Last month IT leaders from Native American tribes across the country attended the 20th annual TribalNet conference to shed light on the challenges tribal communities face serving their members and how IT can help. “Tribes, whether large or small, are working out how to best serve their members in our interconnected world,” shared Mike Day CEO and founder of TribalNet. “The challenges they face in helping tribal members are similar to those face by other communities in the United States but complicated by the challenges of being in rural areas and being underserved by basic tech, like high speed Internet access.”
According to Day, the key topics of conversation at TribalNet 2019 were focused on the rapidly evolving areas of healthcare, clean energy, and land use. “Tribes are focused on improving the quality of healthcare available to members through the use of Electronic Healthcare Records (EHRs) and by implementing telemedicine programs to support not just general care, but also specialty care for issues such as addiction treatment,” Day shared. “They’re also investing in using technology, like drones, to aid in land management and resource exploration to support revenue generation and tribal self-sufficiency.”
However with the increasing use of technology to support key tribal goals and deliver services to members, come some inevitable complications. “Tribes are very progressive when it comes to using IT to advance their members’ interests,” shared James Zembriski who is responsible for relationships with tribes for Blackberry Cylance and who attended TribalNet 2019.
Zembriski noted that the challenges that most organizations face – retaining talent, accessing funding, and driving innovation – are compounded for tribes by the tyranny of distance first and foremost. But this is where partnership with outside organizations can really assist tribes with meeting their goals. “Trusted partners can really help tribes manage data security challenges, for example. By working with a trusted partner, the tribe’s core team can focus on their strengths while knowing that their data security challenges are being taken care of by a team whose soul focus is on that one area.”
As tribal IT needs continue to evolve in the coming years to continue to meet the needs of members events like TribalNet will provide an even more important venue to connect, network, and collaborate. “We’re all in this together,” concluded Mike Day, “After 20 years of bringing people together to share best practices and learn from each other the two constants are that technology is changing the way we do everything and that our IT challenges are not unique. The most efficient way to embrace the change, move forward, and deliver services to members is together.”