2017 FirstNet News
FirstNet Board Advances First Responder Network Procurement Process
March 28, 2017
Board unanimously votes to move to contract; delegates authority to FirstNet CEO to make award
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) today took a critical step to position the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (“Network”) procurement for completion as soon as possible.
“This is a significant milestone for FirstNet and for the public safety community,” said FirstNet Chair Sue Swenson. “We are bringing the procurement to the finish line and soon will be forming an innovative public-private partnership to deploy the Network.”
During today’s special meeting, the FirstNet Board unanimously passed Resolution 84 authorizing the FirstNet CEO to take all actions necessary to ensure the timely award of the Network contract. Prior to the special meeting, the FirstNet Board, in accordance with FirstNet’s enabling statute, completed its review of the acquisition approach and the request for proposal(s) (RFP) process to identify a partner to build, operate, and maintain the Network.
“I want to thank the Board for this important decision today, which is a critical step in finalizing the Network procurement,” said CEO Mike Poth. “Upon award, FirstNet will immediately start work on delivering this Network to public safety and fulfilling our promise to them.”
Today’s action follows a number of steps that FirstNet has taken over the past several months to ready the organization for a public-private partnership to deploy the Network, including:
•In June, FirstNet moved to become a more operational and customer-focused organization by creating its Chief Customer Office (CCO) and the Network Program Office (NPO);
•In August, the Board approved the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget, which obligated $6.5B to support the award of the Network contract;
•At the December 2016 Board meeting, FirstNet announced its readiness for a partnership and unveiled its plan for the first three months post-award to guide progress with the future Network partner; and
•Recently, FirstNet worked with the U.S. Department of Justice to successfully resolve a protest action regarding the acquisition process for the Network.
With legal impediments out of the way, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) board voted during a special meeting on March 28 to grant the CEO the ability to award of the $6.5 billion nationwide public safety broadband network contract.
The vote comes on the heels of a lengthy litigation process in which Rivada Mercury, a partnership of several companies created specifically for the FirstNet project, filed a lawsuit alleging it had been unfairly dismissed from the procurement process.
On March 17, Federal Judge Elaine Kaplan, ruled in favor of the government, allowing the board to vote on the approval of the contract award. The end of the lawsuit and the board's unanimous decision on Resolution 84 (which allows for approval to complete acquisition of the nationwide public-safety broadband network [NPSBN]) officially opens the door for FirstNet CEO Mike Poth to finalize the award of the five-year, multi-billion-dollar contract to the yet-to-be-identified bidder.
NEW TIME AND DATE
FirstNet Board announces special meeting, March 28, 9 a.m. EDT
Date/Time: Tuesday, March 28, 9 a.m. ET.
Teleconference Members of the public may join the meeting in “listen-only” mode by dialing toll free1-877-960-9067 and using passcode 2095167#.
A look at FirstNet’s plans for the first six months
March 26, 2017
With the FirstNet board preparing to move forward with the award of its approximately $6.5 billion contract to build a national public safety LTE network, the organization has laid the groundwork to move quickly in its first weeks and months.
A special meeting of the FirstNet board will be held on Tuesday, at which the board is expected to vote on the final award of the contract. The award had been held up for a number of months by a lawsuit filed by Rivada Mercury, protesting that it had been ruled out of the competitive range for the award. AT&T is the only publicly known entity that is still in the running.
At the FirstNet board’s meeting in mid-March, some of the updates it received included the most recent information on the plans for FirstNet’s first 100 days of operation. Goals for the first six months have been laid out in FirstNet’s Request for Proposal.
Neil Cox, FirstNet board member and part of its technology committee, described the 100-day plan to the board as:
-Within the first 24 hours after making the award, FirstNet will immediately notify the state-level Single Points of Contact and FirstNet’s Public Safety Advisory Committee with initial information about the partner and the timing going forward. Cox said that FirstNet plans to schedule a webinar shortly after the award is made “to make sure everyone hears the most up-to-date information with all the information we can release, what we know and what we don’t.”
FirstNet board members will convene via teleconference beginning at 9:00 a.m. EST for a meeting that is expected to last about 30 minutes, according to the meeting notice. No agenda accompanied the meeting notice as of publication time, but the board last week indicated that it would call a special meeting for the purpose of completing the final stages of the procurement process for the nationwide contract.
After the expected board vote, the formal award to AT&T is expected to be executed quickly, according to a source familiar with the process. It is unclear whether the award could be completed on the same day as the board meeting.
State and public-safety representatives are monitoring the award date closely, because the award is the event that starts the deployment timetable for the network. According to the RFP, FirstNet is scheduled to provide deployment plans for all 56 states and territories six months after the award. After the state plans are distributed, each governor will have 90 days to accept the FirstNet plan or choose to pursue the “opt-out” alternative, which calls for the state to build out the radio access network (RAN) within its borders.
As Government Technology previously reported, the legal stalemate between the ousted bidder and the FirstNet authority significantly delayed the award for the 25-year contract by several months in December 2016. At the time, FirstNet officials said many of the moving parts necessary for project success were in place and ready.
“We have the rigor in place. We are an up-and-running organization just as Congress intended,” FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said at the organization’s quarterly meeting held Dec. 14. “We are here and it’s done, and we are ready.”
The larger case centered on a bidding dispute filed by Rivada Mercury, the collective made up of Fujitsu, Nokia, Harris, and Black and Veatch, against the FirstNet Responders Network Authority, which is overseeing the $6.5 billion contract for the national FirstNet public safety network.
In the Friday judgment, Judge Elaine Kaplan ruled in favor of the network authority, granting it the ability to move forward with the procurement process.
U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Elaine Kaplan issued rulings denying Rivada Mercury’s motion to have the proposal from its bidding consortium considered in the “competitive range” stage of the procurement process for the FirstNet contract. AT&T’s bidding team is the lone entity left in the “competitive range” stage of the procurement, according to documents filed by Rivada Mercury and AT&T. Given this, industry and procurement sources believe AT&T will be awarded the nationwide FirstNet contract, unless subsequent legal action prevents it from happening.
Kaplan also granted motions from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)—representing FirstNet—and AT&T, which intervened in the case on behalf of FirstNet. Details of the decisions were not made public, as the court has sealed most substantive documents filed in the litigation to protect proprietary and sensitive information.
“We are pleased with the Court’s decision,” FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said in a prepared statement. “This is a positive development for FirstNet and the public safety community. FirstNet intends to move expeditiously to finalize the contract for the nationwide public-safety broadband network.”
FirstNet had wanted to award the contract before the end of last year, but one of the bidders, Rivada, said it was wrongly removed from the list of potential contractors. Rivada contested its exclusion from the contract and filed a legal protest, which the federal claims court rejected today.
The 25-year contract is expected to bring additional business to infrastructure vendors and tower operators. And if it’s awarded to AT&T as widely expected, AT&T will get access to FirstNet’s 20 MHz of 700 MHz low-band spectrum and $6.5 billion for designing and operating the nationwide network for federal, state and local authorities, with the right to sell excess capacity on the system.
AT&T provided the following statement: “We are pleased by the court’s ruling as it allows FirstNet to select its partner and jump-start the process of delivering America’s first nationwide broadband network dedicated to public safety. We would be honored to be selected and help fulfill FirstNet’s important public safety mission.”
After meeting in a lengthy closed session during the second half of yesterday’s meeting, the FirstNet board did not mention a resolution on the agenda that would have provided for “delegation of approval to complete NPSBN acquisition.” If passed, the resolution would have allowed the FirstNet board to designate someone on behalf of the board—without requiring the full board to reconvene—to take certain actions, presumably to facilitate quicker completion.
The First Responder Network Authority expects a decision within days from a federal court on the fate of its multi-billion-dollar contract for a nationwide public safety broadband network.
FirstNet missed its anticipated November award date for the $6.5 billion contract because vendor Rivada Mercury filed a protest lawsuit that month saying it had been unfairly removed from the competition.
