So far, seven states have opted in to the FirstNet network. It is my hope that Governor Rick Scott will soon have Florida join them and give the members of the public safety community access to advanced tools available to protect our cities and towns.
FirstNet is the long overdue result of the communications barrier first responders experienced on Sept. 11, 2001. Following the attacks, Congress observed — as we all did — that public safety needed a network dedicated to their communications. This need continues today. For the past 16 years, public safety has continued to face the same communication issues as they did on 9/11.
When a tragedy strikes, public networks are often overworked with the high volume of calls, texts and data from people trying to contact their loved ones or emergency services. This increase of traffic can overwhelm wireless networks and disrupt communications to and from emergency responders. In a worst-case scenario, this could result in a delay in emergency responders receiving important information from other public safety operatives.
FirstNet’s high-speed network will allow public safety responders to send and receive critical voice, text, data and video information during a crisis. It addresses the communications barrier our emergency responders face all too often and gives them a much-needed reliable, interoperable network that is dedicated to their use when they need it. And, public safety officials will be able to avoid bandwidth shortages on consumer wireless networks to more effectively and efficiently coordinate across different agencies and jurisdictions. This network will truly transform public safety communications across the state.