Top Public-Safety Issues: Spectrum, 9-1-1 Location, FirstNet/LMR Integration
Monday, November 26, 2018 | Comments
Marilyn Ward, executive director of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC), shares her views on public-safety issues in this exclusive interview.

What will be the biggest issue facing public safety during 2019? I think there are three key areas: spectrum (T-band, 4.9 GHz and 6 GHz); 9-1-1 location accuracy; and operational integration of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and land mobile communications.

What FCC policy issue is most pressing for public safety right now? There are two separate areas. The first is protecting public-safety spectrum from interference if spectrum sharing advances and defining the rules for next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) including location accuracy.

The second area is the UHF T-band spectrum, which is a policy issue, but favorably resolving it lies primarily with Congress and not the FCC.

What main areas will NPSTC focus on during the coming year? The areas I have already mentioned will continue into next year. We will continue our focus on internet of things (IoT), which will become a major issue for public-safety agencies soon. We will also continue to examine how mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT) will function. In addition, we will continue to work with our federal partner organizations, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), DHS Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) and Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR).

We are active in the SAFECOM program and participate on most of its committees. SAFECOM has been working on the Communications Leader program (COML) and National Incident Management System (NIMS) structure to expand and update tasks for communications responders and elevate their role in NIMS. The changes in technology and responses are more complicated than in the past, and we will continue to support the work of SAFECOM with this and its other activities.

NPSTC will also serve the public-safety community on all new issues that arise.

What was NPSTC’s biggest accomplishment during 2018? NPSTC’s biggest accomplishment each year is to provide a venue in which public-safety representatives from multiple disciplines can gather to discuss critical issues, reach consensus on positions and advocate for next steps. NPSTC continues to support many working group activities and has been active collecting information and publishing pertinent reports. Our processes allow for open and transparent meetings where everyone is invited to contribute. Prior to governing board approval, our publications go through a public-safety-only review process, then approval by the 16 public-safety members on the board. NPSTC is the only organization that operates in this fashion and has been working as a volunteer federation for more than 20 years.

Can you recap your work this year? We would like to thank all the volunteers that participate in bringing public-safety expertise together in NPSTC. Through their hard work, this year we have been able to publish the following reports for public safety:
• Public Safety LMR LTE Interoperability Report
• Cross Border 9-1-1 Data Sharing
• Prehospital Notification in Time Sensitive Medical Emergencies
• Radio Interoperability Best Practices Combined Report
• Using UAS for Communications Support

Two MCPTT reports are being finalized by the end of this year. The first is MCPTT Talkgroup Naming to Support Interoperability, and the second is MCPTT and First Responder Identity Management.

In addition, the contribution of callers into our spectrum committee meetings have assisted NPSTC in drafting and filing positions with the FCC on 4.9 GHz, new technology and services, a medical device waiver request, dispatchable locations, Z-axis 9-1-1 indoor location and the RADWIN petition.

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