Winyama presenting at the AWS Summit Canberra 2022

A West Australian Indigenous owned and operated IT consultancy company is helping to close the digital divide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities nationwide.

Winyama Digital Solutions utilises digital mapping and cloud technology to teach First Nations people the tech skills they need to collect and store data, manage and monitor land, and preserve language, culture, and traditional practices at a scale not before seen.

Founded by Ngarluma man and self-described nerd, Andrew Morumburri Dowding, who noticed there was gap in the sector after attempting to record place names into a geospatial platform with his Elders.

“That’s really where I got the passion and fever almost for tech in our communities. I could see that Elders were able to participate in the tech space and that the younger guys that we were working with too, they were taking this up and getting involved in a space that they’d never think that they’d have a career in.”

“I just got this fever for making sure that the Indigenous tech sector was really healthy and that there was training provided for people who wanted to continue that journey.”

Andrew is passionate about growing the Indigenous tech workforce through their own internship programs as well as upskilling community organisations, like Indigenous ranger groups and Native Title bodies, that already work in mapping and data collection through Indigenous Mapping Workshops.

He says it’s a flourishing sector but there isn’t enough tech-specific training out there for rangers.

“The ranger groups are all using drones, they’re using IoT devices and doing a lot of data collection out in the field. It’s all digital and they need places to store that stuff, but they also need training.

“There’s a lot of training around first aid and how to use chainsaws safely and things like that, but when it comes to the tech work that they actually do, there’s just not a lot of training for that and that’s the space that the Indigenous Mapping Workshop is really fulfilling.

“It’s like a capability building bootcamp, a tech bootcamp for rangers to begin to explore how to most efficiently use tech and how to build their capability if they’re the tech guy inside their ranger group.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have already begun using the tech space and cloud tools to manage heritage and cultural information, but Andrew says he’s starting to see it bleed over into the emergency services space as well.

“The fire management that’s happening out in country, people are using earth observation tools now to understand where fires have gone through so that they don’t manage those areas of country.

“They go to areas which haven’t been burned, and they use cultural burning to manage those areas, those fire regimes in that space so there’s this really great crossover with tech like earth observation and cultural burning happening, and we’re helping to build some of that capability.”

Winyama Digital Solutions was founded in 2018 and the company took out the Indigenous Excellence category at the Telstra Best of Business Awards this year.