About the NSF CIVIC Innovation Challenge

The combined impacts of wildfires and subsequent post-wildfire floods have changed the lives and landscapes of New Mexico’s Native American Communities over the past 20 years. Native American communities, national and state agencies, university researchers, and others, have all stepped up to contribute to recovery efforts. Beyond recovery, researchers have also begun to initiate the process of fundamentally changing our approaches to building resilient communities and landscapes by learning from our Pueblo partners. Specifically, Pueblo communities have indicated through conversations with the research team that they can benefit from building and designing their own sensor networks, as opposed to using commercial off-the-shelf sensors. This paradigm shift empowers the community as the sensor builder and ultimately presents a new approach to enhancing community resilience where sensor solutions are designed and built by the community.

In this proposed research, Pueblo communities will build, design and implement their own Low-Cost Efficient Wireless Intelligent Sensors (LEWIS) networks. This self-built, customized, and distributed sensor network will inform Pueblo communities of trends and thresholds in landscapes that can help to prevent wildfires and provide critical information to early warning systems when wildfires and floods occur. We have assembled a diverse team, including Pueblo members, regional leaders, industrial partners, and academic researchers. The Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo in New Mexico will co-plan this project with researchers from four academic units of the University of New Mexico, consultants and evaluators, educators, the New Mexico Department of Transportation represented by the Tribal Liaison, and Native American Leaders in Native American Resilience in New Mexico. Our long-term vision is to develop a scientific community of practice that will share ideas, designs, and applications to build the resilience of tribal communities by co-developing capacity and communications related to low-cost sensor networks and decision support platforms throughout Native American Communities.