FCW's sister publication, Washington Technology reported on March 3 that AT&T told the Securities and Exchange Commission in December that it believed it was the sole remaining bidder in the competition.
Maximizing the potential of the NPSBN and NG911
March 13, 2017
Next-generation 911 (NG911) and the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) being implemented by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) are Internet Protocol (IP)-based, broadband communications systems that are expected to dramatically enhance first-responder communications in the U.S. They will do so by enabling high-bandwidth applications that are unthinkable today in a world dominated by narrowband communications technology.
On the agenda released today, the final action item calls for FirstNet board members to consider Resolution 84, which would provide for “delegation of approval to complete NPSBN acquisition.” If approved, the resolution would authorize a designated delegate to take the actions needed to complete the FirstNet procurement process and award the 25-year contract.
It is common for governmental entities to delegate authority—for instance, a city council empowering a city manager to sign a contract—so that certain items can be executed quickly, without having to wait on the full board to reconvene.
The term “Smart Cities” is a popular topic in today’s urban jurisdictions – but what is a Smart City? A Smart City has technological infrastructure which collects, aggregates and analyzes real-time data which it uses to improve the lives of its residents according to the National League of Cities, report “Trends in Smart City Development”. But beyond that, a Smart City partners with universities and the federal and private sectors in using technology to enhance the quality and performance of urban services. Innovation can improve city services – from finding energy efficiencies and reducing traffic to fighting crime and fostering economic growth.
Updated: Judge hears oral arguments in Rivada Mercury lawsuit protesting FirstNet procurement
March 3, 2017
Attorneys provided oral arguments today in Rivada Mercury’s lawsuit protesting the bidding team’s exclusion from the final stage of the FirstNet procurement process, bringing the case one step closer to a much-anticipated decision from U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Elaine Kaplan. Scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. EST today, oral arguments in the case were completed at about 1:45 p.m. EST, according to an official in court clerk’s office.
In a statement released this evening, Rivada Mercury indicated that its legal counsel believes a decision in the case could be announced within "the next couple of weeks."
"The Judge has studied the briefs from the parties and conducted oral argument today," according to the Rivada Mercury statement. "We expect the Judge will issue her opinion in the next couple of weeks, and we remain hopeful and optimistic that the Judge will reach a decision that allows Rivada Mercury to continue to compete for this important
Bid protest continues to stall FirstNet award
March 1, 2017
The First Responder Network Authority is preparing to announce the contract award for its nationwide broadband public safety network, and it is making headway towards standing up its core network.
At a March 1 AFCEA DC event, FirstNet President TJ Kennedy said that before the authority can officially award the $6.5 billion contract and move forward with its plans, it must first complete the ongoing protest process that forced FirstNet to miss its initial Nov. 1, 2016, contract award deadline.
Once the protest is settled and the award is announced, Kennedy said that FirstNet will address "two major" objectives in 2017, the first year significant spending will begin in earnest.
Judge schedules oral arguments in FirstNet case for March 3
February 23, 2017
Oral arguments in the lawsuit filed by the Rivada Mercury bidding team protesting evaluations in the FirstNet procurement process will be heard next Friday, March 3, a federal judge ruled today.
U.S. Court of Federal Appeals Judge Elaine Kaplan issued the order for oral arguments after conducting a status conference this morning with representatives of the parties in the case. Today’s proceedings were sealed to the public. Most meaningful arguments in the case have been sealed to protect proprietary and sensitive information.
In the brief to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Boston and BayRICS (a joint powers authority of entities in the San Francisco Bay region) do not attempt to address the merits of the case; indeed virtually all meaningful arguments have been sealed from public view. However, they “respectfully request that the Court decide this matter without any unnecessary delay, so that the important buildout of the FirstNet network can proceed,” according to the brief
Lives depend on first responders’ ability to communicate in disaster and emergency. That is why FirstNet was created – to develop a wireless, mobile network to modernize public safety communications and keep first responders connected when it counts the most.
