Improving connectivity is the focus of new modernization efforts taking shape around the country. More states, counties and municipalities are investing in projects aimed at connecting cities, with estimates showing that global spending on “smart community” initiatives may reach $158 billion in 2022. Among the many benefits are increased efficiencies in delivering citizen services.
Connectivity initiatives have tremendous potential for public safety too. Investing in public safety services has been shown to pay off in economic growth, crime reduction and community integration. There is now a broadband network that provides the infrastructure and connectivity to support the next generation of public safety: FirstNet.
Having served in law enforcement for more than 35 years, I know firsthand the need for a reliable, always-on connection. An investment in FirstNet will help a public safety agency make timely — and in some cases lifesaving — decisions. More informed and better connected first responders are more prepared to serve their communities, save lives and keep themselves safe.
VIDEO: See how the police department in Opelika, Ala., is using tech to back up video from body cameras and dash cams wirelessly and make it available upon demand.
FirstNet Provides a Fast Lane for Public Safety
FirstNet is the only communications platform that has been designed for public safety agencies and their unique requirements. Developed by the First Responder Network Authority, where I have served on the board for the past five years, and AT&T, our network contractor, the FirstNet network has been in operation for more than a year now, and it is already proving to be a game-changer for public safety. From large events to local incidents and natural disasters, FirstNet helps first responders and communities prepare for and respond to emergency situations.
Today, FirstNet services are available in every U.S. state, with more than 50,000 square miles of broadband coverage recently added to the network nationwide. There are more than 7,250 public safety agencies using more than 600,000 connections on FirstNet today, and the network is headed for continued growth and expansion.
Speaking as someone who was in public safety long before cellphones came to market, this is a welcome and much-needed development."
Vice Chair, FirstNet Authority Board
The pace of deployment and adoption is creating a new marketplace for public safety. Having a dedicated fast lane for communications is leading to unprecedented innovation for public safety agencies. As of this writing, more than 70 devices, such as smartphones and tablets, have been approved for public safety to use on FirstNet, and there is a growing catalog of applications designed to address responders’ needs. Speaking as someone who was in public safety long before cellphones came to market, this is a welcome and much-needed development: We now have our own technology ecosystem that is able to support our mission needs.
Collaboration Between First Responders and Communities Is Key
FirstNet is coming online at a time when states and municipalities are modernizing their services and better connecting their communities. This presents opportunities for state and city planners to take advantage of the network for their smart community projects. By factoring first responder needs into smart planning initiatives, communities large and small can benefit from the efficiencies realized by faster response times and improved public safety services.
Key to this all coming together is collaboration between public safety agencies at the federal, state and local levels, as well as public-private partnerships.
At the FirstNet Authority, our top priority is to ensure the continued growth and development of the network. To do so, we will continue to engage with the states and the public safety community to advance FirstNet and deliver a differentiated broadband communications experience that transforms public safety operations. Meanwhile, public safety agencies can reap unparalleled benefits by subscribing to FirstNet as it becomes available in their areas.
To learn how to engage with the FirstNet Authority’s public safety programs, visit firstnet.gov. For more information on FirstNet products and services, visit firstnet.com.
First Responder Network Authority