Three images: In the first, FirstNet Authority Board Chair Edward Horowitz delivers a speech. In the second, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams and Phoenix Fire Department Assistant Chief Scott Walker are seated at a table. The third shows a large crowd of public safety officials with a table of Phoenix public safety leaders seated at the front of the room. Overlaid is a graphic representation of a network.

Blazing a Path Forward to Advance, Grow FirstNet

At the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), one of the most important jobs we have is to engage with public safety. This especially rings true as we develop the FirstNet Authority Roadmap, which will guide the growth, evolution, and advancement of FirstNet and serve as a guide for the future of the network.

That’s why our team hit the road again last week to meet with public safety officials and discuss their operational needs for mobile broadband communications today and in the coming years. Nearly one hundred stakeholders from across the nation joined us in blazing hot Phoenix to help build the FirstNet Authority Roadmap. The dynamic crowd, which included representatives from all disciplines of public safety and FirstNet users, brought critically important perspectives that will shape the Roadmap and the future of public safety broadband.

Participants were graciously welcomed by local public safety leaders, Phoenix Police Department Chief Jeri Williams and Phoenix Fire Department Assistant Chiefs Shelly Jamison and Scott Walker. We were pleased to also have opening addresses by FirstNet Authority Board Chair Edward Horowitz, FirstNet Authority Board Vice Chair Richard Stanek, and AT&T’s Senior Vice President for FirstNet Chris Sambar. 

Board Chair Horowitz set a collaborative tone early by encouraging attendees to speak openly about their experiences with FirstNet and freely share ideas on what is needed most from the network. Speaking to the group, he said, “The Roadmap will be a living plan to ensure we capture the needs of the community we serve — public safety. Today is about looking to the future and ensuring we maximize the impact of FirstNet in your daily operations.”

Next, I joined members of our Enterprise Strategy Division – including Executive Director Jeremy Zollo – to walk through the Roadmap framework in deeper detail, explaining how the Roadmap will be used to shape programs, policies, and investments for public safety communications. Attendees used this foundational information to participate in individual breakouts for the bulk of the day. Together with FirstNet Authority staff, participants reviewed the draft priorities within the Roadmap’s domains — coverage and capacity, situational awareness, voice communications, secure information exchange, and user experience.

Through these facilitated discussions, attendees validated public safety feedback that had been collected through previous Roadmap engagements. They also reviewed draft priorities identified for each of the domains, sharing their personal and professional perspectives on each. The priorities resonated with a broad public safety audience, and participants emphasized that they generally reflected the needs of public safety.

With the Roadmap guiding our time and resource investments going forward, this feedback was especially important. Additionally, attendees expressed appreciation for the opportunity to ensure public safety’s voice is infused in every part of the Roadmap.

The FirstNet Authority team also encouraged participants to continue sharing input with us and consider attending future engagement opportunities to help us advance the network. This includes national and state association meetings, agency meetings, technology and operations workshops, webinars, tribal consultations, and training exercises. For more information about engaging with the FirstNet Authority, please contact your FirstNet Authority Public Safety Advisor.

Overall, the summit proved to be a valuable opportunity for our team to get direct feedback from first responders and discuss how we can advance the network together. I would like to thank everyone who attended. A special thank you to the local public safety leadership team for hosting us. Please look for more information about the FirstNet Authority Roadmap at the June 26th FirstNet Authority Board Meeting in Indianapolis.

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