Looking Back at 2020

2020 was unprecedented.

There are few words to be said that haven’t already been said before. This past year was one of great challenge. Of course, challenge promotes opportunity which breeds innovation. We have already written about our ways of supporting the community through the landscape of COVID-19, so we would like to focus on growth instead. 2020 was a year of new beginnings with the launch of five new projects and a demo of our new artificial intelligence software. We are proud of what our team has achieved and look forward to continuing our practice of effective solutions with measurable outcomes.

Project Spotlights

USDA FAS Post Implementation Reviews

Kicking off 2020, Niyam successfully saw through its work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) to conduct Post Implementation Reviews for its two primary business systems, the Integrated Management Administrative Resource Tool (iMART) and the Production, Supply, and Distribution (PSD) System.

The Integrated Management Administrative Resource Tool (iMART) provides a single, centralized, customer-focused, operations management system. The primary benefit of iMART to FAS, and to the Department, is the unique ability to manage and integrate USDA’s strategic planning with human resources, logistics, and financial activities associated with overseas operations. The Production, Supply, and Distribution (PSD) system underpins the critical analysis and market intelligence that is foundational to the FAS mission of expanding U.S. agricultural exports through trade policy initiatives, marketing activities, and trade capacity projects. The PSD is the primary data system for global agricultural production, trade, consumption, and stocks.

For short term, the PIRs provide FAS and the USDA decision makers with key information. This will enhance the iMART and PSD systems performance to sustain their alignment with evolving FAS and USDA business needs. For long term, the PIRs can help to better inform capital investment and related program planning and budgeting decisions when selecting business case solution alternatives.

When all was said and done, we gave final deliverables one day early. The high degree of customer satisfaction with Niyam’s performance is reflected by comments received from the FAS Contracting Officer’s Representative: ”Great job by you and your team!” and the FAS PSD Project Manager: “Thanks for the high-quality effort and results!

Hazus – Salt Lake City Earthquake

On March 18, 2020, a 5.7 earthquake struck Salt Lake City, Utah. Thankfully, there were zero casualties as a result of the tremors, but our Hazus team was quick to act in order to conduct an economic loss evaluation in order to determine where the priority may lie for mitigation and relief. While the datasets that have been produced are not publicly available, insight into these numbers shine a light on an area that demands attention, unreinforced masonry buildings, or URMs. 

As stated by Geologists and Engineers for Earthquake Safety at Utah Earthquake Safety, “A URM is a building in which the primary supporting walls are brick, blocks, stone, adobe, or concrete (masonry) that does not have adequate steel or wood structural support to properly withstand shaking associated with a severe earthquake.” These structures are a greater risk of damage in the event of an earthquake or other seismic activity.

Our findings show that these unreinforced buildings received more damage due to the nature of their structure. Such findings support those that are emphasized by local Utah initiatives such as Fix the Bricks, a program to help repair Salt Lake URMs. We hope that with our data, we will help promote greater structural integrity to these buildings!

FEIMS ICAM

In May 2020, Niyam was granted a GSA contract with the Department of Homeland Security – FEMA to support the FEMA Enterprise Identity Management System (FEIMS), Identity, Credential and Access Management (ICAM) tools and Identity Management Application Management Support.

The general scope of this contract can be distilled into 3 main components:

  1. Continue uninterrupted systems operations and sustainment support for the FEMA Enterprise Identity Management System (FEIMS) and its components.
  2. Provide transition plan/strategy including archiving system documentation.
  3. Provide expert subject matter knowledge to support development and implementation of FEIMS data interfaces required for its components and access to all integrated applications.

As written in the publicly available Justification and Approval document:

“Niyam IT, Inc., is the only HUBZone firm that can properly perform the work and the transition in the allotted time available without disrupting the mission of FEIMS to include its components – ISIM/ISAM, the Trusted Identity Exchange (TIE) feed and Webseal. Awarding a bridge contract for the current FEIMS Sustainment support along with its components with Niyam IT is essential to the Agency’s mission of providing accurate, timely, and accessible response efforts to the public before, during, and after disasters.”

For this contract, Niyam welcomed Ken Kaplan as the Project Manager. Ken brings over 25 years of dedicated leadership experience working with cross-functional teams in the IT field, maintaining practical skills in software engineering, program, project and product management, cost planning, staff mentoring, team development, vendor and contract management both with government and commercial clients. Ken will no doubt be an asset to Niyam within the FEIMS project and beyond!

We are gracious and humbled to be recognized as a reputable firm that is known for getting the job done and getting it done right.  We look forward to continuing our growing working with FEMA as we provide our excellent services to those who are in need.

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency

In October, Niyam was awarded a project to provide the State of Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) an assessment of potential tsunami impacts based on FEMA’s Hazus model. With funding from the NOAA National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program (NTHMP), this study will provide mapping and analytics illustrating the potential for tsunami-induced economic and social losses based on an historic library of tsunami scenarios. This will provide all of Hawaii the data it needs to optimize their preventative measures and implement an improved disaster response plan for future tsunamis. Aloha indeed!

