FirstNet Conducts State Consultation Meeting with Minnesota (9/30/14)
Tuesday, September 30, 2014 | Comments

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) conducted its initial state consultation meeting with Minnesota. This was FirstNet’s second state consultation meeting, following a July meeting with Maryland. The Minnesota meeting included key public-safety leaders from across the state, including Commissioner Mona Dohman of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, who also serves as the state’s single point of contact (SPOC) for FirstNet. Dozens of state and local public-safety representatives from across the state also attended.

“One lesson learned from the Maryland meeting was the importance of hearing directly from local public-safety officials,” said Dave Buchanan, director state consultation, FirstNet. “We brought this lesson learned to our planning with Minnesota, which resulted in multiple representatives from a diversity of agencies and public-safety disciplines participating the consultation.”

Minnesota officials started with an overview of the state’s governance efforts to coordinate planning for the network, as well as details of their approach to collecting user information and coverage priorities.

Jackie Mines, director of emergency communication networks for the state of Minnesota, provided an update on the Minnesota-FirstNet Consultation Project (Mn-FCP), which is the leading the state’s education and outreach initiatives. The main project objectives are to prepare the state and its public-safety communications governance structure for FirstNet consultation; perform the consultation process required under the Act; and develop the Minnesota strategic plan.

Mines had several local public-safety responders speak to specific incidents in the state, including the I-35W bridge collapse, the Pagami Creek Wildfire and the multiple Red River floods. The speakers explained how emergency responders used mobile data in each instance, if it was available, and how a dedicated mobile data network could have enhanced their response efforts to those emergencies, Buchanan said in a blog about the meeting.

“Another lesson learned from Maryland was having a dialog about the FirstNet organization, our planning, strategy and approach,” said Buchanan. “Starting the conversation by establishing a baseline of knowledge was critical. We were able to open the Minnesota meeting with significant dialog about the FirstNet acquisition strategy, RFI [request for information], SOO [statement of objectives], and notice and public comment approach, which provided every Minnesota participant with most up-to-date information and specific details about FirstNet. This resulted in a more productive meeting, and allowed the more of the dialog to focus on the consultative topics like coverage, capacity, user population and use case examples.”

During the September FirstNet board meeting, officials said the next meetings will take place in Oregon, Washington and Montana, with a goal of conducting six to eight more by the end of the year.

More information about Minnesota's plan can be found here.

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