By Richard Mirgon, Public Safety Consultant
First and foremost I personally want to thank and congratulate all the people at FirstNet, AT&T, State Staff and all the people that worked on Opt-In. Most people will never know how much work it took or all those that were involved to get us to this point. I have been very fortunate to have had a front row seat so I can tell you it is a cast of hundreds. One group that must not get overlooked are all the Fire, Law Enforcement, EMS, Communication Center Staff, Associations and FirstNet Staff at the State and local level who worked so hard to get the Governors to understand what FirstNet is and how important it is to these first responders across the country. Every one of you have played a role in changing Public Safety Technology forever and you should be proud to say “you were there”.
In a much broader sense, 2017 has been a year of major accomplishments. We have seen a lot of good debate by companies such as Rivada that in the end had value. In my view the court action reaffirmed the decision of the Federal Selection Committee in choosing AT&T. We saw many states issue and evaluate RFP’s for alternative RAN buildout solutions with the end result being Opt-In. One of the many reasons this is important is that this represents a number of different approaches by states to collect information and evaluate it, all coming to the same conclusion.
The other good news is that all the different disciplines of public safety worked together at state and national levels once again proving how much influence public safety has when working together. All too often one discipline will go it alone on a public safety issue only to come up short of the desired outcome. Unity on issues is important to who we are as Public Safety. We should not be afraid to reach out to our brothers and sisters in the different disciplines to help solve an issue. Standing together is never wrong and is always powerful.
This milestone for FirstNet, the network, the provider and the users is just that, a milestone. Responsibility now shifts to user adoption and building the network. AT&T must now prove to each and every user agency across the states and territories it can deliver. The magnitude of enabling services on the network is no small task. The development of applications and the app store will take hundreds of people and thousands of staff hours. Building sites, configuring devices and turning on service at this level are all major tasks.
There is one other element that is absolutely critical to the success of FirstNet and that is user engagement. Public safety must be engaged with the FirstNet Authority and AT&T FirstNet. Public safety must participate in showing what the needs are, in providing feedback on services, reporting problems on the network, helping devise manufactures design equipment and helping application developers build the right apps. FirstNet will be at its best when you the first responders engage.
Finally, let me once again sum this up as to what it means to all of us. As Vice President Joe Bidden said during a meeting on the legislation “This is a BIG DEAL”. Everything that has happened and everything everyone has done has been about one thing. Saving lives. It might be the life of the first responder because the technology protected them by providing information. It may be the life of a citizen because first responders had better information, had the information sooner or were able to make a quicker decision because of the technology. In the end FirstNet will saves lives and all of you have been a part of it. We stood together as Public Safety with our Partners at FirstNet and AT&T and we changed the world, forever!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this company or any company with whom the author may be associated.
Richard Mirgon is a Public Safety consultant focused on FirstNet. He is a Past President of APCO International and has over 35 years of public safety and first responder experience. For more information about the author please go to http://www.next-paradigm.com/about/