AT&T made a number of announcements today. FirstNet Assist is an app available later this year to allow extended primary users to request priority uplift during an incident. FirstNet Single-Sign-On will allow a user to logon with credentials once and have those credentials transferred to other apps on the device. The other apps do need to be modified with a software development kit (SDK) for that to work, and no apps presently have done that. But there are now about 60 apps in the FirstNet App Catalog and others in the pipeline. There’s also an API in the development ecosystem which will allow apps to modify their own priority under certain circumstances. I don’t have a lot more detail on these functions/features yet, but wanted you to know they have been announced.
Return of FirstNet Authority and More. Sounds like a strange title until you realize that once the contract was awarded to AT&T to build and maintain the network, those in the field deploying the FirstNet network kept up the pace while the organization’s management seemed to disappear into obscurity. However, at the FirstNet Authority board of directors’ meetings last week, the acting CEO and the board developed a plan to move forward proactively in many new and positive ways.
Ed Parkinson, acting CEO and long-time public safety supporter, has done a great job putting together this plan and the board has responded in a positive way. There have been several times when the FirstNet Authority has been slowed by circumstances not under its control. The first incidence, in late 2013, slowed progress by almost a full year. In the latest case, there was not a CEO or President to drive it forward and the board of directors was short a few members. Now we have a full board and, from what I have seen, an acting CEO with a vision of where The FirstNet Authority needs to go, how to help continue building out the network, and identifying additional pieces and parts that make sense.
Instead of The FirstNet Authority management simply watching over the contract vendor, the new plan is to include the public safety community as more of a partner in this private/public partnership. Edward Horowitz, chairman of the FirstNet board, is quoted as saying at the meeting, “As we strive to fully realize the promise of FirstNet, we are engaging with public safety to chart a path forward for the network. Using their feedback, our Roadmap will advance the network and guide our investments over the next several years and beyond.” Read the Entire Column Here . Continue reading
Drive Tests, IWCE, and Palmyra Atoll. After a two-week interruption in my scheduled Advocates, this one will hopefully serve to get back on schedule and to convey what we have been doing and why. First up is that Michael Britt and I drove to a number of areas in southern Arizona, then into California, and finally to Las Vegas and back to Phoenix. We were drive testing using the Sierra Wireless MG90 installed in my car to measure FirstNet and Verizon coverage along this route. The results and some of the maps that were generated are discussed below. Next came the IWCE Conference, once again well done. This year we decided to begin offering our “best of show” selections, also listed below.
One day after returning home, Linda and I left for Hawaii, where she stayed in Honolulu for the week I flew down to the Palmyra Atoll, about 1,000 miles and worlds away from Hawaii. This Atoll was used during WWII as a gun emplacement but is now jointly owned by the federal government and a non-profit preservation organization. The Atoll is being returned to its original state, which means eradicating thousands of coconut palm trees and other non-indigenous foliage. Our task is to review and recommend replacement of their older communications systems with a new Atoll-wide Land Mobile Radio (LMR) system, new marine and aviation radio equipment, some newer radar, and other items.
While the Palmyra Atoll is an unincorporated U.S. Territory, FirstNet will not build there. The average population on the island is about eight people, swelling to twenty-four, and falling to as low as four, depending on the time of year. I took my Sonim XP8 since I was told the Atoll is not gentle with electronics because of the rain (144 inches a year) and very high humidity. While there is no cell coverage on the Atoll, there is some WiFi and an older satellite service. Using ESChat PTT (Push-To-Talk), I was able to communicate with several people on the mainland. The XP8 came through the test of the weather and humidity perfectly. Planning a new communications system will be a real challenge but rewarding.
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) board today approved principles for reinvesting in the nationwide public safety broadband network being built by AT&T, Inc., and officials detailed plans to develop a road map to ensure continued enhancement of the system, including through the FirstNet investments. Also today, FirstNet signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) committing to collaborate on innovations dealing with rural emergency medical care and response and mobile broadband used by rural first responders in the state and nationwide.
“This is the only nationwide broadband network that public safety has a voice in. From the earliest consultation days through the launch of the network, public safety has been and will continue to be at the center of everything we do,” FirstNet Board Chairman Edward Horowitz said in a news release. “As we strive to fully realize the promise of FirstNet, we are engaging with public safety to chart a path forward for the network. Using their feedback, our Roadmap will advance the network and guide our investments over the next several years and beyond.”
At a joint meeting of the board and its four committees today in Jackson, Miss., the board adopted a resolution stating the investment principles. It says that investments must (1) “[b]e derived from and benefit public safety”; (2) “maintain and advance the foundation of the Network”; (3) “[c]onsider a balanced approach and provide value to public safety”; and (4) “[b]e fiscally responsible and reflect strong financial management[.]”
A slide used at today’s meeting said the first principle stresses that FirstNet “investments must clearly be informed by public safety and support our strategic objectives and Roadmap domains. We will directly engage public safety to capture their priorities, inputs and data to inform future improvements to the Network[.]”
Federal agency board members proposed and advanced these principles, said Robert (Tip) Osterthaler, chairman of the Finance Committee. “The purpose of these is to inform and guide investment decision-making,” he said. “It’s a great addition to the governance process.”
Ron Hewitt, assistant director-emergency communications for the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency who represents DHS on the FirstNet board, said the investment principles will help ensure that the board meets its fiduciary duties.
Acting FirstNet Chief Executive Officer Ed Parkinson said that following the FirstNet board’s next meeting in June, FirstNet executives will bring investment ideas to the board. He stressed that FirstNet will consider input from the public safety community.
