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Blog Category: FirstNet

Working to Ensure Public Safety Has Cutting-Edge, Reliable Communications

Working to Ensure Public Safety Has Cutting-Edge, Reliable Communications

Guest blog post by Stephen Fletcher, Associate Administrator, Office of Public Safety Communications, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)

First responders know the deadly consequences of not having a communications network that is reliable and interoperable, a problem highlighted during the September 2001 terrorist attacks and Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.  

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is working to ensure our nation’s first responders have access to the most advanced communications when responding to an emergency or natural disaster.

NTIA is working closely with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent authority within the agency, as it works towards creating a nationwide public safety broadband network. In support of that effort, NTIA also is working to ensure states are prepared to take full advantage of this network once it is deployed.

NTIA awarded $116 million in grants to 54 states and territories to help plan for the broadband network that FirstNet will deploy. The State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP) is helping states prepare for the development and implementation of a more resilient broadband network, which will enable first responders to communicate efficiently and, consequently, save lives.

With the help of SLIGP funding, states and territories have begun to initiate collaborative relationships with public safety stakeholders through enhanced statewide governance, as well as by conducting education and outreach regarding the public safety broadband network, consulting with FirstNet, and identifying potential users. For example, FloridaNet, the team facilitating Florida’s broadband coverage needs, used SLIGP funding to host a listening tour – a series of eight, three-hour sessions across the state – and a webinar earlier this year to provide an overview of FirstNet and the role played by FloridaNet for law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services, emergency management, hospitals, Tribal Nations, and other stakeholders.

Going forward, NTIA will support its SLIGP grantees by engaging in outreach and technical assistance activities, such as holding webinars and conference calls, developing programmatic best practice documents, and conducting site visits. Through this work, and the work of many others, the United States is on its way to developing a public safety broadband network that stands tough in the face of crisis.

FirstNet: Deploying a Resilient Broadband Network for the Nation’s First Responders

FirstNet:  Deploying a Resilient Broadband Network for the Nation’s First Responders

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.

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

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).