By Julia Pulidindi
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) announced that it will be holding a summer-long series of regional consultations with states, tribes, territories and localities to solicit input to help in the design of a public safety-grade, next-generation wireless network.
FirstNet was congressionally mandated in 2012 to establish an interoperable nationwide wireless broadband network that will enable public safety officials to better communicate with one another during emergencies and to improve response time in communities. It is administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is run out of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The consultation series kicks off May 15-16, 2013 in the Washington, D.C area and will include six other regional sessions as well as individual meetings with each state during the consultation process. “Our goal is to deliver high-speed data services to millions of public safety users to help them save more lives, solve crimes faster and keep our communities safer,” said Bill D’Agostino, General Manager of FirstNet. “Consultations are an essential step in building working relationships between FirstNet and the thousands of people who are stakeholders in its success. These meetings will provide valuable opportunities to listen and work collaboratively to build the first public safety-grade LTE network.”
The first regional workshop will be a two-day program beginning with a discussion of the changing nature of public safety since 9/11 and the need for placing next-generation technologies into the hands of first responders. It will continue with an update on FirstNet progress, an interactive session on network development and multiple facilitated discussions between participants and FirstNet. Also scheduled are breakout sessions for stakeholders, discussions between registrants and FirstNet, breakouts on specific challenges of implementing the public-safety broadband network and group peer-to-peer exchanges.
“Local matters,” said Jeffrey Johnson, retired fire chief and FirstNet board member who manages the stakeholder outreach process. “We need to hear from people on the ground about their coverage and capacity needs, as well as the wireless assets and infrastructure they could bring to the table. Their input will be an invaluable part of our early analysis into the design of a network.”
“Developing FirstNet will take an extraordinary level of coordination and collaboration with every jurisdiction,” said Johnson. “We look forward to an open, productive dialogue at the consultations, inspired by a shared commitment to our first responder community and the safety of everyone in our nation.”
The same law that established FirstNet also created the State and Local Government Implementation Program (SLIGP) administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). SLIGP provides grants, awarded to the states, to assist in the planning of this public safety communications network and can be used to cover the travel costs for state, tribal, territorial and local government participation in the consultations. Participation in these consultations is on an invite-only basis, so NLC strongly encourages local elected officials to contact their governors and/or state chief information/technology officer for ways they can engage with their states in the development of this network.
Details: For more information on FirstNet or how to contact your state representative on this issue, contact Julia Pulidindi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schedule of Upcoming Regional Workshops by Geographical Area
May 15-16: Washington, D.C. Delaware, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, West Virginia
May 21-22: Denver, Colo. Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming
May 29-30: San Francisco, Calif. Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, North Mariana Islands, Oregon, Washington
June 12-13: St. Louis, Mo. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin
June 19-20: Boston, Mass. Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont
June 26-17: Memphis, Tenn. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas