UNM receives Civic Innovation Challenge grant for forest fire resilience project: UNM Newsroom

The University of New Mexico is the recipient of one of $ 15.9 million in prizes awarded by the National Science Foundation as part of the Civic Innovation Challenge program.

UNM’s one-year, million-dollar project is called ‘Low Cost Effective Wireless Smart Sensors (LEWIS) for Better Preparedness and Resilience to Floods After Forest Fires in Communities Amerindians ”and is headed by Fernando Moreu, Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, Construction and the Environment.

The UNM team will be working with a LEWIS sensor prototype that was co-developed and co-designed earlier this year with Native American partners at Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo. The goal is to deploy many LEWIS sensors, allowing Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo to design and own its own wireless LEWIS sensor network.

The grants, awarded in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy, were awarded to teams across the country made up of local, state and tribal officials, as well as community and nonprofit leaders, to lead and evaluate projects that address challenges identified by the community. The Civic Innovation Challenge program is designed to find community-based solutions to challenges and make them sustainable, scalable, and transferable to other communities. The research team is already targeting collaborations with tribal communities in Alaska who will be informed of the results of this deployment.

The challenge is made up of two tracks. Track A, funded by NSF and the Department of Energy, focuses on communities and mobility, specifically offering better mobility options to address the spatial mismatch between affordable housing and jobs, as well as access to services such as food and childcare. Challenge projects will develop artificial intelligence-based decision support tools for food distribution during disasters, improve the post-flood financial resilience of low-income households and bridge the resilience gap in communities. through rural resilience centers.

The UNM project is part of Stream B, funded by NSF and the Department of Homeland Security, and focuses on resilience to natural disasters in the context of equipping communities for better preparedness and response after disasters such as floods, hurricanes and forest fires. Although forest fires are a key driver of ecological change in landscapes, changes affect the hydrology of watersheds and can lead to catastrophic flooding. This creates a need to develop proactive measures to prepare for and respond to forest fires and post-forest fire flooding. Many tribal communities in New Mexico are located within or downstream of forest regions, which places them in a unique position to be leaders in the development of wildfire responses.

The UNM project recognizes the potential of Native American communities to develop innovative adaptive solutions and they have chosen to focus on building partnerships with local tribes. This project will use local tribal knowledge and expertise to inform the joint development of low-cost sensor technologies. Moreu said the researchers will deploy more than 100 sensors and make the data available through an online portal and integrate training modules into teaching programs.

Stage 1 of the Civic Innovation Challenge awarded planning grants earlier this year to teams across the country to refine project concepts designed to solve use-related issues in their communities. In Stage 2, 17 of these teams were selected for prizes of up to $ 1 million to conduct and evaluate pilot projects ready for implementation within 12 months. The teams will also collaborate across the program, sharing approaches and positioning projects to have a wider impact.

“The teams selected for Stage 2 of the competition presented bold and exciting ideas for the mobility and resilience tracks of this challenge to help connect local communities to their work, school, healthcare and other utilities, ”the Acting Deputy Energy Secretary said. Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman. “The Ministry of Energy is honored to support these projects which will pilot equitable and accessible mobility solutions to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters and improve the quality of life of our communities. “

The co-principal investigators of the UNM Project grant are Mark Stone, Stamm Professor of Advanced Design and Construction Practices in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering; Carolyn Hushman, assistant professor in the College of Education and Humanities; Su Zhang, assistant research professor in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering and senior research engineer at the Earth Data Analysis Center; and Yolanda Lin, assistant professor of geography and environmental studies.

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