Lakota Country Times: Rosebud housing program wins top award

GIS Technician Molina Richards accepted the award for the work done by Sicangu Wicoti Awayankapi in compiling maps to improve services on the Rosebud Reservation. Photo by Vi Waln

Rosebud’s Housing Program Wins National Award
By Vi Waln
Lakota Country Times Correspondent

ROSEBUD – The Sicangu Wicoti Awayankapi (SWA), which serves as the housing authority for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, received a national award for their work in developing electronic maps to improve services for tribal citizens.

The award recognized the creative and unique application of innovative technologies to enhance the tribe’s overall geospatial information support (GIS) capacity development for local project initiatives. SWA and RST staff were commended for their honorable and “cooperative relationship with community, academic and business.” The National Tribal Geographic Information Support Center praised SWA’s “dedication and sense of civic responsibility to your community.”

The award was presented based on the work of the Ojinjinkta Wanji (Rosebud One) Project. The program was established by tribal resolution in April 2015. Rosebud One is a tribal data sharing and integration initiative between SWA, Tribal Land Enterprises (TLE), Sicangu Oyate Land Office (SOLO) and the Information Technology department. The project was created to develop a central tribal clearinghouse to store data collected from various tribal programs, in order to streamline services to local residents.

Molina Richards, GIS Technician for the Rosebud One project, accepted the award on behalf of SWA at a conference held in Albuquerque NM last month. She has worked hard to create maps containing information on all of the housing units maintained by SWA.

“This program was initially authorized by Amos Prue, former SWA Executive Director,” Richards said. “We hosted several meetings to coordinate the collection of data.”

A sample map shows several “layers” built into the GIS used by tribal officials to enable them to locate infrastructure in a more efficient manner. This helps greatly improve services provided to tribal citizens. For instance, the legend shows where the electric poles, curb stop, water lines and propane tanks are located for each SWA housing unit. Image courtesy Sicangu Wicoti Awayankapi

Sinte Gleska University is another collaborator in this program. The tribal university has indicated a willingness to develop a GIS curriculum and offer courses to local students.

Today, the computer program which houses the data is stored on a server at the Tribal IT department in downtown Rosebud.

“Dion Reynolds, IT Director, did an excellent job building the server which currently houses all of our data,” Richards said. In addition, the E-911 project continues to incorporate physical addresses into the system at the IT Department. By collaborating with the E-911 program, houses and demographics are easily identified for fire departments, hospitals, police departments and homeland security. The system helps to make some tasks easier to complete by tribal workers.

For example, the data now in place enables an SWA maintenance worker to locate a variety of information on a housing unit through a GIS app on a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 android phone. The app will allow authorized users to determine exactly where a curb stop is located in the event that the water source needs to be turned off for repairs. Other information included are demographics identifying SWA housing units, such as 911 addresses assigned by the tribe, as well as the locations of utility poles, water lines, septic tanks, fire hydrants and propane tanks.

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Currently, SWA employees working in the inspection, occupancy, maintenance and construction departments use the GIS information in the course of their everyday jobs. Maintenance crews can track housing units needing repair using the app. The data will also allow authorized users to monitor the number of units that are inspected each month or year.

The information in the app continues to be expanded. There are many layers which could be added, according to Richards. Some of those could include the physical location of the homes where cancer and/or dialysis patients live. This information would better equip emergency service providers in reaching out to those who might need emergency transportation during inclement weather. In addition, the GIS information could be shared with public safety employees, such as police officers and emergency medical response teams, to help them quickly locate a home needing emergency services or transport.

For more information, please call SWA at 605-747-2203.

(Vi Waln is an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota Nation and is a nationally published journalist.)

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