A Smarter City: Increasing Safety And Government Transparency In Baton Rouge, Louisiana

August 20, 2018
baton rouge smarter city

How can a city take strides toward becoming a smart city? For the US state of Louisiana’s capital city of Baton Rouge, a key goal was to increase transparency and accountability in government operations for the city’s 227,000 residents, as well as keeping their city safe. Their various departments needed access to all relevant geospatial as well as business data, historical as well as current, without requiring their users to be GIS experts to view and analyze data in a map.

City's Challenges – Reporting of Service Calls, Lost Revenue, and Crime Data – All require Location “Puzzle Piece”

The Mayor-President’s Office and the District Attorney of Baton Rouge needed the ability to analyze their service calls for the location of blighted properties, or land that is in a dilapidated, unsafe, or unsightly condition. To request service for a neighborhood problem like graffiti or potholes, citizens can call the 311 non-emergency phone number. The city wanted to better track the 311 calls that specifically related to blighted properties, because to these officials, dealing with blighted properties was a step toward reducing crime and thereby improving the quality of life. This required a tool to combine data and locations to focus in on blighted areas.
 
Second, the Finance Department was not actively using location data, which made it difficult for them to show where and how much council districts were losing in terms of tax- exempt revenues. They wanted to accurately answer council district questions on the amount of funds that were being lost due to tax exemptions – the specific amounts, by location.

Finally, public safety officials needed to analyze all the city’s crime data. A simple tool to understand and visualize the data was needed to be able to make better resource allocation decisions.

Simple Integration of City's Business and Geospatial Data

To solve their specific business problems, the City of Baton Rouge wanted a solution that would let them use their existing enterprise GIS data, in its native format, but also incorporate other data sources such as financial and 311 citizen request-for-service data. The city is using an Oracle Spatial enterprise database that it joined with different business data sets so that all the data would be accessible from M.App Enterprise. They purchased M.App Enterprise from Hexagon Geospatial to create their own Hexagon Smart M.Apps to help them better understand their city’s most pressing problems. Smart M.Apps combine the power of GIS with your specific business data by delivering compelling location-based business intelligence apps to any device.

smart m.app blighted properties

The Blighted Properties Smart M.App analyzes 311 data on blighted properties for planning blight eradication programs.

Map-Centric Dashboards make it Easy to get Answers

M.App Enterprise from Hexagon Geospatial is helping the City of Baton Rouge accomplish its goals. According to Warren Kron, GIS Manager at the Department of Information Services at the City of Baton Rouge, “We were very impressed by the cross- filtering capability of Smart M.Apps, allowing us to explore data using multiple charts simultaneously. This dynamic interaction provides several perspectives in one tool and avoids the
need for additional applications. On top of that, it eliminates possible confusion of what the user sees and ensures that all of the data being presented reflects the current filter settings.”

Usage-Based Pricing

“Another benefit in using M.App Enterprise is that it is implemented within our enterprise network, and the security is granular enough to control access down to a single user,” explains Kron. He continues, “As different types of users are working with M.App Enterprise – from GIS professionals to department managers – the usage-based pricing model provides equitable charging for infrequent usage.”
Implementation and training for M.App Enterprise was done remotely by Hexagon Geospatial and took only a couple
of days.

Extending Location-Based Solutions to Other Departments

Kron also has advice for other city officials wanting to help their city become a smart city: “Talk to Hexagon, provide a sample of your data, and see a demo Smart M.App view,” said Kron. Before creating your own view, which you configure without needing programming skills, “think thoroughly about the questions you want the Smart M.App to answer,” because that will determine what type of charts will best display the results of your data analytics in the form that you want to see.

Industrial Business Tax Exemption Smart M.App

The Industrial Business Tax Exemption Smart M.App assists in understanding where and how much council districts are losing in tax-exempt revenues.

M.App Enterprise has furthered progress in transparency and accountability in the government operations of Baton Rouge. The Smart M.Apps that can be built in M.App Enterprise are not only helping the Mayor-President’s Office and the District Attorney to analyze and visualize blighted property data, but they also empower the Finance Department to utilize the power of location by providing accurate answers about the loss of tax-exempt revenue by location.
The Industrial Business Tax Exemption Smart M.App assists in understanding where and how much council districts are losing in tax-exempt revenues.

The city plans to extend the use to other departments to help them answer additional location-based questions, from crime to traffic incident analytics, and is well on its way toward becoming a smart city.

crime smart m.app

The Crime Smart M.App will be used to support decision making on crime reduction programs.

To learn more about M.App Enterprise, visit here.

To learn more about Feature Analyzer Smart M.Apps, visit here.

Reach out for more information on Hexagon Geospatial's suite of solutions here.

Nele Coghe is the Product Marketing Manager in the Hexagon Geospatial Leuven, Belgium, office.

Laura Samaras is an Information Architect in the Hexagon Geospatial Huntsville, AL, office.

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