® FirstNet is a registered trademark of the First Responder Network Authority
FirstNet is the next wave of technology in Public Safety Communications with novel technologies and processes designed to improve efficiency and capability for first responders, dispatch centers, and their associated affiliates. This page provides resources and information to help get you on board and develop your strategy for communications within the dedicated public safety broadband network.
What is FirstNet?
FirstNet is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce with a mission to develop, build and operate a nationwide, broadband network that better equips first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities.
In 2012 the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) was created from a new law as an independent authority within NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) to provide emergency responders with the first nationwide, high-speed, broadband network dedicated to public safety. The law stipulated that the FirstNet communications network was to be based on commercial standards for LTE (Long Term Evolution) service. LTE is the evolution of a proven technology, which is now in its fourth generation. Band 14 is designated for public safety use by Congress.
As of January 2019, the FirstNet Band 14 Spectrum Deployed in More Than 500 Rural and Urban Markets Across the Country. More than 5,250 public safety agencies are using 425,000+ connections today.
These videos can be seen on the FirstNet.gov website
FirstNet's Network - Better Communication for Public Safety
Los Angeles County Sheriff Discusses FirstNet Benefits
Public Safety Leaders Discuss FirstNet Benefits
Public Safety Broadband Communication Devices
Congress designated Band 14 for public safety use. This provides first responders with dedicated access to the highly desirable 700MHz wireless spectrum that provides excellent propagation in urban and rural areas and in-building penetration. It allows people with mobile devices to communicate from almost anywhere, which is a vast improvement over limited LMR, blocked buildings, internet connectivity issues, and out-of-range cell phone service. The dedicated public safety network also allows first responders to supersede non-emergency communications during catastrophic events.
New devices as well as new functions for devices are being employed to consolidate communications into LTE. For example, Push-to-Talk (PTT) phone-radios have been developed that function both as a phone and a land mobile radio, allowing interoperability with LMR and LTE. Devices are now available that adhere to newly-developed industry standards for mission critical Push-to-Talk (MCPTT). For more information on this technology, visit the Motorola website.
Fire – Thermal imaging devices can communicate the location of a fire and the people inside, wearable biometric devices on fire fighters can indicate distress in real-time, and multimedia data input from several sources (video, text, phone) can provide quick, real-time data to save lives.
Law Enforcement – Every incident can generate reliable critical information from radio, phone, police video (dash and body cameras, street and traffic cameras).
EMS - Operations for emergency medical service will be enhanced by use of interoperable phones, biometric devices that monitor critical medical conditions, mobile routers in ambulances, real‐time audio/video feeds with hospitals and physicians, and ultrasound and CT in the ambulance.
Click for the NIST List of Certified Devices
New Data Types and Processes
Preparing to transition into FirstNet-connected technologies involves multiple processes, and it is important to assess your organization to implement the appropriate plan.
PSAPs will be operating with both NG 9-1-1 and nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) systems, allowing them to gain situational awareness simultaneously from several sources. They may even receive data from local cloud-based systems that monitor traffic lights, home and business alarms, geofenced alerts, fire alarms, gun shot alerts, social media, and more. Grants from the State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP) are available in your state to help fund the NPSBN enhancements. Click here to learn more about this program.
Capturing data from multiple sources and devices will be one of the most important capabilities for functioning with FirstNet. Data includes phone calls, texts, text to 9-1-1, radio, SMS, video, images, IM, email, and social media. PSAPs must be prepared to accept and process this messaging and develop protocols to act quickly when necessary.
Installing software that can filter and present relevant data is a necessity for processing the stream of diverse data and metadata transmitted through the network. Using AI and machine learning technologies will allow combining all information related to particular incidents, while filtering out noise.
Training dispatchers will also also prepare them to handle the stream of new data and devices. Dispatchers will need to learn how to respond to text messages, videos, social media, and other forms of digital communication not currently being utilized.
The FirstNet Application Catalog
FirstNet offers mobile apps for the purpose of multi-channel communications within its network that are available for download from the FirstNet App Catalog. The Catalog contains a growing suite of mobile apps and software solutions to enable and enhance communications in public safety. End users (first responders and their affiliates) typically use the apps on their mobile devices such as cell phones, radios, and tablets, while administrators log into a console to manage features and configure subscribed services. Dispatch centers must adapt to protocols and software that allow intake and processing of these diverse messaging types.
To learn more about the FirstNet applications, visit the FirstNet App Catalog information page.
FirstNet provides information and services on two websites: FirstNet.gov and FirstNet.com The former provides information and resources, and the latter provides commerce associated with FirstNet and AT&T, including FirstNet rates and plans, and the FirstNet Application Catalog.
For the full list of FirstNet.gov informational resources, click here.
If you would like access the FirstNet App Catalog, you must be a customer of FirstNet. You can visit the FirstNet.com website (https://www.firstnet.com/signup) or call them at 800.574.7000 to begin the process.
First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet)
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Mail Stop 243
Reston, Virginia 20192
Boulder, CO Technical Headquarters:
3122 Sterling Circle Boulder, CO 80301
HigherGround is not affiliated with FirstNet.
FirstNet Core Fact sheet
FirstNet Challenges – HG Blog
1st Steps of Implementation – HG Blog
FirstNetApps and AI – HG Blog
What is the optimal call recording and reporting solution for PSAPs with FirstNet?
HigherGround Capture911 is fully FirstNet ready, with flexible integrations to fit your organization, easy retrieval, reporting and QA capabilities. To learn about Capture911, click here.