LTE  |  2019-12-09

FirstNet Authority Highlights Network Advancements, Outlines Strategic Priorities

Source: The Critical Communications Review | Gert Jan Wolf editor

At its year-end meeting last week, the First Responder Network Authority Board highlighted major areas of progress for FirstNet — the nationwide public safety broadband network — and outlined its priorities to ensure the continued evolution of the network

This year saw continued momentum for FirstNet with expanded network deployment and growth in new public safety subscribers. Today, there are more than one million connections being used by more than 10,000 public safety agencies on FirstNet.

“This was another year of significant progress for public safety and the roll out of their network. Because of the growing awareness and adoption of FirstNet, the marketplace is serving and innovating for public safety,” said FirstNet Authority Board Chair Edward Horowitz. “The FirstNet Authority will continue our vigorous oversight of the network and move forward on the Roadmap priorities to deliver the differentiated broadband experience for public safety.”

During the meeting, the Board approved updates to the Committee charters and bylaws and reviewed progress toward the strategic vision set at last December’s board meeting. The Board highlighted key milestones in the areas of innovation, engagement and investment, including:

  • Development of the FirstNet Authority Roadmap, which provides insight into public safety’s operational needs and technology trends for mobile broadband communications over the next five years. As contemplated, the FirstNet Authority is using the Roadmap to prioritize its programs, activities, and potential investments for network growth and enhancements;
  • Robust advocacy focused on gathering feedback and input on public safety’s critical communications needs that included more than 1,100 engagements with over 33,000 stakeholders in all 56 states and territories;
  • Advancement of the public safety technology ecosystem, with more than 100 devices approved for use on FirstNet and more than 100 apps in the FirstNet App Catalog;
  • Designation of the first set of initial investments for the network, with a focus on enhancing network coverage and readying the FirstNet core for generational upgrades;
  • Coordination with government agencies and the private sector to create new and unique opportunities for public safety innovation, including:
    • Accelerate R2 Network Challenge, an interagency collaboration with the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Division in which the FirstNet Authority provides subject matter expertise. With a $1 million grant associated with it, the R2 challenge is designed to bring innovators together to advance technology solutions for disaster response and resiliency.
    • Tech to Protect Challenge, a nationwide coding contest hosted by PSCR and supported by the FirstNet Authority that fosters the development of communications apps and software solutions for emergency responders.

Also, the Board presented Sheriff Neil A. Miller of Buffalo County, NE, with the 2019 Chief Harlin R. McEwen Public Safety Broadband Communications Award for his extraordinary leadership and significant contributions to the advancement of public safety broadband communications across Nebraska. Established in 2017, the FirstNet Authority awards the honor to a public safety representative who has contributed to the advancement of public safety broadband communications.