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August 06, 2018 - In an emergency, communication is critical to response efforts. That’s why former public safety officials and first responders on the AT&T* FirstNet team, in collaboration with Sonim, are creating Emergency Drop Kits.
These portable kits will envelop first responders in a 300-foot “connected bubble,” letting them maintain constant communication to better coordinate their response.
The Emergency Drop Kits are being designed for use during emergencies in rural and remote areas, as well as areas where communications may be temporarily unavailable. Think wildfires or hurricanes.
Incident commanders will be able to drop in the kits for rapid connectivity to 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 Emergency Drop Kit will include:
“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. This will help provide greater access to the connectivity they need, where they need it. This includes rural and remote areas. 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 kits are currently moving from a proof of concept to a reality for future availability to purchase.
Giving public safety greater control of their network
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 to better guide the deployment of the FirstNet dedicated deployable assets based on the needs of public safety.
Right now, 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 currently 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. This will give public safety agencies a level of support during emergencies that’s far beyond anything they’ve ever seen.
This close integration with public safety and EOCs will enable the AT&T FirstNet team to better solve first responders’ communications challenges – whether via deploying network assets or expediting network restoration. For example, after a tornado in Connecticut wiped out a third-party’s fiber lines, we were able to find a solution to restore the physical network in hours versus days to keep FirstNet users connected. And, when the Texas City Police Department requested a deployable network asset for additional emergency support, FirstNet deployed an asset within hours.
“With FirstNet, we are finally seeing a network that understands and answers to our needs – no strings attached,” said Robert Turner, systems administrator, City of Texas City and Texas City Police Department. “This type of commitment is exactly what the public safety community is looking for.”
FirstNet is the nationwide public safety communications platform dedicated to America’s first responders. Being built with AT&T, in public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority, FirstNet is bringing public safety a much-needed technology upgrade to help them connect to the critical information they need.
Photo: Tweet by @billschrier -- At #FRI2018 @FredScalera and @Ryanfspack of @FirstNet with the new #FirstNet drop pack which has a satellite panel, 4 @sonimtech smartphones, @intrepidnetwrks situational awareness app and 12 hours of battery for use by #FirstResponders
I'm looking forward to working with AT&T and FirstNet in the future.