Transitioning to FirstNet: Creating Your Strategy
Updated: May 22, 2019
By Tom Goodwin
As 2019 gets under way, FirstNet is rolling out across the U.S along with testing of new devices and network. Although most of us feel comfortable with our existing PSAP methodologies, new technologies that provide faster and improved communications integrations are already starting to replace legacy systems. Although these changes may seem daunting and costly, they are necessary to serve public safety effectively, especially considering recent natural and man-made disasters. As the hub of public safety communications, PSAPs have a responsibility to develop and advance with the most effective technologies.
What to Expect
Preparing to transition into FirstNet-connected technologies involves multiple processes, and it is instructive to examine them and their effect on your organization. PSAPs will be operating with both NG911 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.Changes to consider in your organization include:
1. Data capture from multiple sources – communications with first responders as well as emergency messaging from individuals is generated from many media types, including phone calls, 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.
2. Multi-channel devices – emergency messaging also originates from devices other than phones and radios, including mobile devices, mobile phones, laptops, tablets, mobile routers and modems, new hybrid devices such as Push to Talk LTE phones, biometric devices, and more.
3. Dispatcher training – your dispatchers will need to know how to handle these various messages. Some questions to consider are:
Social Media response – this is increasingly becoming a useful way to alert 911 dispatch centers when phone calls are not possible. Research is currently underway to develop apps that filter and discover requests for help on platforms such as Twitter.
Some video may be shocking to watch. Do you want your staff to see traumatic video? Consider if it might it be better to redact some parts.
Text to 911 – This is an important medium for people who are deaf or in catastrophic emergencies when phone lines are swamped. Dispatchers need to learn how to respond to text messages.
4. New applications for new devices – FirstNet has launched an App Developer program for apps built exclusively for the public safety community. The FirstNet App Catalog will provide completed apps for download and can be accessed here.
If you would like to 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.
What is FirstNet?
In 2012 the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) was created from a new law as an independent authority within NTIA 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.
For questions about capabilities and integration of call recording and other data capture for your PSAP, email us at email@example.com.
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About the Author - Tom Goodwin is the Vice President of Marketing at HigherGround. His background in telecommunications and data networking has been augmented with work in data analytics and automated reporting prior to joining HigherGround. Click here for more information on Tom and the rest of the HigherGround team!
HigherGround, Inc. provides best-in-class, reliable data capture and interaction storage solutions that enable clients to easily retrieve critical information. Our interaction recording and incident reconstruction solutions transform data into actionable intelligence, allowing optimization of operations, enhanced performance, and cost reduction.