FEMA HMA

Also in October, we began work on another FEMA project, the Hazard Mitigation Assistance grants program (HMA). We are joining a team to support HMA in its goal to provide funding for initiatives that reduce disaster loss. This program exists to promote safer, more resilient communities with resource delegation that improves response time and speedier recovery actions. Our work will be in the continued improvement of the IT infrastructure of the program for optimal program management and process. The impact will in turn strengthening the communities who will be support by HMA.

TSA FAST

In November, Niyam began contributing to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Fast Scalable Agile Teams (FAST) program with emphasis on Salesforce technology stacks. The end goal of this project is to help modernize secure operations of the TSA in terms of both business and IT architecture. As we are just starting to dip our feet into this project, we are excited to see how it will continue to develop!

NOAA NMITS

Last but not least, in November, Niyam has also received work with another new project with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Specifically, we will be working on the NOAA Mission Information Technology Services (NMITS) program. NMITS enhances IT efficiency for NOAA in secure and cost-conscious efforts so that NOAA can focus on its own mission and goals without having to worry about the reliability of its technological resources. With NMITS, NOAA will have the tools it needs to serve its stakeholders, which include emergency management officials, research leaders, and the general public.

Community

ASFPM 2020

This year, Niyam attended the annual Association of State Floodplain Managers Conference as they shifted their focus to a virtual platform instead of in-person as was the plan before the current pandemic scenario. For three days, we joined other flood professionals during the 44th annual conference for this year’s theme, “Resiliency Where the West Begins”.

Not to be ones who slow down, we participated in their innovative new Virtual Exhibit Hall with our very own virtual booth, which can be viewable by attendees at this link. An abbreviated version of our booth is also available for non-attendees at asfpm.niyamit.com/.

Through our booth, we got the opportunity to demonstrate our new artificial intelligence/machine learning Flood Risk Advisor. This cutting-edge technology aims to address the challenges of the accessibility of the enormous amounts of environmental data being produced to address disaster management and climate change. The sheer volume of exponentially growing data produced from a variety of resources makes categorization, sharing, and analysis daunting for public agencies. How do we combat this?

Flood Risk Advisor

Our approach is with Intelligent Assistants. We believe that Intelligent Virtual Assistants can serve as a critical resource to address big data challenges faced by stakeholders preparing for and responding to floods. Life-like Intelligent Assistants use advanced AI and speech recognition technologies to enhance information flow for emergency managers and the public.

The Flood Risk Advisor answers flood risk questions in natural language by generating knowledge from authoritative data resources, thereby allowing the public to stay informed about flood risk in their community. We leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) to empower stakeholders with access to actionable knowledge – simply ask a question and the Flood Risk Advisor automatically finds and analyzes information from distributed data sources to give an answer in natural language. Our technology continuously improves by learning the relationship between flood risk questions and agency databases as they evolve.

Flood Risk Advisor can be integrated into any website as well as a wide range of communication channels for voice-enabled support, including Facebook Messenger, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, Skype, Slack, HoloLens, Oculus Go, HTC Vive, and more! We are looking forward to developing this project further for greater usage and distribution.

Continual Improvement

Inc. 5000

This year, Niyam was one of 28 businesses located in Loudoun County, Virginia to be featured in Inc. magazine’s annual Inc. 5000 list. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment—its independent small businesses. Intuit, Zappos, Under Armour, Microsoft, Patagonia, and many other well-known names gained their first national exposure as honorees on the Inc. 5000. Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at www.inc.com/inc5000. Niyam’s personal ranking can be found at www.inc.com/profile/niyam-it.

Red Hat Partnership

Adding to our growing list of partnerships is Red Hat, through their Regional System Integrator Program. This program offers benefits to assist in developing open source practices for Red Hat’s product portfolio, including Linux, hybrid cloud infrastructure, middleware, agile integration, cloud-native application development, and management and automation solutions. This program is intended for small and medium system integrators who provide services to federal, state, and local governments including education (university and K-12). Candidates for membership in the Regional System Integrator Program obtain over 50% of their total revenue from services.

HUBZone

Niyam IT has recertified itself as a HUBZone firm for the second year in a row. With this certification, we are able to have a broader scope of work where we can lend our expertise while also benefiting historically underutilized business areas. We look forward to continuing with this distinction to help our community!

ISO

It’s no secret that Niyam has been ISO 9001:2015 certified for some years now. However, it may be less known that we are in the process of adding additional ISO certifications to our credentials! While we are still in the process of certification (which is no simple task!), we are confident that this will be a positive experience for the company that will highlight not just our IT chops, but also our internal structures and governance. Stay tuned for more information in early 2021!

Looking Forward

New year brings new opportunity, not that we need an excuse to grow! This year has taught us that we are resilient as ever and march forward even with shifting landscapes. We pride ourselves in always learning and standing strong with whatever challenges may arise. With that, we wish everybody a happy 2021 and are hopeful for the future of our communities.

Long exposure of a sparkler spelling 2021
Photo by Theodor Eilertsen Photography on Unsplash

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