The idea for FirstNet originated with and for the public safety community in light of the findings and recommendations of The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission). The public safety community came together to advocate for a dedicated, public safety network.
In this video, learn about how FirstNet will answer public safety’s needs by putting advanced communications technology, apps and devices into the hands of first responders -- helping them save lives and protect communities across our nation. Hear from public safety leaders, including Tualatin Valley (Oregon) Fire and Rescue Chief Mike Duyck, who anticipate that with FirstNet, “public safety can do its work unthrottled.” Click to View Video
FirstNet, the network authority that aims to provide a single interoperable platform for emergency and daily public safety communications, described lessons learned from some of the early network roll-outs in its recently released 2016 annual report.
In addition to describing its acquisition progress for the deployment of the nationwide public safety broadband network and the opening of the Innovation and Test Lab, the report discussed lessons learned from its five early builder projects. Each early builder was granted access to deploy an LTE network on FirstNet’s licensed Band 14 spectrum to explore different aspects of first responder use of the network. The projects help FirstNet evaluate technical standards and capabilities, test new equipment and refine plans for future rollouts.
Over the last fiscal year, FirstNet accomplished many major milestones, with the most significant being the gains made in the acquisition process for the deployment of the nationwide public safety broadband network.
In January 2016, we released the FirstNet Request for Proposal (RFP) and accepted proposals through May 31, 2016. To date, FirstNet remains in an active procurement and evaluation process, and we expect to award the contract in 2017.
These accomplishments were built on our work with stakeholders in the states, public safety community and industry. The data, input and feedback we received from stakeholders helped to shape an innovative, objectives-based RFP.
Click to View: FirstNet 2016 Annual Report
Five years later, public safety can see a light at the end of FirstNet tunnel
February 21, 2017
Tomorrow marks the five-year anniversary of President Barack Obama signing into law the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. At the time, the headline-grabbing aspects of the legislation were an extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut and myriad initiatives designed to provide assistance to the large unemployed population.
Today, the tax-cut and unemployment benefits from this law largely have been forgotten. However, a generally overlooked feature of the bill finally is on the verge of becoming reality: FirstNet’s nationwide public-safety broadband network.
Final Deadline Passes in Rivada Protest of FirstNet RFP
February 17, 2017
The final deadline listed on a scheduling order released by U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Elaine D. Kaplan was for responses by the government and intervenor AT&T to replies on motions filed by Rivada Mercury.
The content, as well as who filed each document, is sealed under a protection order intended to safeguard proprietary and other sensitive information included in the case.
Final written briefs submitted in FirstNet protest case, court to determine next step
February 16, 2017
Officials for the U.S. Department of Justice and AT&T today submitted the final scheduled written briefs in the Rivada Mercury lawsuit protesting its elimination from the FirstNet nationwide procurement in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which will decide whether further input is needed before making a decision in the case.
Judge Elaine Kaplan is expected to review all of the written briefs in the case before determining whether oral arguments or other additional input may be needed prior to rendering a decision in the case, according to multiple sources.
When it comes to public safety, Americans expect results from first responders. The first-of-its-kind First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) will carry high-speed data, location information, images, and streaming video to public-safety users, so they can have the best information to make critical decisions quickly. FirstNet will ensure interoperability among first responders and will take advantage of existing telecommunication assets, vendor competition and economies of scale to drive down costs to offer a dedicated public safety service.
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) will be showcased at International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE), which will take place March 27-31, 2017 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
FirstNet officials recently traveled to New Orleans to exhibit at the National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) conference. NAEMSP is a national organization created more than 30 years ago for EMS physicians responsible for medical care in an out-of-hospital setting.
The NAEMSP annual meeting provided an opportunity for physicians, fellows, associated professionals and students to meet and discuss ways to improve out-of-hospital emergency medical care. This was FirstNet’s first time exhibiting at the conference, which is attended by more than 800 people from around the world
Use of Simulation and Emerging Technologies in Firefighter Training
February 10, 2017
The use of simulations to enhance skills training is common in fields such as aviation, military, law enforcement, and medical services, where training in real environments can be dangerous and expensive. The use of simulation and emerging technologies has been less common in firefighter training, but interest is growing. The Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology and FirstNet explored some emerging technologies with the potential for improving simulation training at the recent Fire Leadership Challenge 2016, sponsored by the Colorado State Fire Chiefs Association.
