General Informatics Breaks Ground On @Highland

General Informatics founder and CEO Mo Vij broke ground this morning on @Highland, his new mixed-use office park located on nine acres at the intersection of Highland Road and Bluebonnet Boulevard.

More than two years in the planning, @Highland promises to be unlike any other development in the local market, with a campus-like atmosphere and eco-friendly design akin to those of Silicon Valley tech companies.

General Informatics will be the anchor tenant of the development, which will have office, retail, restaurant and residential space in four low-rise buildings nestled up against the Bluebonnet Swamp. The company will be located in the first of the four buildings—a $20 million, 54,000-square-foot glass and steel office structure that will be developed before the other three.

“This is going to be the most expensive building in Baton Rouge per square foot because we had to build around the surroundings—we’re preserving all the wetlands,” Vij says. “We will develop buildings two, three and four as demand materializes.”

Though General Informatics will be the first of what Vij hopes will be several tech companies to locate in the new development, @Highland is being marketed as a “lifestyle business park,” rather than as a tech park because it opens up the development to more possibilities, Vij says.

“My initial idea was to create a center of excellence for everything we do,” he says. “So if we’re going to do food here we want John Besh. That is our vision—to have the best of everything.”

At today’s groundbreaking, Vij also unveiled General Informatics’ newest technology—a handheld device called Gismo that serves as a communications hub for law enforcement officers in the field. It will enable officers to communicate with 911, issue e-tickets and e-citations, read license plates and access databases to check for prior arrests and outstanding warrants, among other things.

Gismo builds on an existing technology that General Informatics developed several years ago and is already selling to law enforcement agencies, including several in Louisiana. But the older version is only able to issue e-tickets. Gismo links several systems and databases in a single platform.

“Right now, officers carry one device for ticketing, another device for talking to the dispatch, a laptop to check databases,” Vij says. “This is the only device they need.”

General Informatics is also developing augmented reality glasses that work with the Gismo technology. Microsoft developed the hardware for the glasses; General Informatics has developed the software and applications. At this point, the glasses—like all augmented reality glasses—are a clunky, and Vij says they’re more of a novelty than an actual product the company is ready to sell.

But he says Microsoft continues to improve on the design of the glasses, making them smaller and lighter, and as the hardware becomes more practical, Vij believes the possibilities for a company like General Informatics are limitless.

“Public safety is the first market for this technology but we can imagine markets for all sorts of industries and professions,” he says.

-Stephanie Riegel
Greater Baton Rouge Business Report