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Guam Workshop Highlights FirstNet Capabilities for Island Communities

December 3, 2018

Last week, the First Responder Network Authority held an Agency Operations and Technology Workshop in Tamuning, Guam, with nearly 80 public safety stakeholders in attendance.  Local, federal, and military agencies participated in the conference with representation from Guam’s Emergency Management, Fire, Police, DoD, and military.  Representatives from American Samoa and Hawaii also participated in the conference.

The workshop focused on existing public safety operations on the island and aimed to identify communications challenges and current capabilities that could be augmented by a broadband network dedicated to public safety.  Participants identified technologies used for response efforts and communications gaps in the delivery of public safety services during a typhoon-type event. 

The FirstNet Authority’s Fay Alailima-Rose led a presentation on broadband data use in public safety operations, background and history of the organization and partnership, and current and future service deployment of FirstNet service on Guam.  My presentation focused on efforts undertaken by the FirstNet Authority to promote broadband use by public safety and to help inform the design of the FirstNet network and services. 

During the afternoon sessions, I joined with Ms. Alilima-Rose and West Area Director Mike Worrell to conduct discipline-specific breakout sessions in emergency management, law enforcement, and fire services to discuss how public safety agencies in Guam use communications during typhoon and tsunami response.  These sessions mapped out the various technologies used within and across the three disciplines and identified gaps or needs for better interoperability.  The sessions touched on a common concern for Guam first responders lagging behind mainland counterparts when adopting new communications technologies.

Due to the island’s size and isolation, first responders rely heavily on existing systems, commercial services for mapping and interoperability, and local knowledge of geography and infrastructure. 

Overall, the workshop provided an opportunity for us to better understand public safety operations in Guam.  Participants enjoyed the opportunity to better understand how the FirstNet solution could enhance their operations in the future.  

Thanks to all those who attended the workshop.