Training firefighters in different situations that may arise on the fireground often involves a burn building at a training center, a controlled burn of a structure, or a prescribed wildland burn. Although these scenarios provide live-fire situations, they can be expensive in terms of personnel time and equipment and can also create the risk of unintended property damage or harm to the trainee.
All eyes on court as decision time approaches in FirstNet case
February 9, 2017
More than two months ago, it became public that the Rivada Mercury bidding team had filed a lawsuit challenging the procurement process associated with selecting a contractor to build and maintain the FirstNet’s proposed nationwide public-safety broadband network.
Early court documents in the case—and an SEC filing by AT&T—revealed that Rivada Mercury is contesting the fact that it was excluded from the “competitive range” stage of the FirstNet procurement, leaving the AT&T bidding team as the lone entity being considered for the 25-year contract. Rivada Mercury claimed it could have addressed the concerns cited, if it had been given the chance to explain its offer in greater detail—something it would have had the chance to do, if it was included in the “competitive range” stage.
Alabama today announced that its request for proposal (RFP) seeking bidders willing to build and maintain a statewide public-safety LTE radio access network (RAN) generated three submissions, making Alabama the second state in the country to receive proposals that could become an alternative to the nationwide FirstNet buildout.
Although the announcement was released today, bidding for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) closed on Jan. 31. ALEA did not identify the vendor groups submitting bids in its short press release.
First Responders Need Reliability of FirstNet Network, Los Angeles Sheriff Says
February 6, 2017
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Chief Scott Edson talks about the need for an LTE broadband network that gives priority to first responders. When emergencies happen, he says, there are 88 cities and at least 40 police departments all using the same commercial broadband network. The result is a traffic jam of dropped cellular signals and slow data sharing.
“FirstNet brings us the pipeline we need for that kind of solution,” Edson says.
With more than 100,000 fans in the stands, commercial carrier networks often become so congested near the Ohio State football stadium that they “won’t even ping” when users try to get a signal to communicate during a game, according to Kelly Castle, program manager at FirstNet Ohio.
How often do you think about how your smart phone or tablet maintains its signal?
What about in mobile situations, such as being in a vehicle traveling through a mix of rural and urban areas? While most people notice when a call gets dropped or data doesn’t go through, it’s probably not something most think about until it affects them. For most users, a lost signal or connection is a temporary annoyance. However, for FirstNet’s future users – law enforcement officers, fire fighters, paramedics and other emergency personnel who are always on the go – having a reliable connection is critical.
This is one area in which FirstNet’s Innovation and Test Lab (FirstNet Lab) will help. The FirstNet Lab at our technical headquarters in Boulder, CO, is a state of the art facility where FirstNet and its future partner will test public safety functionality and features unique to FirstNet’s mission-critical broadband network. This includes key mission critical services, such as quality of service; priority; preemption; and other future services and applications.
Law enforcement officers, fire service members, and EMS personnel – who are on the front lines protecting their communities every day – will have the opportunity to access and use the FirstNet network once operational. The National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) is one of the key groups that represents law enforcement personnel.
Building Communications Infrastructure for First Responders
February 3, 2017
Think back to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing when police were searching for the suspects and paramedics were trying to communicate with hospitals to help the injured. The local Copley Square command center personnel stopped using cell phones due to congestion on commercial networks caused by thousands of residents who were simultaneously trying to reach their loved ones. Instead, public safety officials used land mobile radios to communicate with each other, but they acknowledged they could have benefitted from access to graphics, maps and other data that are available to the public every day.
