As the IAEM-USA representative to the FirstNet Authority Public Safety Advisory Committee, I am looking for member input on two targeted areas for discussion at the upcoming Committee Meeting on June 27. Please provide your thoughts on the following topic areas:
Coverage Prioritization - consider if you were to look at all the locations in your jurisdiction where there are existing coverage gaps and you had limited funds for overcoming those gaps, what criteria would you use to prioritize them?
Across our emergency management discipline please provide feedback on your knowledge, use, and satisfaction with FirstNet along with what are leading opportunities you perceive with respect to FirstNet equipment and applications such as push-to-talk, and deployable resources. Thank you!
Would you like us to provide comments here or email them to you directly?
Good morning Spencer,
Thank you! Please feel free to email your comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Cathy -
I wrote about my experience (so far!) with FirstNet, in the August, 2020 issue of The Bulletin. I've attached an internal-use excerpt so you can quickly access. For me, I have found coverage prioritization issues - even in high density UASI zones like where I live in Union County, NJ. What the issue for me, is that AT&T is utilizing its existing commercial cell tower systems to support 4G - and is slow to rollout 5G for Band 14, in my humble opinion. At the very least, we - as individual subscribers - have no knowledge about what the progress is for coverage and capability of this growing network. I have also heard of spotty coverage in rural Washington State - places where first responders can take up to an hour to travel to a call, from their dispatch point/time. Their use of LMR and trunking radio systems has a broader coverage than the AT&T commercial cellular network in many places, it seems.
I also know I continue to have a very low level of customer support from my local AT&T store, as a single user-owner Black Sim holder. Since I do not have a major purchasing department behind me (with staff and $), many times it takes me FOREVER to get something fixed (billing issues, equipment tech concerns, etc.). I cannot in good conscience recommend individuals on a volunteer first responder department (by the way EMs were not included in the original 'list' of authorized subscribers, nor were hospital staff, nor members of the National Guard, nor Red Cross volunteers, like me) or the majority of local OEMs (who buy their own PPE, tech, etc.) switch to FirstNet, without some additional advocacy and support from their organization on their behalf with AT&T.
I would also really, really love to see some common and approved/endorsed/authorized smartphone apps for all FirstNet users. A Disaster Response specific PTT app (one where Planning/Logistics in the ICS can 'on the fly' add any FirstNet user to the Comms Plan) is what is needed. For voice calling, accountability checks, IAP distribution, etc. Maybe DHS' S&T can sponsor the development of said Smartphone application to distribute for free to all users. Happy to discuss further in detail, if you want.
------------------------------Michael Prasad, MA, CEM®Senior Research AnalystBarton Dunant - Emergency Management Training and Consulting.
------------------------------Catherine M ClarkBusiness Continuity DirectorMinnesota Department of Public SafetySt Paul MN6127571027------------------------------
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