Press Release – Technology Meets Tradition in Navajo Housing Authority Floodplain Project


Press Release

Technology Meets Tradition in NHA Floodplain Project

June 27, 2013

Fillmore, CA


When the Navajo Housing Authority (NHA) wanted to more efficiently plan for the construction of homes on its 27,000 square mile territory, it looked to the past and the future. Blending traditional Navajo values with state-of-the-art satellite imaging, database, and terrain modeling technologies, the NHA conducted an innovative floodplain mapping project. The results from this study will help determine feasible locations for new homes, infrastructure, and fulfill HUD requirements while protecting lives and property in the future.


“NHA is committed to building sustainable quality homes that encompass the Navajo traditional values of family, growth, strength and beauty as is the premise in our Vision and Mission Statement,” says Aneva Yazzie, Chief Executive Officer of Navajo Housing Authority in Window Rock, Arizona, “The land information management system stemmed from the genius thinking of my realty staff, Mr. Michael Paisano, who shared this vision in 2008 which I supported wholeheartedly, and made sense from a strategic planning perspective for the benefit of our People.”

According to Nadine Clah, IT Analyst/GIS Coordinator for the NHA – who brings 14 years of GIS and IT experience from the Gila River Indian Community headquartered in Sacaton, Arizona – three different technology organizations are playing critical roles in the ongoing project:


URS Corporation. A leading provider of engineering, construction and technical services, URS conducted the floodplain analysis project. As part of this project, URS developed an Esri© ArcGIS Online application to provide NHA stakeholders updated information regarding the project.


AeroMetric. A full-service geospatial solutions company, AeroMetric performed the aerial photography and digital imaging for the project. This data, which includes detailed digital elevation data and four-band orthoimagery, was used to create a comprehensive digital land base for NHA’s GIS database. AeroMetric’s outstanding work on this project earned them a MAPPS Geospatial Services Excellence Grand Award.


Solid Terrain Modeling. Using the imagery captured by AeroMetric, Solid Terrain Modeling created 6’ x 8’ three-dimensional geospatially accurate terrain models of the entire Navajo land area. By physically reproducing the characteristics of the Navajo land formations, these models show NHA and Navajo Council members exact land features and associated hazards that potentially affect the Navajo People. This visual interpretation of their data clearly communicates the importance of the NHA’s ongoing project, giving everyone a better understanding of how to use the nation’s resources more effectively.


“Although the Navajo Nation is very large, approximately 60% of the land is not buildable,” says Clah. “Part of what we’re doing with this project is educating our people to the fact that we can’t just build anywhere. In particular, the 3D models from Solid Terrain Modeling allow us to visually show our Navajo council members what the land looks like and where we can feasibly build.”

The NHA is also working in collaboration with other Navajo Nation entities to bring together existing mapping technology to help locate electrical lines, water, economic areas, roads and other important information.


Solid Terrain Modeling will showcase the NHA models at the Esri© Int’l User Conference, taking place at the San Diego Convention Center, July 8–11, 2013. Learn more at:

Nadine Clah, IT Analyst/GIS Coordinator for the NHA, will be presenting with Dave Turk of URS at the Esri© Survey Summit being held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego on July 7, 2013.


About NHA

The Navajo Housing Authority (NHA) is the Navajo Nation Tribally Designated Housing Entity pursuant to the requirements of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) of 1996. NHA is the largest Indian housing authority in the country, and is approximately the tenth largest public housing authority in the country. The residential units are dispersed across three states – Arizona, New Mexico and Utah – under the jurisdiction of the Navajo Nation. Fifteen field offices are managed by the Navajo to deliver service to tribal members residing within 110 Chapters and their surrounding communities. The NHA is committed to building sustainable quality homes, promoting economic self-sufficiency, and providing the Navajo Nation with exemplary services through professionalism, leadership and respect.


About Solid Terrain Modeling

Solid Terrain Modeling, Inc. designs and manufactures large-format 3D terrain models with unprecedented accuracy, realism and beauty. These geospatially accurate models can be held and touched, bringing the terrain to life for planners, educators, government officials, and others who make critical land-use decisions. These GIS-based custom models can highlight any geographic area on earth by integrating a combination of aerial or satellite imagery, maps, photos, graphics and text. They are utilized worldwide by a broad scope of industries including mining, museums, parks, law firms, emergency response, land management offices, developers, transportation agencies, utilities, architects, military, and federal, state and municipal agencies.



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