Gov. Edwards, FEMA discuss hurricane preparedness; announce new port partnership

Gov. Edwards news conference on hurricane preparedness

BATON ROUGE, La. (WVUE) -Gov. John Bel Edwards Monday announced a Louisiana Smart Port Initiative that will streamline operations and improve safety through real-time data shared by port administrators, tenants, shippers, and warehouse, cargo and ground transportation providers.

Louisiana Economic Development is coordinating the smart port initiative with The Water Institute of the Gulf and the Port of New Orleans.

The Water Institute of the Gulf will guide technical solutions for the project, with the Port of New Orleans providing seed funding and serving as the pilot port for the project. LED is pursuing federal infrastructure funding to complete the project. Gov. Edwards announced the project during a visit by FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor to the Water Campus in Baton Rouge, where the Water Institute is based.

In the initial smart port phase, the Water Institute of the Gulf will install data sensors on tugboats and other vessels navigating the Port of New Orleans district. Sensors will detect sediment levels in shallow areas of the Mississippi River to promote safety and provide intelligence for future dredging decisions. Through a cooperative endeavor agreement signed Monday, the Port of New Orleans is providing $125,000 to the Water Institute to complete this initial project over a two-month period.

“We want to thank Governor Edwards, Louisiana Economic Development, and The Water Institute of the Gulf for their vision and partnership in making this smart port initiative a reality,” said President and CEO Brandy D. Christian of the Port of New Orleans. “As Louisiana’s international container port, Port NOLA is honored to participate in this innovative effort that boosts Louisiana’s maritime industry and competitiveness in global commerce. This collaborative endeavor is good news for all the Lower Mississippi River ports that rely on safe and efficient navigation of our working river.”

A second phase will digitally connect container depots, road transporters, dock terminals, shipping lines, warehouses and cargo operators to seamlessly coordinate the port’s supply chain. While this smart port phase will create a unified digital command at the New Orleans port and on the Water Campus, the project envisions the model being applied to ports across the state in the future. Louisiana Economic Development is pursuing federal funds to advance this second phase of the project.

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