OEC Expanding Understanding of Tribal Public Safety Communications and Governance

Author: Robin Beatty, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC)

National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Engagement

OEC coordinated with the NCAI to support a tribal emergency communications panel discussion at the Joint SAFECOM and National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) meeting held in Norman, Oklahoma on November 7, 2017. The panel was moderated by Brian Howard, NCAI’s appointed representative SAFECOM and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC). The panel featured Frank Harjo, Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) Manager, Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, and Danae Wilson, Manager, Department of Technology Services, Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho. This was the first ever joint SAFECOM-NCSWIC tribal-focused panel and it provided an opportunity for SAFECOM members to learn about key tribal communications activities and challenges.

Additionally, a representative from the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho was invited by OEC to participate in the newly-established Communications Section Task Force and in this capacity to represent the equities of the NCAI within SAFECOM.

Tribal Response to the SAFECOM National Survey (SNS)

The SNS is now closed and OEC has coordinated through a variety of tribal channels to promote participation from Tribal Nations. The SNS is a nation-wide data collection effort with the goal of identifying emergency communications priorities for all types of communities across the country.  The data collected will be analyzed to represent the capabilities necessary for establishing operable, interoperable, and continuity of communications at all levels of government. OEC received over 50 tribal responses to the SNS. All responses will contribute towards the planned refresh of the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) in 2019. 

Governance Profiles Helping Tribes Strengthen Emergency Communications

OEC is also continuing efforts to establish and build collaborative relationships with federally recognized tribes through the Tribal Emergency Communications Governance Profile effort. This effort is building OEC’s understanding of tribal emergency communications operations, resources, and interoperable emergency challenges, which helps OEC to identify opportunities to assist tribes with assessing and improving their unique operable and interoperable communications capabilities.

The profile development process provides tribes with the opportunity to learn about free emergency communications related resources and services from DHS. These services assist with emergency management and national security emergency preparedness communications issues, training, processes, planning, and implementation. OEC is also able to facilitate interested tribes in building relationships between federal and state agencies, components, and organizations to strengthen their respective tribal emergency management engagements and efforts

Once drafted, the governance profile is shared with the respective tribe to assist tribal leadership with communications planning, resource management, and the grant application process. This is an on-going effort available to all federally recognized tribes. To date, OEC has completed 15 tribal profiles and is engaging additional tribes to initiate the profile development process.

For information about OEC’s tribal engagement and support, contact Robin Beatty at Robin.Beatty@hq.dhs.gov, or OEC Tribal Affairs at oectribalaffairs@hq.dhs.gov.