LSU Researchers Collaborate for Smart City Project

During the summer of 2018, School of Art faculty members and students assisted with community outreach for the Smart, Safe, Connected Baton Rouge project. The interdepartmental project, led by School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Professor Seung-Jong Jay Park, brings together an interdisciplinary team of LSU researchers working to solve public safety and transportation challenges.

The project mission is to improve Baton Rouge and the Capitol Region, using LSU research expertise and community partnerships to jointly develop and implement Smart, Safe & Connected Technologies. The multidisciplinary research team, spanning computer science, electrical and computer engineering, social sciences, and art & design, is developing cyberinfrastructure for the Smart and Connected Community research project, which seeks to address public safety and transportation issues.

The community engagement team included LSU digital art assistant professors Derek Ostrenko and Hye Yeon Nam, digital art student Jack Bentley, summer REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) student Jacob Shelton, and LSU Center for Computation & Technology, and Smart City researchers. Community engagement goals included developing and designing public installations and visualizations, as well as displaying outcomes for outreach and community engagement.

“It was a great opportunity to collaborate on outreach for Professor Park’s Smart, Safe, Connected Baton Rouge project for the community,” Nam said.

The School of Art team members helped design the Smart City website, develop crime map visualization in three different formats, and build installations. They used College of Art & Design technologies, such as the laser cutter from the Design Shop and a CNC router at the Fabrication Factory to create the visualization of the Mississippi River section near Baton Rouge. LSU landscape architecture assistant professor Brendan Harmon collaborated to help plan and build installations.

The river influence was chosen “because of the historic basis in forming and involvement with the river,” digital art candidate Jack Bentley said. Once the design was chosen, Jack created a 3D model, and then Professor Nam laser-cut and assembled the parts, and Professor Ostrenko put it together into a small prototype display with LEDs inside.

Jack also worked on the Smart City project website. “I designed and showed concepts for the pages using a site design program, and then implemented feedback received at weekly meetings,” he said.

“The intent of the site is to provide a kind of intro to the content for community engagement purposes, to either get folks interested or provide a look at what’s being done without having to dive straight into research papers or proposals,” he explained. The website includes crime map and traffic visualizations created from the research data used, such as deep learning traffic identification software.

Jack also helped sketch out some designs for a community bench, he shared. “The base design came from the Fisk river maps showing the different paths the Mississippi has taken, and the section that was chosen goes through Baton Rouge. Nam & Derrick’s eventual goal is to use the design within another proposal as part of a full-sized community pavilion or bench, so I went with the section of the map next to Baton Rouge, which provides an interesting shape and allows you a platform to display all sorts of data or surrounding city.”

A community event was held on August 17, 2018 at the Water Campus with other researchers, community members, and stakeholders.