Smart Port navigation of Mississippi River coming to port of Baton Rouge

(Courtesy Port of Greater Baton Rouge)

Smart Port, a crowd-sourced technology dashboard aimed at allowing ships to better navigate the lower Mississippi River, will soon be coming to the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. A major Smart Port center will also be located at the Baton Rouge Water Campus.

The Smart Port dashboard will provide eight ports from north Louisiana to Venice with a real-time shoaling tool and customized resilience strategies, which will allow any port or stakeholder on the river to access local weather forecasts, road traffic conditions coming in and out of the port and river traffic conditions, says Justin Ehrenwerth, CEO of the Water Institute of the Gulf.

Smart Port takes data from tugboats and other working vessels on the river to get a picture of what sediment buildup, or shoal, moving downriver looks like, Ehrenwerth says.

Sediment buildup is a major problem near lower areas of the river, and often emergency dredgers have to be brought in to take care of the issue. Smart Port would allow for more efficiency when it comes to a port’s dredging needs, Ehrenwerth says.

Smart Port’s physical center will be at the Baton Rouge Water Campus, Ehrenwerth says, and will allow the eight ports to collaborate, create a space for the Water Institute to improve the dashboard’s analytics and data and serve as a backup emergency operations center.

Smart Port began as a pilot project in the Port of New Orleans in summer 2020. The project is funded by a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Agency and a $1.4 million grant from the state. The estimated completion date of the project is summer 2023, Ehrenwerth says.