communities are undergoing gentrification and transitioning from industrial use to mixed-use or residential neighborhoods at a rapid rate,” said Helen Pappas, an environmental scientist, project manager, and Connected Women at Gannett Fleming steering committee member. “My solution leverages smart cities technologies to enable homebuyers to make informed investments and encourages improved and sustainable community development.”

Four runners up will also have their concepts advanced through the CRIC and evaluated for market readiness. The Innovation Challenge pushed the envelope on smart cities ideation with concepts straddling the AEC industry, urban planning, tourism, gamification, and public safety.

Gannett Fleming aggressively promotes and facilitates innovation among employees to ensure delivery of valuable solutions that solve our clients’ most complex challenges and improve the communities that they serve. In addition to the Innovation Challenge, employees participate in the President’s Innovation Award, which honors implemented services and solutions, as well as the President’s Project Team Award, which recognizes client projects that have achieved the highest standards of quality.

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