Public-Safety Agencies Demo FirstNet During Boston Marathon
Wednesday, May 02, 2018 | Comments

During the 2018 Boston Marathon, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) team and AT&T distributed 80 FirstNet devices to fire, police and incident response teams from the cities of Boston and Brookline. Thirty of these phones were outfitted with subscriber identity module (SIM) cards and connected to the dedicated FirstNet Core.

First responders participating in the demonstration used FirstNet-ready devices with push to talk (PTT) and LMR integration applications. These first responders also had an opportunity to test FirstNet’s core that operates with physically separate hardware.

Scott Wilder, director of technology and communications for the Brookline (Massachusetts) Police Department, noticed the difference when communicating over FirstNet’s network compared with the network that failed to sustain his wireless connection while on duty during the 2013 Boston Marathon, when two bombs killed three people and injured hundreds near the finish line.

“Having the FirstNet application and the FirstNet network in place would have kept those communications we lost active,” Wilder said. “If that happened today, we’d basically be doing what we’re doing today — we’d be able to communicate.”

Fire and police also used location-tracking applications with new capabilities for coordination response efforts to track personnel and resources. The Boston Fire Department could see the exact position of individual responders displayed on screens in its communications center and mobile command units. Commanders knew which responder was closest to an incident and made real-time decisions to dispatch the closest responder saving valuable time.

Similarly, the Boston Police Department used the tracking software to pinpoint the lead runners in all major race categories. From a public-safety perspective, tracking the fastest runners proved valuable for making decisions about crowd control and street closings.

A full blog on the demonstration is here.

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