On February 22, 2012, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Jobs Creation Act was signed into law. This legislation established the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and charged it with creating a Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN).
The premise behind the NPSBN is having available mobile data bandwidth for our nation’s first responders no matter what the situation. Currently, in emergencies the wireless carriers can be overwhelmed and access to cellular voice or data services may become unreliable, if available at all. This concept creates a separate wireless network specifically for the public safety industry, thus ensuring access in the worst of times.
Over the past year there have been important developments that may impact you as first responders, and will certainly impact those who follow in your shoes. As technology continues to play a larger role in how we respond to situations and events, Congress passed important legislation in 2012 to help deliver that technology to the field in a consistent manner nationwide.
How will this affect you in the field? Think about having school security camera feeds available in your patrol car or gas shut off locations and building layouts in your fire trucks or having information about flood plains and all affected critical infrastructure available at any time. Even having the ability to run telemetry and a video feed from your ambulance are elements of this initiative.
All examples are either available or are in development and will become part of normal operations at some point.
FirstNet has initiated outreach to the State of South Dakota and its public safety community to ensure the NPSBN meets the varied needs of South Dakota. South Dakota’s Public Safety Broadband Network (SDPSBN), as it will be called, is similarly conducting outreach and education. In the beginning phases, we will make visits to each community with a first responder agency to discuss the initiative and answer questions.
It is anticipated that if you have not heard of this process or if this is the first time you are hearing of it; you will certainly hear more about this topic throughout 2014 and beyond, both at the state and federal levels
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