Smart port initiative announced

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards yesterday announced an innovative agreement between the Port of New Orleans, Louisiana Economic Development, and The Water Institute of the Gulf that will support port activities and serve as a model for ports across the state and beyond.

“We are excited to announce the smart port initiative of LED, the Water Institute of the Gulf, and the Port of New Orleans, which will serve as a model for the future of maritime commerce in Louisiana,” Gov. Edwards said. “This project will provide better protection of our ports against threats and disruptions. It also will streamline operations for the port, its tenants and transportation partners. I’m proud of our joint efforts to raise the bar for emergency management, safety and innovation in Louisiana.”

During a visit from FEMA Administrator, Peter T. Gaynor, to Baton Rouge on Monday, Governor Edwards presided over the signing of a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) between the three partners that will pave the way for developing a decision support tool to forecast shoaling at Port facilities along the Mississippi River.

“Disaster preparedness is a year-round responsibility and today’s agreement will help Louisiana be more prepared before a storm hits. Thank you to the State of Louisiana for your continued partnership as we help people before, during and after disasters,” FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor said.

Ultimately, this work will greatly reduce financial and operational uncertainty related to downtime at berths where shoaling prohibits vessel access as well as predicting future dredging needs.

Part of the novelty of this forecasting tool is that it will use near real-time data provided by existing sensors aboard tugboats and other vessels that work in the port and surrounding area to provide information about Mississippi River sediment movement and deposition.

This crowd-sourced information from the tug fleet can be used in predictive models that will help the Port of New Orleans anticipate dredging needs so that they can continue to provide safe and economically optimal berthing for commercial vessels.

Because this methodology will rely on the existing vessel sensors, it is scalable to other riverine ports in Louisiana and beyond, strengthening the stability of these vital components of our state’s economy. The information can also be fed back to Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to improve Mississippi River sediment management.

Photo: USACE