The ability to communicate is critically important for first responders during manmade or natural disasters, when incident commanders need to quickly convey vital data to every first responder and learn what resources are available from neighboring jurisdictions. The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is working to deliver a broadband network with built-in interoperability to enhance public safety agencies’ ability to protect and serve.
With a new year in full swing, FirstNet is focusing its consultation program around one of our top priorities for 2017: the successful development and delivery of State Plans. Our goal is to deliver and discuss State Plans that reflect the public safety priorities of each State and Territory for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network.
To achieve this, we will build on our consultation efforts through governance body meetings, SPOC team interaction, executive meetings and additional public safety meetings. We are designing these engagements with targeted outcomes in mind, including:
•Validate who is important to the State Plan process in each state
•Describe the State Plan delivery and review process in each state, including access considerations and web portal content
•Affirm states’ priorities, such as business factors and public safety needs.
FirstNet will also work with our future awardee to refine value propositions and capabilities specific to each state or territory. Our consultation with the states will help ensure that each Governor receives an accurate, effective, proposal that reflects the state’s needs.
For Arvada’s Bob Fifer, the world of information technology and telecommunications comes easily. After a 23-year career in the industry, he understands more than most why it’s so crucial to have reliable broadband.
For many, when the internet goes down for a stint, it’s a minor inconvenience. But Arvada Councilmember At-Large, and Mayor Pro Tem Fifer wants to stress how critical the internet has become and what it can mean for Arvada’s future, especially in terms of public safety. And he finally has a place to do just that as a recent appointee to an advisory committee for the Federal Communications Commission.
As we look back on the past year, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is pleased by the many accomplishments we achieved in 2016. We’ve taken many important steps forward in our efforts to deploy a nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) and put life-saving technology into the hands of first responders. And we look forward to the work we’ve put in over the last 12 months paying dividends in 2017, as we move into implementation mode with the network.
As the chair of FirstNet’s Consultation and Outreach Committee, I’m proud of the ambitious agenda we set for the year, which included:
•expanding outreach to involve more local-level first responders
•collecting actionable information and feedback from federal, state, and tribal agencies
•preparing decision-makers for State Plan delivery in 2017
Top AT&T executives yesterday noted that the possibility of the carrier winning the nationwide FirstNet award is one of several “potentially very good things” that could happen this year. Another is tax reform that would lead to the telecom giant paying a lower corporate tax rate, allowing the company to invest the money necessary to accelerate the deployment of various initiatives, including the potential FirstNet buildout.
FirstNet Innovation and Test Lab Blog Series: Testing Coverage Reliability
January 26, 2017
How often do you think about how your smart phone or tablet maintains its signal?What about in mobile situations, such as being in a vehicle traveling through a mix of rural and urban areas? While most people notice when a call gets dropped or data doesn’t go through, it’s probably not something most think about until it affects them. For most users, a lost signal or connection is a temporary annoyance. However, for FirstNet’s future users – law enforcement officers, fire fighters, paramedics and other emergency personnel who are always on the go – having a reliable connection is critical.
Ross, 79, was approved by a voice vote of the committee, and multiple media outlets indicated that he is expected to be approved by a vote of the full Senate with little resistance. During the same meeting, the committee also approved Transportation Secretary nominee Elaine Chao, 63, by a voice vote.
Ross is expected to be very active in the negotiation of international trade deals, but last week he also fielded a question from Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), who noted that FirstNet has made significant progress but continues to face “a good number of challenges.” Thune asked Ross to commit to being “engaged” and to informing the committee if he observes “any waste, fraud or abuse” within FirstNet.
“I certainly support the concept of FirstNet,” Ross said during the hearing, which was webcast. “I gather there is some controversy in some states about it, and I gather there have been some technical issues—I’m obviously not yet conversant with them. But the idea of giving the first responders all of the tools that you can imagine that could be useful has to be the right direction to go. So I’m certainly supportive of that.
Smart City Study Finds Mission-Critical LTE Importance, LMR Sustainability
January 24, 2017
Nearly 40 percent of survey respondents anticipate widespread adoption and implementation of smart city initiatives across the United States in the next six to 10 years. About three-quarters of municipalities and smart service provider respondents indicated that public private partnerships may be the most effective financing model. Black & Veatch’s report is based on a survey of 741 participants across the municipal, utility and technology sectors.
