Although the District of Columbia only covers 68 square miles, it is home to nearly one-third of the nation’s federal sites and host to more than 22 million visitors from around the world each year. In order to accommodate the hundreds of special events and festivals in the District each year, the City’s first responders must prepare to coordinate not only amongst themselves, but with law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical service personnel from around the region to provide mutual aid.
The First Responder Network Authority team recognizes the unique communications challenges that D.C. first responders face. We have been working closely with District public safety officials since 2014, capturing their feedback and working with AT&T, our network partner, to translate it into the design of the FirstNet network. During the development of state deployment plans, our team worked hand-in-hand with District leaders to ensure the plan was customized to address their needs, including:
- Providing sufficient capacity to support a large number of federal users
- Enhancing communications and coordination across the National Capital Region
- Providing quick access to deployables
Following this close collaboration, the District chose to adopt the plan and “opt in” to FirstNet. Today, we continue to meet regularly with District officials to discuss their public safety broadband needs. In 2019 alone, our team met with District public safety officials more than 30 times. Our engagements in the District included a FirstNet User Forum, meeting with the D.C. Interoperability Communications Committee, and providing on-the-ground support at several major events such as the Right to Life March, the Women’s March, and the Nationals’ victory parade. Engagements like these are crucial to the ongoing success of the network and the advancement of public safety communications across the District of Columbia and the nation.
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FirstNet in Action in District of Columbia
- The Office of Unified Communications (OUC) in Washington D.C. is responsible for 9-1-1 and 3-1-1 calls in the nation’s capital, as well as dispatch services and radio communications for D.C. first responders. The OUC handles nearly 3.5 million emergency and non-emergency calls each year. When the pandemic hit, the OUC turned to FirstNet MiFis to support remote telework for 3-1-1 and non-emergency 9-1-1 call takers, keeping staff safe while answering the call for D.C. residents and visitors.
- Despite having large crowds descend upon the relatively small area of the National Mall, first responders did not experience disrupted communications during the 2017 Presidential Inauguration thanks to extensive planning and the help of several FirstNet deployable network assets.