Back to Basics at the Colorado APCO/NENA Conference

October 15, 2014
Kristi Wilde visits public safety communications professionals in Colorado. (From L to R) Scott Newman, Acting Director Adcom 911; Mike Brunswig, Assistant Director of Administration, Kristi Wilde and Kim Coleman Madsen, State of Colorado FirstNet team.
Kristi Wilde visits public safety communications professionals in Colorado. (From L to R) Scott Newman, Acting Director Adcom 911; Mike Brunswig, Assistant Director of Administration, Kristi Wilde and Kim Coleman Madsen, State of Colorado FirstNet team.

By Kristi Wilde, FirstNet Outreach Coordinator

Last week I had the privilege to provide a FirstNet update at the Colorado APCO/NENA State Conference in Westminster. The theme of this year's conference was "Back to Basics," and more than 130 enthusiastic and engaged telecommunicators, supervisors, and managers were in attendance. Their dedication to this profession and readiness to learn were on display at the conference’s panel discussions, keynote presentations, and workshops.

Keeping with the conference theme, I provided an overview of FirstNet and discussed the benefits of a nationwide public safety broadband network. I also talked about the general public’s expectations for first responders as technology evolves and mobility becomes the norm. Among the goals of the network will be to improve situational awareness and provide first responders with cutting-edge capabilities over an inherently redundant and interoperable network.

Being a former 9-1-1- professional, I noted some of the similarities between the deployment of the NPSBN and Next Generation 911 (NG911), such as the importance of planning, governance, and outreach, as well as how both efforts aim to modernize emergency communications networks nationwide to improve the safety and security of the public.

During my presentation, I was joined by Kim Coleman Madsen from the Colorado Governor’s Office of Internet Technology, who is the FirstNet/Public Safety Broadband Manager for the state. Kim discussed Colorado’s FirstNet outreach efforts to date and emphasized the importance of involving public safety answering points (PSAPs) in the FirstNet planning process for Colorado. Daryl Branson, the Executive Director of the Colorado 9-1-1 Resource Center, and John Wright, President of APCO International, also attended our session.

After, I had the opportunity to meet with President Wright to discuss APCO’s continuing advocacy for FirstNet. He talked about his involvement in the NPSTC Site Hardening report, which includes recommendations for consideration by FirstNet, and acknowledged the good work of the APCO Broadband Committee.

I also had the opportunity to listen to Kimberly Culp, Executive Director of Larimer Emergency Telephone Authority, present at a session. Larimer County is one of two counties in Colorado currently accepting text to 9-1-1 calls using an integrated solution. She emphasized the importance of local planning and decisions for NG911, and provided a high level description of how Larimer County handled the implementation of text to 9-1-1. She also spent some time discussing “real world” examples of how the technology is helping make the community safer.

Kim and I wrapped up the day with a visit to the Adams County Communication Center, Inc. (ADCOM 911 Inc.) 9-1-1, which is deploying a 700 Megahertz (MHZ) Long Term Evolution (LTE) network on a grant from the NTIA Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). Scott Newman, Acting Executive Director, and Mike Brunswig, Assistant Director of Administration were generous with their time as we talked about their experiences since launching the network in June. This includes use of the network during a Phish concert last month. During that event, they were able to demonstrate the benefits of using their network compared to commercial-based services. We finished with a tour of their 9-1-1 operations floor, which features an open design that facilitates easy communication between dispatchers, ergonomic workstations, and materials that minimize noise levels.

Many thanks to all who welcomed me to Colorado last week, and most especially to the coordinated efforts of the Colorado FirstNet team and Kim Coleman Madsen. FirstNet looks forward to hearing more about what the state is doing to prepare for the network at the Colorado initial consultation meeting in 2015. For more information on FirstNet in Colorado, please visit FirstNetColorado.org.

Thanks
-Kristi

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