AT&T Outlines New FirstNet Tools Coming Out in Next 12 Months
Friday, March 29, 2019 | Comments

To mark the first anniversary of the launch of the dedicated public-safety core for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), AT&T outlined some of its plans for the FirstNet network over the next year.

AT&T plans to roll out several new tools including the FirstNet Assist app, single sign on, encrypted assets and increased network visibility.

The FirstNet Assist app, slated to be available in the coming months, will take FirstNet customer service mobile. The app will also allow first responders that have been assigned a lower level of priority or FirstNet users providing essential services to support public safety, such as utilities or transportation, to request priority uplift from the field. Once approved by the command post manager, this will enable these users to access higher priority levels. The ability to request priority uplift will be available upon entering a 50-mile radius of an emergency, making it easier for command post managers to quickly uplift those critical to a response.

In the first webinar of a series about the FirstNet App Catalog put on by MissionCritical Communications magazine and FirstNet, built with AT&T, an AT&T executive discussed the FirstNet Assist app. Watch the webinar on demand here.

FirstNet Single Sign On gives first responders easy access to participating applications and other mobile destinations while maintaining a highly secure environment without the need to constantly re-authenticate, providing both user convenience and quick access for first responders in critical scenarios.

AT&T is also fortifying its FirstNet-dedicated satellite cell on light trucks (SatCOLTs). As FirstNet subscribers connect to these assets, their communications are encrypted across satellite links. This creates a more secure network environment for public safety. The FirstNet SatCOLTs are part of the nationwide fleet of 72 dedicated deployable network assets available 24/7 at the request of FirstNet subscribers and at no additional charge.

The new tools also include a higher level of network visibility. Enhancements to the local control portal’s network status map will help public-safety administrators better understand what’s going on with the network at any given time. Plus, in alignment with data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), agency administrators can now overlay the status of ongoing flood and fire borders in relation to their jurisdiction for added situational awareness.

AT&T will also roll out two new tools for developers. The FirstNet Single Sign-On software development kit (SDK) will help developers integrate single sign on directly into their apps.

AT&T is expanding First Priority service on the network to automatically apply to critical public-safety apps sourced from the FirstNet App Catalog, and the FirstNet App Priority application program interface (API) will assist developers in adding priority to their apps.

Developers must request permission to use the API to build the highest level of priority access into their app, which will also need to be submitted for review and approval.

AT&T expects App Priority to be especially beneficial during mutual-aid situations where multiple first responders are involved and relying on intelligence from key apps as part of their complex response.

Both the SDK and API can be found in the FirstNet Developer Portal.

AT&T said that in the year since the dedicated public-safety core launched, 90 devices have been tested and approved to operate on the core. Of those, 50 are FirstNet Ready, which means they also support access to band 14. Additionally, the app catalog now has more than 50 iOS and Android apps, representing 30-plus unique apps relevant to the public-safety mission. Two solutions from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — eNIFOG and eAUXFOG — have also been added.

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