Is Shreveport a ‘Smart City’?

Transition team member discusses steps for becoming a Smart City

By Stacey Tinsley

 Is Shreveport headed towards being a Smart City? If their mayor gets his way, they might be.

Lt. Gen. (Ret) Robert Elder, a member of Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins’ Transition Advisory Board, told the AFCEA ArkLaTex Chapter meeting in Bossier City January 23, that the board and Perkins have discussed how they will pursue the initiative for the city.

In short, a smart city is one that uses data collection sensors to supply information to manage assets and resources efficiently.

Elder explained to the audience that real world knowledge applications can provide insights into where a population is currently and predict where they will be in the future much faster and more accurately. This includes everything from crime patterns to street traffic and business expansion.

“Look at Lafayette, or Chattanooga, Tenn., both of which invested in smart infrastructure. Chattanooga cut its unemployment rate in half, and Lafayette has attracted thousands of jobs for software engineers, programmers, and IT personnel,” Elder said.

He said updating infrastructure around the city is one of the most essential parts to attracting technology businesses to the area. These will bring higher paying jobs to Shreveport. 

“Tech jobs are some of the highest paying jobs today. Look at Bossier City with the Cyber Innovation Center — there is a huge demand for people to fill these positions,” Elder said. 

He added that a broadband network to facilitate high speed data transfers is a major component of a Smart City, and it has benefits for citizens. 

“We could bring in additional revenue by delivering services more efficiently while reducing city utility expenses.”

Elder added Shreveport-Bossier can benefit from better analysis of how its citizens interact and engage in city services. And this is especially true as the demographics and residential areas of the city change.

During his presentation, Elder pointed to some crucial elements required to make Shreveport-Bossier achieve Smart City status, such as using data and technology to make better decisions; the necessary pieces for a Smart City technology ecosystem, like IT players, energy and infrastructure; and the challenges for technology.

The last item included factors such as cyber-physical systems; the volume, velocity, variability drive efficiencies of big data and data analytics; and citizen engagement, meaning dialogue between cities and citizens.

Elder concluded that the area should start by addressing its most significant challenges, install middleware and cloud services to exploit data, drive decisions with analytics, collaborate and form partnerships, and engage the public.

“Collaboration is critical — partnerships are key,” Elder’s presentation summed up. “Citizen engagement promotes citizen activism, which offers unbounded economic and social advantages for both public and private organizations.”

Elder currently conducts research in the areas of command and control, deterrence, escalation control, competition short of armed conflict, crisis managements, and international actor decision-making. He is also active with the Strategic Alternatives Consortium at LSU Shreveport, the Louisiana Military Affairs Committee, the National Defense Industrial Association’s Red River Regional Chapter and Cyber Augmented Operations Division, the Air Force Association, the Shreveport-Bossier Military Affairs Council, and the Louisiana Tech Engineering and Science Foundation.

The AFCEA ArkLaTex Chapter is focused around the Air Force Global Strike Command, Eighth Air Force, 2d Bomb Wing, 307th Bomb Wing (AFRES), 2d Communications Squadron, 608th Air Communications Squadron, local communications- centric businesses, local civic leaders, academia and industry partners.