The report said the nationwide public-safety broadband network being procured by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) could revolutionize public-safety communications altogether. Next-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) applications are helping increase efficiency for first responders and other agencies. The deployment of broadband LTE will eventually make it possible to transmit voice, data, pictures and video in real time. As these applications integrate with other “smart” efforts, public-safety professionals can more efficiently protect and deliver services to their communities. These communications modernizations should synchronize with other technological advancements that increase levels of service delivered to constituents.
The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) is advocating for increased cybersecurity partnerships with the Federal government, according to its 2017 advocacy agenda.
The Federal advocacy agenda, which was released Jan. 18, outlines the four issues that NASCIO will focus on this year:
1.State chief information officers’ (CIOs) seek strong intergovernmental partnership on cybersecurity.
2.Flexibility in Federal funding regulations that encourage legacy system modernization and cloud adoption.
3.Information sharing and safeguards, meeting citizen expectations.
4.Successful implementation of First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) plans in each state
This blog is the latest in a series on 10 ways FirstNet will help public safety save lives and secure communities. FirstNet is developing the first nationwide public safety broadband network to provide first responders the advanced technologies they need to save lives and keep their communities safe.
When thousands of people gather at major events such as concerts, festivals or sporting events, commercial wireless networks can get congested. That makes it hard for users – including public safety – to get a signal.
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) in the coming months will select a private vendor to develop and deploy a national network dedicated to first responders that uses the most advanced wireless technology available.
The CIO group also will advocate for the First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet — a congressionally-mandated effort to stand up a mobile broadband network for first responders and public safety.
“Interoperability remains a central issue and a challenge for organizations throughout the state and I believe anywhere in the country,” John Stevens, statewide interoperability coordinator at the New Hampshire Department of Safety, told Homeland Preparedness News.
Jeff Bratcher, FirstNet’s chief technology officer (CTO), said the lab in Boulder, Colo., will be used to test public-safety-specific devices, equipment, applications and capabilities not found in commercial broadband networks.
Volunteer first responders are a crucial part of the public safety community, making up 69% of the firefighters across the country in 2014. In addition to use by full-time public safety personnel in each state and territory, FirstNet will be available for the nation's volunteer firefighters, EMS, and law enforcement officers.
Connecting responders to reliable broadband communications will provide them access to valuable tools needed to perform their jobs safely and successfully: “FirstNet is going to give us, for the first time, a mission critical proprietary system that’s designed, implemented, built-out, and operated for public safety,” says Chief Vaughan in the video below. This is particularly important as one of the top five leading factors related to firefighter deaths is inadequate communications, reports NVFC in the 2016 Critical Health and Safety Issues in the Volunteer Fire Services. Firefighters need to have reliable communications.
If you know FirstNet, then you know we are focused on putting broadband technology into the hands of public safety personnel nationwide. What you may not know is that FirstNet also is leading the way on a host of public safety-focused technologies, not the least of which is in bringing to market the best possible software applications for public safety to use in emergencies and day to day scenarios.
“The excitement surrounding FirstNet not only is in its broadband capabilities, which will be a game-changer, but also in the competition for public safety apps that we expect it to spark,” FirstNet Chief Technology Officer Jeff Bratcher said. “If FirstNet can help foster that kind of technical innovation, we will open up a new world in which first responders are more prepared, safer, and in better position to serve the public, from the apps they will be able to access.”
During the FirstNet board meeting last month, officials made it clear that FirstNet is ready to begin taking the steps necessary to transition to deployment and operational tasks as soon as its procurement for a nationwide contractor is completed.
Of course, what is not clear is when the procurement will be done and a nationwide contract awarded, as the procurement process is the subject of a legal proceeding before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. In the case, the Rivada Mercury bidding team—led by Rivada Networks—claims that its proposal was wrongly excluded from the procurement’s “competitive range,” which apparently includes only AT&T’s bidding team.
