FirstNet Releases Updated Road Map
Tuesday, October 27, 2020 | Comments

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) released an update to its road map.

FirstNet said that the updated road map incorporates feedback from thousands of public-safety stakeholders and reflects emerging technology trends identified by academic and industry experts in communications and technology.

Following its release in August 2019, FirstNet began implementing the road map with network investments in two road map priority areas: the core and coverage. FirstNet invested $200 million to help put the nationwide public-safety broadband network on the path to 5G and expand the network’s fleet of deployable assets to ensure FirstNet subscribers have coverage and capacity during emergencies and events.

“As we began to act on the blueprint laid out in the road map, we recognized that the network today is not what it was when we first began drafting the road map two years ago,” Brian Hobson, senior director of the FirstNet Authority Roadmap Development Division, wrote in a blog. “The network continues to see expansive buildout and adoption across the nation, with more than 14,000 agencies now on the network, totaling 1.7 million connections according to our network contractor, AT&T. Also, as public-safety agencies increasingly integrate mobile broadband into their daily operations, new communications needs are emerging.”

Hobson wrote that FirstNet focused on engaging public safety in order to update the road map to reflect changing needs.

“To develop this update, we also included a more data-driven approach, incorporating polling and quantitative research into our data collection and public-safety engagements,” Hobson wrote. “This approach has provided us with more insight into the capabilities of the network and enabled us to get more specific and action-oriented feedback about key road map areas. Additionally, interviewing academic and industry experts, plus a review of relevant publications, provided critical perspectives on long-term technology trends applicable to the public-safety community.”

Following those engagements, FirstNet determined that the six technology domains that formed the basis of the original road map should remain the same. Instead, the updated road map features changes to the priorities and key technologies supporting each domain. Some examples of these changes highlighted by Hobson include:
Coverage: Public safety still places a high priority on indoor and outdoor coverage, but the road map has now been updated to include an emphasis on unique coverage solutions that can address the different environments that first responders operate in.
Situational Awareness: During the engagements, first responders said that it is extremely important to be able to locate public-safety personnel, including vertical location within buildings and mapping. In the new road map, this section now acknowledges the need for both a near- and long-term technology evolution perspective, recognizing that public safety will need tools to process large volumes of data and turn that data into useful, actionable information.
FirstNet push to talk (PTT): Following the launch of FirstNet PTT in March, the updated road map continues to prioritize features and support in operationalizing the solution and also includes mission-critical video and data.

“The outcome is a strategic planning document that sets the direction for how the FirstNet Authority can evolve broadband technologies to address first responders’ critical communications needs,” Hobson wrote. “It will help the FirstNet Authority direct resources to the most promising and impactful priorities, both short and long term.”

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Comments
On 11/9/20, John Hartsock said:
What is being done about site resilience i.e. loss of utility power. In a recent series of events here in Oregon this was a significant issue.

On 10/29/20, John Contestabile said:
I agree with the premise that situational awareness is extremely important I wrote an article in this publication about that ....but I suggest in order to achieve that we need to improve data interoperability and that FirstNet ought to take more of a leadership role in this area...particularly in their approach standards for credentialing security transport of various content video in particular .


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