FirstNet Announces 3 New Subscribers
Monday, June 11, 2018 | Comments

Three new public-safety agencies announced they subscribed to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) broadband service. The agencies include Fresno County (California) Sheriff-Coroner’s Office; city of Orem, Utah; and the Oglala Sioux Police Department in South Dakota.

“We can’t predict when, where or what emergencies will happen,” said Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims. “But whether it be a wildfire, earthquake or man-made disaster, it’s important that our deputies are equipped with the best technology possible to create the best response possible. Moving to FirstNet puts us in the best position to do that. We chose to move to FirstNet as a proactive measure as it will allow us to deliver vital safety services to the public — today and well into the future.”

Fresno County said its decision to join FirstNet was based on three factors: groundbreaking technology; immediate innovation; and coverage, capacity and control. The groundbreaking technology refers to always-on priority and pre-emption. Innovation comprises support for apps and video, along with a public-safety-focused applications ecosystem and a device portfolio.

“As California’s additional FirstNet build is completed over the next several years, we will have access to increased coverage and capacity,” the statement said. “This will help us support emergencies in all areas of the county as well as the state — from rural to urban. Plus, with FirstNet’s local control capability, we’re able to allocate communications resources in near real time to support our deputies who need them most.”

California was the last state in the country to opt in to FirstNet last year. “While significant progress was made, more work is needed for the FirstNet state plan to ultimately be a successful initiative that provides a durable public-safety communications network,” California Office of Emergency Services (OES) Director Mark Ghilarducci said in a Dec. 28 letter.

Orem Mayor Richard Brunst said that by subscribing to FirstNet, the city can help its first responders stay connected to necessary critical information and communicate during everyday situations, emergencies or big events such as this week’s SummerFest, a celebration where an estimated 30,000 residents are expected to attend.

“We’re proud to be early adopters of the FirstNet platform and to be among the first in the nation to have each of our fire, law enforcement, EMS and utilities all connected,” said Brunst. “The technology will transform how each organization communicates with each other for any day and any crisis. It’s important that we give our first responders the very best technology to help ensure quicker response times as we serve Orem’s residents.”

Along with priority and pre-emption and coverage, capacity and control, the city said system reliability was a decision factor. “Plus, AT&T will be held accountable by the First Responder Network Authority to deliver on their commitment to design and build a solution that meets our needs for years to come,” a statement said.

“The more public safety who sign up, the more we can work across agencies to save lives,” said Orem Chief of Police Gary Giles. “That’s why we encourage our fellow first responders statewide to take advantage of this one-of-a-kind solution.”

The Oglala Sioux Police Department is located on one of the largest land-based tribal reservations in the Unites States. The department previously had limited connectivity within its police vehicles. The officers were dependent on local police substations in each town to manage reporting and other administrative tasks, which took them away from patrolling duties.

“We have firsthand experience regarding the huge void that lack of communication can mean during critical incidents,” said Robert Ecoffey, Oglala Sioux chief of police. “Moving to FirstNet enhances our ability to respond to the serious needs across the reservation for the protection of life and property on behalf of tribal members and the public.”

A statement said AT&T will enhance coverage across the reservation, which has limited wireless broadband connectivity. The release also said several other tribal public-safety agencies in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest have also subscribed to FirstNet. An AT&T spokeswoman said five tribal public-safety agencies have subscribed to FirstNet service.

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