FirstNet From Three Perspectives

Through a webinar held on March 10, 2016, Sheriff Larry Amerson (Calhoun County, AL), Amanda Hilliard (Director of Outreach, FirstNet) and David Cook (Region 2 Outreach Lead, FirstNet) provided different perspectives on FirstNet, with details on what it is, why it came into being, the benefits, how to get involved, and more.

The events of September 11, 2001 rocked the country and changed the course of many public safety organizations’ operations. It also shone a spotlight on the need for increased assignment of radio spectrum and interoperability.

And as recently as last year (remember #PrisonBreakNY?), these issues were highlighted yet again:

  • Confusion due to a lack of capacity and a lack of interoperability
  • Lack of access to commercial networks and agencies’ own networks
  • Wide geographic area, remote terrain, many types of responders, multiple jurisdictions
  • Effort lasted 3 weeks and cost New York an estimated $25m

Enter FirstNet

On February 22, 2012, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act was signed into law and created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).

The law gives FirstNet the mission to build, operate and maintain the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. FirstNet will provide a single interoperable platform for emergency and daily public safety communications.[1]

While still in the RFP phase, it is not too early to lean more about and start getting involved in FirstNet. For many agencies, it will deliver monetary savings by allowing them to keep the cost of devices and services as low as possible, by being another service provider from whom agencies can purchase wireless broadband services.

The following converge to make FirstNet operational:

  • Spectrum
  • Funding
  • Governance

In addition to helping overcome some of the issues mentioned previously, FirstNet provides a plethora of benefits.

FirstNet also established the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), which is made up of representatives of all the users of day-to-day public safety operations, and whose goal is to enhance FirstNet to do its job.

How to Get Involved

  • Get to know and get in touch with your SPOC
  • Get familiar with and attend you governance body meeting
  • Join a consultation task team
  • Executive consolation meeting

To learn more about FirstNet, watch the entire webinar, or visit their website. And don’t miss their session at our annual conference this June!