Guest blog post by TJ Kennedy, FirstNet Acting General Manager
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent entity within the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, was established by Congress to develop a nationwide broadband network for the millions of first responders whose mission requires them to be resilient every time they are called to duty. Whether they are responding to day-to-day emergencies – such as traffic accidents – or large-scale disasters like wildfires and hurricanes, the nation’s firefighters, law enforcement personnel, and emergency medical services are critical to ensuring our safety and security during all types of hazards.
A great deal of progress has been made to enhance emergency communications in light of the interoperability and operability challenges that hampered the rescue and response operations to the September 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina. But we owe it to our nation’s first responders to ensure they have reliable and interoperable communications all of the time.
To deploy a nationwide public safety broadband network, FirstNet is working closely with first responders in all 56 states and territories to ensure their communications needs are built into the nationwide network from day one, so they can seamlessly share information and communicate under all conditions. And like first responders themselves, the network must be resilient: it must be able to withstand the elements and recover rapidly from disruptions, including deliberate attacks, accidents, or naturally occurring weather situations.
To that end, FirstNet is designing the network to be an interoperable, secure, and resilient network that will improve the effectiveness of emergency response in rural and urban communities throughout the nation, including remote locations such as island states and territories. FirstNet will also ensure the network can evolve and incorporate advances in technology so first responders can take advantage of cutting edge broadband communication services, devices, and applications.
America’s first responders deserve the very best tools to do their jobs and save lives. The FirstNet network will do just that – delivering a nationwide broadband network that provides modern technology, devices, and priority access during emergencies.
FirstNet was established by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. It is governed by a 15 member Board consisting of representatives from public safety; local, state and federal government; and the wireless communications industry. To learn more, please visit www.firstnet.gov.