Across Acadiana, companies are using “Smart City” technology to power new projects and grow their business. In Acadiana, Smart City projects include real-time air quality monitoring and telehealth systems. We’re proud to showcase the 1A investors and partners who are making Smart City technology a reality in the region.
What Exactly Are Smart Cities?
Smart Cities are cities that use information technology (IT) to improve citizen quality of life, support economic development, and increase city resiliency and sustainability.
According to Brian Miles, CGI Senior Consultant, “Smart City projects use data to inform decision-makers and make better use of taxpayer resources.” Smart City solutions often involve Internet of Things (IoT) technologies such as air quality sensors, traffic signal and street light control systems, and water sensors in sewers and streams. With these data, cities can make better use of existing infrastructure and provide the information needed to help plan for future development.
How Lafayette General Health is Using Smart City Technology to Change Health Care Delivery
The health care industry is one sector in Acadiana that is using Smart City technology to improve quality of life and improve workforce productivity. Telehealth, or the use of telecommunication and information technologies to remotely diagnose and treat minor illnesses and to monitor chronic illnesses, offers patients new options for health care delivery. According to Cian Robinson, Executive Director of the Lafayette General Foundation, “Telehealth means going to patients where they are. This practice keeps kids in school, out of the ER and keeps parents at work. We can treat minor issues at school.”
The practice is not happening only in schools. Over the past few years, Lafayette General Health (LGH) has formed partnerships with Stuller, Inc. and Lafayette Consolidated Government (LCG) to bring telehealth options to the workplace. “LGH is using Lafayette as a laboratory for what is possible. Our partnerships with Stuller, Lafayette Parish Schools, St. Martin Parish Schools, and LCG help push the envelope of what is possible in health care delivery,” says Robinson. The telehealth projects are seeing positive results, including reduced workplace absenteeism from illness.
In a pilot telehealth program at a St. Martin Parish elementary school, the program reduced absences from illness by 50%.
Fewer absences “means students learning more and parents staying at work. We expect to see increases in student achievement and test scores because students miss less school,” says Robinson. Based on the success of the pilot program, LGH, with the support of a James M. Cox Foundation grant and Cox Communications in Acadiana, will be expanding telehealth into all St. Martin Parish schools.
Live-Time Air Quality Monitoring to Build the Next Generation Smart City Workforce
Through a collaboration with K-12 and higher education partners, LCG, and others, CGI is monitoring air quality and teaching students about how to apply STEM principles to air quality projects. The Lafayette Engagement and Research Network (LEaRN) Smart City Air Challenge is a community collaborative focused on deploying low-cost air quality sensors throughout Lafayette and making the data freely available to the public. The hope is to use the experience to improve knowledge about air quality while also teaching STEM principles. Collaborative projects like this one help prepare students for STEM jobs.
Education is a key component of both the telehealth and live-time air quality monitoring projects. Both LGH and CGI are collaborating with education partners to build a Smart City workforce while implementing their project. According to Paul Molbert, VP of Clinical Integration at LGH, “We are working with allied health professionals at UL, LSUE and SLCC to help train students in an integrated approach. Through this partnership, we help kids get used to telehealth, train students, and keep parents in the workforce.”
Bridging the Digital Divide
For CGI, bridging the digital divide is part of their social responsibility mission. CGI staff are committed to volunteering their time to introduce technology to populations of people who are currently underrepresented in STEM programs, including minorities, women, and the economically disadvantaged. Will LaBar, Vice President at CGI, notes that, “Our goal is to harness the full power and potential of this workforce for the benefit of the economy and the future of our community.”
Smart Cities projects are growing in Acadiana. We’re excited to highlight the Smart City projects our investors are working on to help move our region forward.