The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Tribal Emergency Communications Program supports Native American and Alaska Native tribes through consultative engagement, outreach, advocacy, technical assistance, and inter- and intra-agency coordination to ensure strengthened public safety operable and interoperable communications. Each tribe has unique cultures, capabilities, needs, and challenges. CISA works individually with tribal communities to establish collaborative relationships to foster a cultural and technical understanding of each community and its emergency communications framework. CISA assesses and documents how their customs, public safety communications capabilities, challenges, infrastructure, and current governance structures impact decision-making, management, and resource allocation. This process has provided tribes access to CISA’s tailored solutions and resources and opened the door to relationships with other federal agencies and state, regional, and local public safety entities.
CISA has undertaken a key initiative to provide governance support by assessing and documenting current tribal emergency communications operations, resources, and operable/interoperable challenges, as well as identifying opportunities to improve tribal communications capabilities. CISA improves communications through consultation, access to information and resources, technical assistance, and strengthened relationships. CISA documents each participating tribe’s or Alaska Native Community’s information in a profile to help support the unique emergency communications needs of tribes and uses this information to tailor support directly to the tribal community. CISA also uses this information to develop resources and tools to support public safety communications at all levels of government and to advocate on behalf of tribal communities. CISA’s communications governance support may benefit a tribe by:
- Relationship Building: Assisting with and establishing and developing collaborative relationships across all levels of government
- Accessibility to Services and Resources: Identifying opportunities to utilize CISA services, resources, and tools to enhance emergency communications capabilities through technical assistance, priority telecommunications services, and grant guidance
- Communications Support: Communicating their current emergency management capabilities and challenges to tribal leadership, as well as to public safety partners at all levels of government
- Strategic Planning Support: Assisting with planning and implementing holistic communications operability and interoperability to expand and strengthen public safety services for their tribal community and neighboring jurisdictions
CISA coordinates outreach on multiple platforms in the effort to inform tribal leaders and officials about the services that CISA’s Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program (ICTAP) provides at no cost to tribes. CISA offers technical assistance to tribes through the development and delivery of training and exercises, guidance and planning documents, templates, and tools that support increased operable and interoperable communications capabilities during planned and unplanned incidents.
CISA’s Priority Telecommunications Services offer tribal officials from national security and emergency preparedness (NS/EP) disciplines priority communications capabilities during congested scenarios and emergency circumstances. CISA manages the following programs and services in the effort to support priority telecommunications for public safety personnel:
- Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS)
- Wireless Priority Services (WPS)
- Telecommunications Service Priority (TSP) Program
CISA provides access to multiple resources that often are developed jointly with public safety community and policy makers input at all levels of government, including tribal. SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) have collaboratively developed many guidance documents and tools to improve multi-jurisdictional and intergovernmental communications interoperability of existing communications systems and future networks through technologies and processes. The SAFECOM and NCSWIC resource library is organized according to the elements of the Interoperability Continuum (governance, standard operating procedures, technology, training and exercises, and usage), as well as sections on planning, funding, interoperability, and Field Operations Guides. Resources of particular interest to tribes include:
- National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP)
- Governance Resources
- SAFECOM Funding and Grant Guidance
- CISA Tribal Emergency Communications Governance Support Tri-Fold
CISA facilitates collaboration through multiple partnerships and working groups comprised of participants from all levels of government. These partnerships and groups enable information and resource sharing and provide a forum to strengthen national security and emergency preparedness (NS/EP) infrastructure, develop tools and resources, and provide a voice in the public safety communications community.
Tribal NS/EP personnel can participate in the following:
- Southwest Border Communications Group (SWBCWG)
- Canada-United States Communications Interoperability Working Group (CANUS-CIWG)
- Federal Partnership for Interoperable Communications
To learn more about how your tribe can benefit from CISA’s emergency communications tribal engagement activities and technical assistance available to tribes, contact CISA Tribal Affairs at email@example.com