An earlier FirstNet road map focused on the issuance of a request for proposals (RFP) and an award of a contract to construct the nationwide public safety network. The new road map “will guide advancement of the Network by depicting a 2-to-5-year view of public safety operational needs, technology trends, and actionable opportunities,” according to a slide used at today’s meeting.
“To develop the Roadmap, the FirstNet Authority is engaging with the public safety community in various forums to capture their feedback on how broadband technology can serve their operational needs,” a news release said. “The Roadmap will incorporate industry trends through market research and outreach to the private sector, academia, and industry associations. This work will also enhance industry’s understanding of public safety’s communications needs. The FirstNet Authority will refresh the Roadmap to ensure it continuously accounts for public safety’s operational needs and industry trends.”
When FirstNet engages in discussions with first responders at forums and meetings or one-on-one, it will discuss these five topics: coverage and capacity, situational awareness, voice communications, secure information exchange, and user experience, according to David Buchanan, FirstNet’s executive director-public safety advocacy, and Jeremy Zollo, FirstNet’s director-Enterprise Strategy Division.
As the road map is developed, “public safety will continue to be in the driver’s seat,” said Jeff Bratcher, FirstNet’s chief technology and operations officer. The road map is designed to implement the FirstNet 2.0 strategic plan governing its actions through 2022. Continue reading
Jumping the Gun, Unanswered Questions. Note: Because I will be out of the office on Thursday, the usual publication day for the Advocate, this issue is being sent to our subscribers a day early.
We hope to see you all next week at IWCE! I have been watching the press releases for information important to the public safety community. In doing so, I have noticed that especially right before large communications shows, some vendors and organizations jump the gun with their press releases. Some make it sound as though the product they are promoting is ready for prime time when it may or not have been certified. Other press releases are sent out before all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.
Generally, there appear to be two reasons for these early announcements. The first is that the vendor or organization wants to appear to be ahead of others. The other is simply because the marketing people have not been properly briefed by those involved in the design and product scheduling. So, when you see a new press release that discusses a new and revolutionary item or event, it is better to wait until the product itself is available or being shown rather than a mockup.
The Mobile World Congress is also this week. This event is a good place to find products that are not ready for prime time or don’t live up to the hype provided in their press releases. I have read about a new ruggedized “shell” with a built-in Push-To-Talk (PTT) button for iPhones, using a Bluetooth interface, for at least two different PTT services. I am wondering if this shell will be shown at IWCE so we can take a look at it. Read the Entire Column Here
Here are the articles I have selected with the help of Discovery Patterns artificial intelligence. Continue reading
Joining FirstNet. For the last year I have been receiving enquiries from readers and others about what is required to join FirstNet (Built with AT&T) and why an agency should join this network when it already has a contract with another broadband network. This is a fair question, especially when another network claims to be as good as FirstNet.
Let’s look at the reasons to join FirstNet. At the top of the list is the purpose for which the network was envisioned and then became the law of the land: to provide a nationwide broadband network dedicated solely to public safety agencies and personnel. From its inception, FirstNet was not intended to replace Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems now or well into the future. It was designed to provide interoperability between agencies with different LMR systems and resolve the issues encountered when coordinating with other agencies on different portions of the LMR spectrum. Think of FirstNet as the common network that augments all existing LMR networks used for Push-To-Talk (PTT) voice with the inclusion of data and video.
Next, unlike commercial networks, FirstNet was designed from day one to be the most secure wireless network possible. It was mandatory that it meet all the stringent requirements for the medical community as well as law enforcement and the federal government rules when it comes to obtaining or sharing data. It also needed to be as secure as possible to prevent hacking or the introduction of malware or other viruses. This security was to be designed in and built in prior to the network’s launch and those charged with building and running the network had to agree on both having a separate and private core or central heart of the network and monitoring and updating the network on a full-time basis.
Read the Entire Post Here.
Here are the articles I have selected with the help of Discovery Patterns artificial intelligence
Spreading the Word. It’s Valentine’s Day! I hope it is a good one for all of you. Last week’s Advocate drew many good comments about the lack of press coverage of FirstNet. It appears as though this lack of news stories in local media has been noticed by others and that this will be changing sooner rather than later. So, I thought perhaps I would take a crack at writing an article for local news outlets including newspapers and perhaps even as a story of interest for local TV news shows.
To write an article in a newspaper that people want to read, it must start off with a catchy headline and the first paragraph must be a real grabber to hook people so they will want to read the entire article. Then, of course, is the old adage of tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. I learned the angles of newsprint journalism over the years of writing a newsletter for Forbes on Wireless Communications where I was coached by the best in the industry, and during thirty years of publishing variously titled thirty-six-page newsletters every month. However, writing for a news outlet where readers are not experienced in anything wireless besides their own cell phones and writing for an audience that is wireless-literate are completely different things. With that said, I will now take a crack at an article for a news outlet.
Public Safety Has New Partner to Fight Crime, Save Lives
We all use cell phones. We talk, text, and send pictures and videos to others with them, check the news, and stream movies. Cell phones are a way of life, delivering three or more means for conveying information to others. Meanwhile, the public safety community, using “Land Mobile Radio,” has had only voice to communicate with those in the field. Yes, they can and do use their own or agency-supplied cell phones when needed. However, during large events and major incidents, public safety had not been guaranteed access to networks congested with citizen’s calls. Read the Entire Post Here Continue reading