The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians (EBCI) is
the only Indian tribe in North Carolina federally recognized
by the United States government. The tribe
is situated in western North Carolina, with 15,000
enrolled members across 56,000 mountainous acres.
|Principal Chief Michael Hicks of the
Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians
takes a break from a videoconference
with his chief of police.
Under the leadership of Principal Chief Michell
Hicks, EBCI runs its own government, including a
legislative branch and supreme court, as well as 400
unique programs spanning educational and recreational
services, housing, finance, healthcare, public
safety and sanitation.
Travel to division headquarters buildings even
half a mile apart can take considerable time. With
only seven deputies under the chief to oversee all
400 programs, EBCI needed a technological solution
for better communication among divisions.
We turned to HD video communications rather
than audio or web conferencing as the best solution
for our needs. Our evaluation process included
meetings with several vendors, and we finally settled
on LifeSize Room 220 for the chief’s conference
room and LifeSize ClearSea for other tribal leaders.
In selecting a provider, we had to find a solution
that could easily connect inside and outside of our
network. Confidentiality and security are extremely
important to us—to the point that we’ve nicknamed
our network “Fort Knox.”
LifeSize was the only vendor that could even do
a demo without us having to open our firewalls.
The other vendors weren’t able to do so even after
opening a couple of ports.
Scalability also was important in the decision-making process. We were impressed that LifeSize
allowed us to start small with our purchase and buy
more capability as needed.
We also knew that a mobile solution was important
in having tribal leaders communicate effectively.
I liked the fact that LifeSize ClearSea supports so
many different mobile devices. When someone calls,
all of your enabled devices ring at the same time.
Whether the chief or one of his deputies is on a
phone, tablet or laptop, we never miss a critical call.
Every building in the tribe has its own WiFi network.
By adding LifeSize ClearSea to the mix, we can
be sure that connectivity is never a problem. The chief
and his colleagues can connect at a moment’s notice.
The tribe uses LifeSize Room 220 and LifeSize
ClearSea video communications routinely—the
attorney general uses her LifeSize ClearSea system
almost every day. For example, EBCI was involved in
a legal matter that required considerable communication
with the state government. The tribe saved
nearly $15,000 on that one case alone by using
video conferencing instead of having to travel to
and from Raleigh, N.C., and Washington.
In another example, a rockslide blocked the city’s
main thoroughfare, also blocking the casino. The
casino is the community’s lifeline, accounting for
nearly 85 percent of the tribe’s income, which funds
medical care, public safety and sanitation programs.
The rockslide made it nearly impossible for the community
For this reason, the chief and his leadership team
needed federal aid from FEMA. They were able to
speak to the national agency over HD video conferencing,
and we received the support our community
so desperately needed.
LifeSize is, and will continue to be, vital to the successful
operation of our community. In the future,
we’ll hope to provide a LifeSize ClearSea account to
as many tribal employees as possible, to make collaboration
even easier and more effective.
Jeremy Brown is audio and video administrator for
the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. He can be
reached at email@example.com.