AT&T Creates Emergency Drop Kits for FirstNet Public-Safety Communications
Monday, August 06, 2018 | Comments

AT&T FirstNet, in collaboration with Sonim Technologies, is creating Emergency Drop Kits. The portable kits will envelop first responders in a 300-foot “connected bubble,” letting them maintain constant communications to better coordinate their response.

The kits are moving from a proof of concept to a reality for future availability to purchase.

The kits are being designed for use during emergencies in rural and remote areas, as well as areas where communications may be temporarily unavailable such as wildfires or hurricanes. Incident commanders will be able to drop in the kits for rapid connectivity to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). First responders will also be able to take the kits with them in the field.

Ideal for short-term situations or as an interim solution until a FirstNet-dedicated deployable arrives, a typical kit will include:
• A Cradlepoint Long Term Evolution (LTE) router equipped with a FirstNet Ready MC400 modem and integrated Wi-Fi. This will provide a highly secure and reliable data communications hub with intelligent failover to Inmarsat Government satellite service.
• Four FirstNet Ready Sonim XP8 devices preloaded with FirstNet certified and reviewed apps, such as Intrepid Response, to help improve public safety’s situational awareness.

“This is a great example of how FirstNet is driving focused innovation for first responders,” said Chris Sambar, senior vice president, AT&T FirstNet. “To create the Emergency Drop Kits, we’re pulling in expertise from public safety and across the industry. The kits will make it even easier for first responders to stay connected to the full capabilities of their network — no matter where their mission takes them.”

FirstNet will bring first responders added coverage and capacity through the band 14 buildout. The build is also bringing more network resiliency to first responders, as critical sites are being hardened to meet their needs. The drop kits will serve as an additional tool to help ensure first responders are not without the critical communications they rely on.

The AT&T FirstNet team is also establishing a Response Operations Program to strengthen public safety’s command and control of their network. The program aligns with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) to better guide the deployment of the FirstNet-dedicated deployable assets based on the needs of public safety.

FirstNet users have a “lending library” of deployable assets, but they don’t have the situational awareness to make sure those resources go where public safety needs them most. With the Response Operations Program, the AT&T FirstNet team is working to embed liaisons within each state emergency operations center (EOC) to deploy assets based on their situational awareness of life safety, incident stabilization and property conservation.

“First responders don’t just deserve their own network and communications platform. They deserve a true network partner,” said Fred Scalera, director of public safety strategy and policy, AT&T FirstNet, and former public-safety official. “That’s what they are getting with FirstNet and the new Response Operations Program. As their partner, we don’t control where deployable assets go. Public safety does.”

The AT&T FirstNet team is working to meet with every state to properly tailor the program to their distinct needs. During incidents, dedicated liaisons will be available to provide 24/7 support to the state EOCs. And as the program continues to grow, liaisons will join county and municipal EOCs where personnel are available to do so.

Liaisons will serve as the primary link between public safety and their FirstNet resources, coordinating across federal, state, local and tribal agencies. For example, after a tornado in Connecticut wiped out a third party’s fiber lines, AT&T FirstNet found a solution to restore the physical network in hours versus days to keep FirstNet users connected. And when the Texas City (Texas) Police Department requested a deployable network asset for additional emergency support, FirstNet deployed an asset within hours.

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