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John came to Shreveport in January of 1977 when he was transferred to Barksdale AFB.

He’s been active in Shreveport politics since deciding to make Shreveport his home.

John practiced law for 40 years and he now monitors local politics. He regularly attends Shreveport City Council and Caddo Parish Commission meetings.

John is published weekly in The Inquisitor, bi-monthly in The Forum News, and frequently in the Shreveport Times.

He enjoys addressing civic groups on local government issues and elections.


Can A CTO Help Make Shreveport A Smart City?

For starters, the reference to a ‘smart city’ has nothing to do with IQ.

And a CTO is not to be confused with the iconic muscle car…the GTO.

A smart city is one that uses data collection sensors to supply information to manage assets and resources efficiently.

A CTO is a chief technology officer. Although specific job duties may vary, the primary task of a CTO is to use technology to improve the quality of life.

Newly inaugurated Shreveport mayor Adrian Perkins wants the city to have its first CTO. He has asked the city council to approve Keith Hanson for this position on Tues. Jan. 22.

Assuming the council accommodates the mayor, what can be expected from Hanson as CTO?

Without infringing on Perkin’s priorities for this position, there are several smart city practices that can be considered. These are not detailed in any particular order, nor is this an all-inclusive list. And some are not rocket science.

Synchronization of traffic lights on major city arteries would be welcome. Line Avenue beginning at Jordan and going south would be a great start.

No one knows how many people use each of the 62 city parks.. Obviously some are visited much more frequently than others. But how many have so few visitors that closing the park should be seriously considered?

The city must pay for the water it uses on public properties because DOWUS is an enterprise fund. Could city sprinkler systems be better managed? Last year SPAR spent over $154 thousand on water for Independence Stadium alone.

And how about Shreveport’s electricity bills at Independence Stadium (last year almost $244,000), Municipal Auditorium, Festival Plaza, Riverview Park and the 52 city owned facilities. Can smart practices reduce usage?

Shreveport recently received a $600 thousand grant from the Louisiana Public Service Commission to install LED bulbs in many city facilities. This will reduce labor and electricity charges for years to come.(A big thanks to Commissioner Foster Campbell is certainly merited for this help.)

And then there is economic development, which is sorely needed by Shreveport. Having a key contact person to assist businesses that want to expand, start up or relocate to Shreveport that need technological assistance will be a big plus.

Bossier City has certainly leveraged the Cyber Innovation Center to obtain new businesses and good jobs. Shreveport is definitely behind in this arena .

The old Selber’s building in downtown Shreveport is home to Venyu Cloud, the state’s only three-tier data center. This highly secure information technology center is a good example of high tech businesses that Perkins hopes to attract to Shreveport.

Like all cities, Shreveport 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.

Real-world knowledge applications can provide insights into why people are where they are. And predict much faster and accurately where they will be in future months and years. Everything from crime patterns, street traffic, and business expansion can not only be tracked but predicted with these applications.

And then there is the all important upcoming 2020 census which will have substantial impact on re-districting of the Shreveport city council, the Caddo Parish school board and the Caddo Commission…as well as state and federal funding for governmental entities. Preparations to insure the most accurate count for the city of Shreveport could be a task for the CTO.

Yes, Virigina…there is a big need for a Chief Technology Officer for the city of Shreveport. Hopefully this will be a done deal at the next council meeting!

(This article was published in The Inquisitor on Friday, January 18, 2019.)

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