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Through the development of a decision-support tool to forecast shoaling at port facilities along the Mississippi River, SmartPort will improve port operations and benefit a variety of stakeholders.
The Water Institute of the Gulf has been awarded a $1.6m grant for the development of a Lower Mississippi River SmartPort & Resilience Centre (SmartPort).
This federal award from the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Agency adds to $1.4m in matching funding from the State of Louisiana and other partners involved in this $3m collaborative project.
Through the development of a decision support tool to forecast shoaling at port facilities along the Mississippi River, SmartPort will improve port operations and benefit a variety of stakeholders who need to understand how sediment builds up in the Mississippi River.
“With the SmartPort initiative, Louisiana is taking a major leading role in bringing technological efficiencies to maritime commerce,” said John Bel Edwards, governor of Louisiana.
“Louisianans are keenly aware of the vital role the Mississippi River plays in our history, our economic successes, and our future. This grant from the US Economic Development Administration is an affirmation that [it], too, understand[s] the role that safe, efficient river-based transportation plays in the broader US economy. With the support of ports along the river, the SmartPort programme will help us set a new standard for safety and emergency management.”
“SmartPort will use data and analytics to improve business continuity and preparedness which will better enable Louisiana ports to respond to disasters”
The real-time shoaling forecast tool will be coupled with a suite of weather, river, and road traffic analytics to improve efficiency and help the region’s ports become more resilient in the face of future natural disasters and economic shocks.
“President Biden is committed to unleashing the full power of the federal government to ensure our nation not only recovers from this pandemic but builds back better,” added secretary of commerce Gina Raimondo. “SmartPort will use data and analytics to improve business continuity and preparedness, which will better enable Louisiana ports to respond to disasters and prepare for future economic challenges.”
Along with these advanced analytics, customised resilience dashboards will be created and maintained for the ports of Lake Providence, Madison, Vidalia, Baton Rouge, South Louisiana, New Orleans, St Bernard, and Plaquemines.
The dynamic tools will assist in tracking progress and adaptively managing port resilience. Along with the digital platform, this $3m investment will culminate in a new SmartPort facility to be housed on the Water Campus in Baton Rouge.
“With the support of ports along the river, the SmartPort programme will help us set a new standard for safety and emergency management”
The facility will serve as a specialised emergency operation centre for ports when needed and a place for the exchange of information during non-emergency times.
In addition to supporting Louisiana’s port and navigation sectors, the data collected from the fleet of tugs, barges and other working Mississippi River vessels will be shared with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) to benefit the coastal programme.
Mike Miner, the institute’s director of applied geosciences, serves as the principal investigator for the real-time shoaling forecast tool, and Scott Hemmerling, director of human dimensions, will lead the development of customised and interactive resilience strategies for the eight ports.
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