BATON ROUGE – LSU researchers are working with Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and City-Parish department heads to apply technology, applied research and computing-based methods to help address public issues such as traffic, crime and blight. The university and municipal partnership has received support from the National Science Foundation.
“Many local government agencies across the nation are actively looking at ways to build smarter cities and identify innovative ways to deliver more effective services to citizens while creating more resilient communities,” said Mayor-President Broome. “This grant is a clear signal from the National Science Foundation that Baton Rouge is a community taking positive steps in this direction in close coordination with our higher education and research partners, and we have both the capabilities and vision to serve as a collaborative model for how others can do the same.”
The project is led by Seung-Jong Jay Park, associate director for the LSU Center for Computation & Technology. Park is working with a multi-disciplinary team of LSU researchers as well as city-parish officials representing various departments and agencies. Together, this team will share access to key datasets, identify tangible problems, inventory service-related challenges and explore the development and deployment of technology-related solutions.
“As researchers, we are excited any time we see elected officials and government agencies demonstrate a clear and committed vision for enhancing service delivery and the surrounding community through data-driven decision-making and innovative use of technology,” Park said. “In many instances, those who have data may not have the tools or supercomputing processing power to use the data in a way that can inform this type of decision-making. This grant will help to interject ‘big data’ thinking and capabilities into governmental service delivery through research and meaningful collaboration, while clearly demonstrating the role data can play in transforming communities and positioning mid-sized cities like Baton Rouge at the forefront of smart city thinking and university collaboration.”
Additionally, this research team will engage heavily with the East Baton Rouge Parish Smart City Committee, established by Metro Council Resolution 52157 in May 2016. The Smart City Committee consists of representatives from the Office of the Mayor-President, Metro Council, local and state economic development organizations, transportation officials, higher education institutions, technology incubators and others. This committee meets regularly to identify and coordinate opportunities focused on pursuing and leveraging technology-based solutions to influence public policy and decision-making, data management and collaboration, and civic engagement and education.
The National Science Foundation awarded the LSU research team the $99,932 planning grant through its Smart and Connected Communities Program. The project funded by this grant is titled “SCC-Planning: Promoting Smart Technologies in Public Safety and Transportation to Improve Social and Economic Outcomes in a U.S. EDA-Designated Critical Manufacturing Region.”
The application to secure this grant was submitted in close coordination with the LSU Office of Research & Economic Development, which serves as LSU’s central strategic unit responsible for supporting, promoting and advancing the university’s research enterprise.
“As Louisiana's flagship university, a core part of our mission is translating our research into real impact for the region and state,” said Kalliat T. Valsaraj, Vice President for Research & Economic Development for LSU. “Important challenges like traffic and crime affect our quality of life and economic competitiveness, and we're exploring how to bring our expertise in Big Data, analytics, behavior and civil engineering to bear on those challenges. We welcome the opportunity to work together with City-Parish leadership, and are excited the National Science Foundation recognized our vision and novel approach to developing smart city technology.”
Once the terms of the grant award are fulfilled and findings are presented to NSF, LSU researchers and City-Parish officials will collaborate to pursue additional sources of federal funding to implement select research projects identified through this planning effort.