LSU researchers team up with city-parish leaders to address traffic, crime, blight

LSU researchers team up with city-parish leaders to address traffic, crime, blight

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Researchers at LSU are working with East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and city-parish department heads to use technology and computing-based methods to help address issues facing the public, such as traffic, crime, and blight. The project has received support from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

"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. 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," said Broome.

The project is being led by Seung-Jong Jay Park, who's the associate director for cyberinfrastructure at the LSU Center for Computation & Technology. Park is working with a team of LSU researchers, all from different backgrounds, as well as city-parish officials representing various departments. This team will share key datasets, identify problems and challenges, and explore the development and deployment of technology-based 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," said Park. "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."

The research team will also be working with the East Baton Rouge Parish Smart City Committee, which was formed by the metro council in May of 2016. The committee is made up of representatives from the mayor's office, the metro council, local and state economic development organizations, transportation officials, higher education institutes, technology incubators, and others. These members meet on a regular basis to identify ways in which they can use technology-based solutions to influence public policy and civic engagement and education.

The NSF awarded the team at LSU a grant in the amount of $99,932 through its Smart and Connected Communities Program.

"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 findings are presented to the NSF, researchers and city-parish leaders will work together to find additional sources of funding to implement research projects identified through this effort.

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