Planning for a futuristic Baton Rouge, Smart City committee aims to ‘reshape everyday experiences’

Updated: Oct. 16, 2019 at 8:16 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Baton Rouge leaders are already planning ahead for the next generation of Baton Rouge residents in anticipation of technological advances that will create new challenges in city development.

The Smart City committee, created by the metro council, aims to bring together the region’s sharpest minds for brainstorming sessions that could produce practical solutions for technological and logistical problems of the future.

For example, as shipping giants like Amazon prioritize same-day delivery, trucks will make more frequent stops on the curbside. Build Baton Rouge CEO, Chris Tyson, says that may force cities to rethink loading zones. Baton Rouge may also need to re-purpose empty malls and shopping centers to create distribution centers to meet higher demand, Tyson said.

“We don’t want Baton Rouge to be left out of what is going to be an exciting period of innovation and change,” Tyson said.

The city will have to prepare for advances in transportation technology, like driver-less cars and electric vehicles. That may require faster internet connections so vehicles can communicate with other vehicles, and more charging stations for smart cars.

Some of the changes are already here. During the last legislative session, lawmakers created a statewide framework for technology-driven ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. In a similar fashion, lawmakers may also need to regulate drones as shippers use them for delivery more often.

City leaders say the planning is necessary to stay ahead of potential problems that technology may bring. The forward-thinking could entice younger people to move to Baton Rouge as well.

“If you’re incorporating these kinds of new technologies into your environment, you need to start planning for them now,” Snow said.

But the discussions at the Smart City committee meetings are not limited to advances in technology. Leaders are imagining futuristic drainage solutions that can help Baton Rouge handle slow-moving, massive storms that appear to be becoming more common.

“We’re trying to be better,” Smart City chair, John Snow, said. “We’re trying to use technology to our full advantage. We’re trying to anticipate trends.”

The emphasis Baton Rouge is putting on future technologies has already caught global attention. A London architecture firm is in the capital region preparing to create a model that will help the city predict certain technologies’ logistical impact.

That model will also help leaders visualize a futuristic Baton Rouge to garner support for certain plans or proposals, and should be available in the coming months.

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