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Public works staff from Gainesville, Florida consult several screens showing live stream video from around the city.

FirstNet & Public Works: Restoring Lifeline Services in an Efficient Manner

May 19, 2020

Traditional first responders—law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, 911/dispatch and emergency management—often rely on a broad ecosystem of partners to help them coordinate response efforts that keep people safe. Public works, utilities, schools and hospitals are critical in helping public safety officials better plan for, respond to, and recover from incidents that can overwhelm communities.

FirstNet is designed for the public safety community, but it is also available to the extended community that is called on to help support first responders during emergency response and recovery. These extended primary users can include essential government services, education, healthcare, transportation, utilities, and other organizations. 

Communities connect multiple agencies

Many municipalities are turning to FirstNet to provide emergency communication services to multiple agencies. The City of San José became the first to deploy FirstNet to all public safety personnel and emergency response staff, including their local airport, public works, transportation, and environmental services agencies. The City of Annapolis is taking a similar approach—Annapolis Police Department, Public Works, the Office of Emergency Management, the Transportation Department, and Recreation and Parks all utilize FirstNet to support an interoperable approach to public safety communications.

For Philip Mann, Public Works Director for the City of Gainesville in Florida, access to FirstNet helps them work more effectively when clearing the way for other responders. He said, “We used the FirstNet service for our response. If we’ve got trees blocking roads, police and fire can’t get to citizens who need help. Our utility company can’t get to downed power lines to restore power.”

Gainesville’s public works use FirstNet on their cell phones and tablets to deploy resources and people, track work orders, and communicate with staff in the field. With these tools in place, they can get their work done more efficiently, and work in partnership with other responders.

The FirstNet Authority listens to the extended community

Philip Mann also sits on the First Responder Network Authority’s Public Safety Advisory Committee, or PSAC, as a representative for the American Public Works Association. The PSAC offers FirstNet guidance, information, and subject matter expertise from a public safety perspective to ensure that user needs, requirements, and public safety operational capabilities are included in the network. By including representatives from the extended user community among our nearly fifty members, we ensure that broad interoperability is built into the network.

FirstNet provides vital connectivity and lifesaving tools for first responders—and the extended community that supports them.