Introducing Nomadik AI

The United States metro areas face a seemingly insurmountable crisis - homelessness. In 2013 the US Government implemented the Housing First model as a one-size-fits-all to homelessness. It was the first in a string of overarching decisions that lacked empirical evidence and data to support the cause and effect mechanisms inherent in the complex problem. People are suffering on the streets, not receiving the support they deserve. The administration promised it would end homelessness by 2023 which fueled a guess and check mentality to solve the issue, but it led to inflating the administrative costs and tens of billions spent in public and private resources. It is 2024 and the issue is boiling over. The population has become desensitized to daylight theft, squalor on crowded sidewalks, open drug use in view of schools, violence and human behavior with similarities to a post-apocalyptic world. We can all point to a list of probable compounding factors: rising cost of living, lack of affordable housing, the opioid crisis, lack of access to mental health care, and on and on. One thing is certain: we are not utilizing the advancements in data science, systems modeling, and machine learning, to show how these factors affect homelessness. We are not aggregating disparate information sources nor are we providing a baseline for cause and effect behaviors to assist in diagnosing these issues. We are not using the tools and technology available to diagnose this major societal injustice. Nomadik is here to solve that. 

Figure 1. Estimated number of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Austin (ECHO).

The founders of Nomadik have spent the last few years building an unparalleled skill set in practical AI/ML frameworks, computer vision, optical modeling, and geospatial intelligence and are now applying these skills to address the nationwide issue of homelessness, starting in their own backyard - Austin, Texas. The data that surrounds this issue is fragmented, disconnected, dated, or in most cases does not exist. Nomadik wants to democratize the solution; all it takes is a smart phone. Our soon to be released Android and iOS app will make sending images, videos, and any other related information to the platform as simple as possible. Nomadik processes the incoming data and provides an up-to-date situational awareness map, from locations of camps and debris to resources available to the homeless. 

Figure 2. Estimated number of people experiencing sheltered homelessness in Austin (ECHO).

What users provide us is what’s known as point-in-time geospatial data. Contrary to popular belief, there is not one centralized machine learning network, or AI, performing the analysis seen on our website, but a multitude of small, purpose built models. This strategy enables us to use isolated and domain agnostic data to train individual models to complete small tasks, simultaneously breaking down the complexity of the bigger picture, and ensuring robustness and the isolation of sensitive data. These specialized models allow us to build an accurate picture of features such as camp boundaries, debris levels, hazard levels, and more. Given that submitted data is location tagged point-in-time information we are able to feed the state of the region over time to further models that forecast specifics such as impact of outreach and available resources or hazard impacts to local areas.

Figure 3. System capacity by year (ECHO).

We will be partnering with non-governmental organizations, public service providers, law enforcement, and anyone else who wants to get involved to drive effective and efficient resource management for the most disadvantaged in our communities. The current process is broken, lack of data and manpower makes concentrating efforts a monumental task. Austin’s budget to address homelessness is more than $500 million, funded through both federal programs, as well as local tax dollars and private donations. Despite massive funding efforts the homeless population continues to increase while resources are strained trying to keep up, especially within housing. In 2021 the estimated unsheltered homeless population was just over 2,000 people (figure 1) and the sheltered population around 550 (figure 2), with a total housing system capacity of 3,500 beds (figure 3), a person to bed ratio of around 1:1.5. In 2023 the estimated unsheltered homeless population was over 5,500 (figure 1) people and the sheltered population around 1150 (figure 2), with a total housing system capacity of 4,250 beds (figure 3), with the person to bed ratio now being around 1.7:1. In 2021 there were more than enough beds for the entire homeless population of Austin, TX, since then the population has tripled with housing resources unable to keep up. The Austin Police Department exhausts their budget directed towards homelessness at what amounts to addressing 109 individuals. The city has managed to close less than 50 of the more than 180 known camps throughout the city and the point-in-time counts continue to be an antiquated system to understand the state of the city at any given moment.

Nomadik is going to bridge these gaps, by providing the most comprehensive platform on this crisis to ensure that those doing the groundwork have the clearest picture possible when trying to make a difference. By democratizing outreach we expand the understanding of these camps past the resource constrained organizations tasked with the monumental task of helping those in the community and ensuring our cities remain safe and clean. Changes in camps, from population, to debris levels, to disposition are data points resource providers and the city need to properly respond to a situation that requires proper resource allocation. The same information is vital to those who live in the communities affected by the presence of encampments, whether that be hazardous materials leaking into the water supply, presence of criminal activity, or elevated levels of fire danger. By having a system that enables everyone to contribute and gives everyone access to the same information we can work towards better solutions to address this humanitarian crisis.

Sign up for our beta on our website to get involved.

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