Every summer, thousands of people travel to western Indiana for the Terre Haute airshow—a two-day event that features the Navy’s famous Blue Angels and other aircraft. While pilots spend months preparing to perform daring tricks in the air, public safety and state and local officials spend months preparing for the event on the ground. With several local, state, and federal first responders supporting the event, organizers for the 2018 event were looking for ways to enhance public safety communications.
The age of FirstNet stands to deliver situational awareness and data for Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs), whether for emergency managers in rural or metro areas in the US. When police needed to search a 300-acre wooded property in rural Alabama, they used a mix of traditional police work and cutting-edge technology to try to find evidence that could provide a long-sought break in a missing persons case.
The sharing of data via FirstNet is enabling first responders to have more information available at their fingertips to help with their lifesaving mission. Today, through over-the-top push-to-talk (PTT) apps, first responders can use FirstNet’s always-on, reliable connection to collaborate — including sharing pictures, videos, texts, and other data in real time. With enhanced communications, public safety can be better prepared to keep themselves and the communities they serve safe.
Priority and preemption are a few of the crucial features FirstNet provides to first responders, especially during large planned events with thousands of participants, such as the annual International Balloon Festival in Albuquerque. In years past, first responders at the festival reported poor connectivity on commercial networks due to attendees’ high volume of voice calls, texts, and social media posts. But using FirstNet, public safety’s dedicated network, for this year’s festival, they had a dramatically different—and better—experience.
FirstNet Enabled Location Services: Enhancing Situational Awareness and Improving Public Safety Outcomes
Whether securing large events or responding to local emergencies, it can be a challenge for public safety to keep track of where first responders are positioned. Historically, tracking first responders in the field meant repeated radio roll-calls where units identify with their call sign and location and incident scribes map the scene on a white board – a labor-intensive process that didn’t provide the up-to-the-minute situational awareness incident commanders need for optimal decision-making.
When the town of Newport, Rhode Island hosted the 2018 Volvo Ocean Race, it was the only North American stopover out of 12 cities on six continents during this around-the-world sailing event. For 13 days in May, over 100,000 tourists and sailing enthusiasts descended onto Newport’s Race Village in Fort Adams State Park to witness one of the world’s toughest sailings competitions.
Emergency managers are at the center of community preparedness and response should an emergency or disaster strike. As hurricane season is upon us, it is a reminder of the important work of our nation’s emergency managers who put service to their communities first in times of need.