NIST looks to accelerate FirstNet with $30 million grant program NIST looks to accelerate FirstNet with $30 million grant program
January 9, 2017
Although the nationwide build of a dedicated LTE network for first responders has faced numerous delays, federal officials are looking to give the First Responder Network Authority a shot in the arm by way of a new grant program offering up $30 million to speed the development of underlying technologies.
According to the grant announcement, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Public Safety Communications Research Division hopes to “accelerate research, development, production and testing activities,” related to six areas of public safety communications technology. Those include mission critical voice; location-based services; public safety analytics; communication demand modeling; research and prototyping platforms; and resilient systems.
A legislative committee studying broadband access in Georgia has issued its report to the legislature, recommending tax credits and reworking regulations that stymie growth. The Committee on High-Speed Broadband Communications Access for All Georgians held a series of meetings across the state in 2016 to determine broadband availability and need.
The committee studying broadband access in Georgia met to approve its report to the full legislature, recommending ways to boost rural broadband access in the state. The lawmakers on that committee held a final meeting at the state Capitol in late December to approve the report they have since sent to the full legislature that’s intended as a road map for possible legislative action in 2017.
“There are so many different pieces to this puzzle … it’s going to take so many different people working together,” state Rep. Susan Holmes, R-Monticello, told The Macon Telegraph after that last meeting.
The committee recommended lawmakers look to eliminate taxes on telecom equipment purchases to deploy in rural areas.
The panel also suggested some other steps to promote private investment, including providing tax credits for individuals or businesses that invest in rural broadband infrastructure, as well as offering tax incentives for providers deploying broadband to recruit and hire the local labor force.
The committee also wants to untangle a regulatory mess by developing a uniform, streamlined permitting process at the local level and requiring the Georgia Department of Transportation to open the right-of-way for conduits and fiber on rural roads.
More of the committee’s recommendations include:
Establish broadband funding programs at state agencies, including the Department of Community Affairs and the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.
Explore allowing the Department of Transportation and other state agencies to lease excess fiber to providers.
Explore how public-private partnerships can help fuel the growth of rural broadband. The committee also suggests crafting incentives to encourage large and small telecom companies to work together and eliminate duplicative efforts.
Have Georgia participate in the federal FirstNet program, which was created in response to the crippling of the nation’s wireless network after the terror attacks on 9/11, making it difficult for first responders to communicate with one another. Congress set aside $7 billion to establish, operate and maintain FirstNet so responders will have their own radio spectrum. The state would pay a user fee (the amount is undetermined) to participate.
Encourage rural education agencies eligible for federal E-rate funds designed to improve high-speed internet access in schools to apply for the money, to improve educational infrastructure.
CES 2017: Officials Talk FirstNet, Public Safety Technology
January 5, 2017
As electronics giants revealed their latest partnerships and products at CES 2017, a group of public safety professionals gathered Jan. 4 for an update on FirstNet, the national First Responder Network Authority signed into federal law nearly five years ago — and a panel discussion about what’s next for their industry.
FirstNet President T.J. Kennedy told the Consumer Electronics Show audience — a roughly half-full room including public safety professionals and at least one general contractor — that the network has taken in bids and should award a contract later this year.
Alabama changes RFP deadline for public-safety LTE network to Jan. 31
January 3, 2017
Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) officials last week decided that vendors wanting to build a statewide public-safety LTE radio access network (RAN) must submit proposals by Jan. 31, as opposed to the previous plan of waiting until after FirstNet announces the contractor for its nationwide public-safety broadband network.
ALEA had established a request-for-proposals (RFP) deadline that would be 15 days after FirstNet made its nationwide contractor announcement, but that strategy was reconsidered after legal documents noted that the contractor award would not be made until at least March 1. Those legal documents are part of Rivada Mercury’s litigation protesting its exclusion from the “competitive range” of the nationwide procurement, leaving the AT&T bidding team as the only entity remaining in the “competitive range,” according to multiple sources.