Deadline Extended for State Data Collection for FirstNet Planning

Officials are giving states an additional two months for initial data collection sought by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). The original deadline had been July 31; the new deadline will be Sept. 30. A number of state officials had complained that the earlier deadline would make it difficult for them to collect sufficient data to be considered in FirstNet’s final request for proposals (RFP), which is expected to be released by the end of 2015.

The data collection is being conducted using the second phase of State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP) funding. Officials had told states that refined data submitted after July 31 would still be considered in the preparation of FirstNet state plans but not FirstNet’s final RFP (TRDaily, March 23).

In a blog posting, Amanda Hilliard, FirstNet’s director-outreach, cited webinars that FirstNet had this week with federal, state, local, and tribal public safety officials to discuss the special notice and draft RFP and third public notice released recently (TRDaily, April 24 and April 27) and data collection. “During Wednesday’s webinar, I discussed state data collection efforts around coverage, users and operational areas, capacity planning, and current providers and procurement,” she said.

“Based on feedback and recommendations we have received from our consultation with the states and territories, FirstNet has extended the deadline for states and territories to submit their initial data on those topics by two months, to September 30, 2015. I explained how FirstNet will work quickly to incorporate the states’ information into its final RFP in order to meet the target release date of December 31, 2015.”

“I’m quite pleased with the new deadline of September 30,” Bill Schrier, Washington state’s FirstNet single point of contact (SPOC) and chair of the state’s Interoperability Executive Committee, told TRDaily. “The State of Washington is actively working with one of our partners – Washington State University – to develop an online survey tool to collect this data, and expect that tool to be ready by mid-May.  So we hope to have some data ready for FirstNet by July 31 anyway.

But some of the information FirstNet has requested – specific coverage maps for example – is hard to obtain via an online survey.  We will need to plan and conduct an in-person conference for first responders and others to encourage data collection and determine elements such as coverage around our state and capacity required.

The new deadline gives us more flexibility during the busy summer months to obtain input from our responder community.” Mr. Schrier added, “There is also skepticism from some responder agencies (both first responders but also other responders and especially private companies) about why the data is being collected and how it will be used.

This new deadline gives us additional time to work individually with such agencies and companies to address those concerns and obtain better, more thorough, information to help FirstNet develop its RFP.” Mr. Schrier said that based on a FirstNet webinar held today, “they want data sooner if they can get it, e.g. an initial dump on July 31st, second one on August 26th, third one on Sept 30th or whatever works.  And they’ll accept whatever they can get.”- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com