Attendees sit and listen to a speaker at the front of the room during a Roadmap engagement at the PSAC Tribal Working Group Semi-Annual Meeting

Tribal Leaders Voice Broadband Needs for FirstNet Authority Roadmap

Recently, the Public Safety Advisory Committee’s (PSAC) Tribal Working Group (TWG) met in Nashville, Tennessee for its semi-annual in-person meeting.  The two-day engagement was an opportunity for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) to update TWG delegates about FirstNet’s latest developments, hear from tribal leaders about their network needs, and highlight real-world FirstNet use cases in tribal communities.

The meeting included a presentation by Tim Zientek, Emergency Manager for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, about the tribe’s experience using a FirstNet dedicated deployable during its annual Firelake Fireflight Balloon festival in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  With over 40,000 visitors, the tribe relied on a FirstNet Satellite Cell on Light Truck (SatCOLT) and FirstNet Ready™ devices to cut through congested networks and communicate during the three-day event. Zientek remarked that the SatCOLT was deployed to Indian County and “did exactly what it said it was going to do.”

TWG delegate Robert DesRosier, who serves as the Director of Emergency Management for the Blackfeet Nation, updated the working group about the tribe’s rural communication challenges along a 60+ mile international border and Glacier National Park.  The lack of coverage and telecommunications infrastructure makes it difficult for the tribe to quickly respond to incidents or regularly maintain situational awareness.

As part of the Roadmap discussion, I explained how the TWG meeting was a critical opportunity to engage with local and regional tribal leaders to ensure that the evolution of the FirstNet network will reflect tribal broadband communications needs.  Also, as the FirstNet Authority continues to meet with public safety organizations across the country, the PSAC is important to identifying and gathering feedback and input on public safety’s communications needs.

PSAC Chair Todd Early also took the opportunity to discuss the PSAC’s current and future priorities, the TWG’s role in upcoming PSAC meetings, and the ongoing FirstNet Authority Roadmap engagements with public safety organizations.

The FirstNet Authority would like to thank the Bureau of Indian Affairs for hosting this meeting.  Through a series of upcoming nationwide events, we will continue to gather feedback on public safety’s critical communications needs to guide the development of the FirstNet Authority Roadmap. This includes topics like coverage and capacity, situational awareness, voice communications, secure information exchange, and user experience that will help public safety optimize the use of the FirstNet network to help them save lives and protect communities.

If you are interested in participating in a FirstNet Authority engagement, you can find your Public Safety Advisor here. They will be happy to work with you to schedule an engagement.

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