Why did we start Nomadik?

Prior to starting this journey we worked in defense tech building AI/ML solutions for the US Department of Defense (DoD), primarily the Navy and the Air Force. Defense tech is an interesting space as it provides the opportunity to work on issues completely off the radar of every other industry, especially when it comes to AI/ML. For those familiar with geospatial intelligence, or commercially GIS (geographic information systems), applying location and time data to almost any data type provides a wealth of information compared to having that data in a vacuum. After years of working with camera data, satellite data, and any other kind of temporal location data you can think of, we realized that this specific way of understanding large scale systems was mostly confined to the DoD and industries that used GIS. Not only that, but with the AI/ML explosion of the past few years we rarely saw companies applying the new state of the art to actual issues everyday Americans faced. 

Understanding the location helps understand the impact to the environment surrounding it.

Defense tech was still fairly novel when we started, but now sees an increased interest in the form of American Dynamism. Outside of this space, where AI/ML is being used to further national interests, the primary use cases seem to be entertainment, finance, customer service, and software development. The products being developed are extremely ground breaking and will super charge their respective industries however none of these address the issues you and I face in our day to day lives outside of work and entertainment. As we started to explore what societal issues we wanted to tackle we realized that all of the major issues in the US coalesce within homelessness: mental health, drug addiction, crime, violence, and not to mention homelessness itself. Combined with the fact that homelessness has seen a sharp increase post-COVID the field seemed like the logical choice to apply our talents to an issue where temporal location data actually provides extremely valuable insights. 

Processed Skyfi satellite data showing a construction site caused camp movement.

Current HMIS (homeless management information system) guidelines put forth by the US Department for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) collect client data at a basic level to coordinate access to local resources like shelters, housing, etc. They also require a point in time count (PIT) every two years for local jurisdictions. These two primary sources of data on homelessness exist on the opposite ends of the spectrum, granular client level data and macro picture counts that still rely on coordinating hundreds of volunteers for one day every year or two to attempt to get an accurate overall count. There does not exist anything in between, no one is measuring the impact of closing one camp and how that leads to some amount of new camps. No one is measuring how the opening or closing of a specific resource in an area affects local populations, businesses, and green spaces. 

The data as it stands exists in a vacuum with extremely understaffed agencies tasked with collecting it. The first step to the solution, the step we are taking, is democratizing outreach. Put the power of contribution and situational awareness into everyone's hands to augment the systems already in place. Apply temporal location data to that information and turn it from a random one off observation into useful information we can combine with all of our other sources to start to understand patterns and systems. 

Out in the camps with DASH.

Once we start to use our models to pull these patterns out we can start to address the root causes of issues. Look for upstream levers we can pull that have outsized downstream effects, beginning to act rather than react. The US has a $10 billion budget for homelessness, but they have no real way to quantify the effects that amount of money has on a problem as dynamic as this. With a data layer being fed by every citizen that seeks to help we can start to understand what works, what doesn’t, and how we can better allocate these funds, the policies, and the resources. 

Building American Dynamism

We saw a gap that needed to be filled. Not just in the tech space or the social services space, but in the US as a whole. A space that exists on the other side of the American Dynamism coin where advances in manufacturing, aerospace, energy, and defense require a strong, safe, and resilient society. A gap that requires bringing together aspects and technologies from those places and applying them to industries and systems that previously had never considered the use of something like geospatial intelligence to solve their problems. To push America forward we need to pull America back onto its feet.

You can help us model this issue by participating in our Android and iOS beta. As with any problem individuals, communities, and society as a whole faces, the more data you have the better you can understand and build solutions towards solving said problem.

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