Tech for Emergency Responders

The First Responder Network Authority or referred to as “FirstNet Authority”  is the nation’s public safety broadband network. The network was developed by the public safety community fighting for their own network because commercial carriers weren’t meeting their needs.

First net innovation and momentum is moving forward. Cities are integrating FirstNet into their public safety services and smart communities by providing a network with reliable high-speed connections and interoperability.

The network established through a public private partnership between the FirstNet Authority and AT&T, is modernizing critical communications for first responders. Last year, the network had 425,000 connections with AT&T deploying 40% of Band 14 which is FirstNet’s dedicated spectrum for public safety.

The network then granted AT&T the right to use Band 14 specifically to support public safety subscribers on First Net. In one year, the network attracted one million connections plus 75% of Band 14 has been rolled out to communities nationwide.

The network is also focused on expanding access to rural first responders and has partnered with AT&T to launch new FirstNet cell sites in Maryland, Minnesota, West Virginia, and Wyoming, with more states being added. To specifically address rural areas, a Memorandum of Understanding was established with the University of Mississippi Medical Center to share lessons learned on how to effectively use rural telehealth.

FirstNet is also delivering new solutions that have never been available for use in public safety. One solution is the use of “Satellite Cell on Light Trucks” (SatCOLT) which are mobile cell sites that link to FirstNet via satellites which aren’t dependent on commercial power.

Also, AT&T’s 3 new flying “Cells on Wheels” (COWs) drones are available 24/7 at no cost to FirstNet agencies which helps to keep the wireless network operating in a disaster. This makes it possible for FirstNet to cover two times the areas and to stay aloft for about two weeks.

Using SatCOLT and COWs is preparing First Net to use artificial intelligence to help improve public safety operations and help develop promising technologies in 2020 to help FirstNet prepare for the use of 5G.

So far, Nellis Air Force Base has selected AT&T to provide 5G and FirstNet Service to support wireless data and voice services connecting the base’s personnel and families. Another potential use for 5G at Nellis, is to improve virtual geographically distributed training for their Virtual Test and Training Center.         

FirstNet has developed their FirstNet Authority roadmap which provides insight into public safety’s operational need and technology trends for mobile broadband communications over the next five years.

To further develop 21st century technology, FirstNet has been working with the Department of Commerce to develop a $1 million grant program to accelerate the development of response and resiliency technologies. The “Accelerate R2 Challenge”, program is going to work with a network of entrepreneurs selected for the Challenge.

Go to for more information on the Accelerate R2 Challenge.

In other news, the goal is to help emergency responders by preventing cybersecurity attacks against emergency communications systems. The Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate has just awarded $750,000 to SecuLore Solutions, a Maryland-based cybersecurity company.

Via the R&D project, SecuLore will use predictive analytics and collect cyber data to determine whether these resources can be used to improve the detection and elimination of cybersecurity attacks against emergency communications systems.

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