Last week the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) held the bi-annual Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) meeting in Austin, Texas, bringing together more than 20 PSAC members. The FirstNet Authority leadership team also participated in the day-long meeting, including Board Members Paul Patrick, Mayor Billy Hewes, and Karima Holmes, as well as Executive Director Edward Parkinson and senior FirstNet Authority experts.
PSAC Chair Todd Early kicked off the meeting by recognizing PSAC members for their work in 2019 to ensure that first responders nationwide can access FirstNet. Todd then introduced new PSAC members Chief Greg Rubin, representative for the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and Reenie Askew, representative for the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Committee members also learned about the Tribal Working Group’s 2019 activities and accomplishments.
Edward Parkinson’s opening remarks highlighted the FirstNet Authority’s key accomplishments, plans to expand the FirstNet network in 2020, and key initiatives to grow the network’s public safety ecosystem through innovation within the public safety broadband marketplace. Parkinson also thanked the PSAC for its role in providing input and feedback for the FirstNet Authority Roadmap (Roadmap) with focus on the six technology domains. Acknowledging the group’s efforts, he said, “When we think about the work and commitment that helped to develop the FirstNet Authority Roadmap, the PSAC provided key strategic direction to guide and advance FirstNet’s future investments.”
Newly appointed senior vice president for AT&T’s FirstNet program Jason Porter was also in attendance to provide updates on FirstNet adoption in 2019 and plans for network deployment and expanded coverage in 2020. With AT&T’s recent launch of FirstNet One, a deployable aerostat, Jason shared how AT&T is identifying opportunities to go above and beyond for public safety by providing unique solutions to bolster coverage and capacity nationwide.
John Beltz, IT Security Manager for the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Communication Technology Laboratory with the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Division delivered a presentation about the lab’s efforts to advance public safety technology in the marketplace. John emphasized the important work the PSCR team is doing around SIM card challenges and Identity, Credential, and Access Management (ICAM) solutions.
During the afternoon sessions, the FirstNet Authority team led talks focused on the Roadmap and previewed its 2020 strategy to engage public safety stakeholders. Several PSAC members took part in discussions focused on two of the six Roadmap domains – Voice Communications and Situational Awareness – sharing their experience communicating over FirstNet for day-to-day and emergency response.
The Brazos County Sheriff’s Department rounded off the day with a demonstration that showcased FirstNet use throughout the rural county. As both a FirstNet Early Builder pilot project and the first Texas agency to officially subscribe to FirstNet, the network’s advanced broadband capabilities have greatly improved situational awareness by connecting officers to live streaming video during incidents and natural disasters, including hurricanes.
As we close out 2019 and look to the year ahead, the FirstNet Authority would like to thank the PSAC for its continued commitment supporting the growth of FirstNet for first responders nationwide. We wish you and your families a very safe and happy new year!