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Acting Secretary Blank Names Members of First National Public Safety Broadband Board in Minnesota

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Image of logo, First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet)

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank was in Minneapolis, MN, today to address attendees at the Opening General Session of the 78th Annual Conference and Expo hosted by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International.

In addition to thanking America’s first responders and public safety officials for keeping our country safe and secure, Acting Secretary Blank announced that she appointed twelve of the nation’s leading experts on public safety and wireless broadband communications to serve on the Board of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).

The Board members are:

  • Tim Bryan, CEO, National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative
  • Charles “Chuck” Dowd, Deputy Chief, New York City Police Department 
  • F. Craig Farrill, Wireless telecommunications executive 
  • Paul Fitzgerald, Sheriff, Story County, Iowa
  • Samuel “Sam” Ginn, Telecommunications executive  
  • Jeffrey Johnson, Fire Chief (retired); former Chair, State Interoperability Council, State of Oregon; CEO, Western Fire Chiefs Association
  • William Keever, Telecommunications executive (retired)
  • Kevin McGinnis, Chief/CEO, North East Mobile Health Services 
  • Ed Reynolds, Telecommunications executive (retired)
  • Susan Swenson, Telecommunications/technology executive 
  • Teri Takai, Government information technology expert; former CIO, states of Michigan and California 
  • Wellington Webb, Founder, Webb Group International; former Mayor, Denver, Colorado

The FirstNet Board of Directors represents the interests of a wide range of stakeholders, and each member of this diverse group brings considerable public safety, network, technology, and/or finance expertise.

The FirstNet Board is congressionally mandated to establish a nationwide wireless broadband network that enables police, firefighters, emergency services personnel, and other public safety officials to better communicate with one another during emergencies and use new technology to improve response time, keep communities safe, and save lives.
The new broadband network, which is to be based on a single, nationwide network architecture, would enable first responders and public safety officials to communicate with one another within and across jurisdictions. The secure and interoperable network will also support cutting-edge applications – for example, enabling firefighters to download blueprints of burning buildings in order to plan their entry route, allowing emergency medical technicians to remotely access a victim’s medical records from an ambulance, or helping police to identify criminal suspects through facial recognition or iris scanning technologies.

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which President Obama signed into law in February 2012, created FirstNet to serve as an independent authority within Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Congress directed that FirstNet be run by a 15-person Board of Directors, with the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget named as permanent members of the Board. Acting Secretary Blank was charged with selecting the remaining 12 members.

Congress also allocated $7 billion of spectrum auction proceeds and valuable spectrum bandwidth towards deployment of the nationwide network. In addition, they provided $135 million for a new State and Local Implementation Grant Program administered by NTIA to support State, regional, tribal, and local jurisdictions’ planning work with FirstNet to ensure the network meets their wireless public safety communications needs. FirstNet will also seek to leverage existing commercial and government infrastructure for the new network.

To read more about the selected members of the FirstNet Board, click here.

To read more about what FirstNet is, click here, or visit NTIA’s public safety website.

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