Finding Temporary Housing for Disaster Victims

In response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Congress mandated HUD create a system that provides a national housing inventory to support the relocation of displaced homeowners. The National Housing Locator System (NHLS), developed by Citizant, supports hundreds of end users representing multiple Federal agencies and state and local first responders.  NHLS retrieves data from 30+ commercial and 4,000+ public housing authorities nationwide and uses GIS technology and Google Maps to depict housing available for people displaced by a disaster/

Citizant used an alternative application development approach, using Web 2.0 technologies, to deliver the first phase of this award-winning, multi-agency system within 3 months. Our technical personnel developed a case-management tool to help disaster-recovery specialists track and update housing referrals, and a Web service tool that allowed other agencies to embed NHLS housing data into their applications.  Our team’s innovative approach included developing a prototype and using an incremental SDLC with phased system releases to reduce technical risk and adapt to evolving end user requirements.

Other innovations include:

  • Using SOA to leverage existing data sources, enable re-use, and ensure centralized functionality
  • Implementing a service interface to capture available commercial and government housing data
  • Using industry-standard data formats (XML, XSD) to allow for easy exchange interface integration with new providers
  • Developed geospatial visualization for NHLS using Google Maps APIs that integrated with other data sources to display mission-critical information such as local schools, public safety facilities, and shelter locations.

We employed ITIL, CMMI-DEV ML3-compliant processes, and PMBOK best practices in project management, service provision, and quality control/project support functions — resulting in reduced cost, reduced risk, and enhanced service and deliverable quality. Citizant used ANSI/EIA Standard 748A-compliant EVMS reporting to track and monitor the level of effort and costs against approved budgets at the subtask level.

We developed and performed computer, classroom and Web application training to facilitate training and information sharing; and trained more than 200 NHLS end users within HUD and FEMA, using classroom and virtual training.

Citizant’s HUD NHLS support was recognized with three industry awards:

  • Intergovernmental Solutions Award from the American Council for Technology
  • Government Computer News agency award
  • CIO Magazine CIO 100 Award.