Exploring Benefits and Opportunities in Smart Iñupiat Communities on the Alaskan North Slope

This planning grant will launch interdisciplinary research into the design of telecommunications systems that support the economic, scientific, and socio-cultural needs of Iñupiat Arctic communities on Alaska’s North Slope. The Arctic is facing unprecedented changes, from rapid environmental shifts to increased globalization. New technologies and enhanced connectivity offer one set of tools to empower communities to respond to these changes. In spite of strong interest in telecommunications by Arctic states, significant gaps remain in our understanding of how digital infrastructures can be designed to best support the unique needs of Arctic communities. The following are key questions: 1. How can telecommunications infrastructure be paired with new sensing technologies to produce Smart Arctic Communities better able to respond to changing environmental and social conditions? 2. What are the socio-cultural implications of increased connectivity for Arctic Indigenous communities? 3. How might connectivity be paired with digital services to support education and Indigenous knowledge systems? To answer these questions, funding will be used to bring together a unique interdisciplinary team for a series of six workshops in Anchorage, Utqiagvik, and Anaktuvuk Pass. At each location researchers will work with technology practitioners and community stakeholders to identify current technology conditions and community needs. These results will be used to submit full research proposals to the NSF Navigating the New Arctic and Smart and Connected Communities Programs.

Grant Info


Kurtis Heimerl


Joshua Smith

Start Date

Jan 1, 2019