First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Chairman Sam Ginn announced that he has named FirstNet Board Member Kevin McGinnis to head the organization’s stakeholder outreach with tribes. McGinnis has begun meeting with tribal leaders.
McGinnis is leading FirstNet outreach and education efforts with the sovereign tribes that have a formal government-to-government relationship with the U.S. government. He is focusing on gathering tribal requirements, priorities and concerns for design of a nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. The network is intended to improve communication among police, firefighters and emergency medical services personnel, helping to save lives and solve crimes.
McGinnis currently heads North East Mobile Health Services, the largest paramedic service in Maine. He is a nationally recognized advocate for broadband communications within the emergency medical services (EMS) community. He serves as the communications technology representative for five national EMS organizations and federal agencies. A member of the Public Safety Alliance, McGinnis also is Chair of the SAFECOM Executive Program, the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security advisory committee on communications interoperability in public safety.
“We are eager to listen to native communities about the wireless coverage and capacity they require for better public safety communications,” said McGinnis. “Tribal participation in this process is essential to our research and the eventual design of a network that delivers crucial services to diverse American Indian and Alaska Native populations.”
“Tribes hold more than 50 million acres of land, much of it in rural and remote areas and some considered sacred,” said Jeffrey Johnson, retired fire chief and FirstNet board member who has managed outreach to all FirstNet stakeholder groups. “I am pleased to have Kevin McGinnis in this role. As an EMS professional, he knows from experience that FirstNet will offer tribal communities better protection when emergencies arise.”
The 2012 federal law that created FirstNet mandated that the programmatic requirements of tribes be included in consultations with the states in preparation for FirstNet deployment. FirstNet is working with tribal leaders to assist in identifying public safety priorities, users and infrastructure in Indian Country. FirstNet also will meet with each state individually during the consultation process and has encouraged state governors to include tribal nations in these consultations.
The FirstNet network will enable tribal public safety officials to communicate and coordinate across jurisdictions on a single device, operating on a single spectrum license. While this network infrastructure is being deployed, it will be important that tribes are aware of the federal/state deployment measures to ensure that sacred places and other areas of cultural significance are not affected.