DuPage County official expects FirstNet to be invaluable to first responders
Murray J. Snow is fully onboard with the idea of Illinois signing on for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) broadband public safety program.
“The concept is very good,” Snow, director of the DuPage County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, told the DuPage Policy Journal. “We have never had a broadband network for voice and data that is solely dedicated to use by first responders.”
The broadband data option, slated to roll out nationally later this year, is the last recommendation of the 9/11 Commission and is intended to ensure first responders always have full access to cellular bandwidth in their duties. Illinois officials formally opted into the program in December.
“With Gov. (Bruce) Rauner electing to opt in to FirstNet last month, the program is currently in its initial phases in Illinois,” Snow said. “As such, we are working closely with our partners at the Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB) and the four Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in DuPage County to evaluate FirstNet plans and products to determine the best course of implementation within DuPage County.”
Snow said he expects the platform to be invaluable during large scale events or at critical points where communication between public safety officials is vital.
“Cellular services become overloaded and internet-type services can be slowed,” he said. “FirstNet provides first responders with a reliable, secure and interoperable nationwide high network. Voice, data and video can be shared by first responders and emergency managers without concern of network congestion. Critical information will not be delayed.”
Rauner recently detailed more particulars of the public-private partnership between FirstNet and AT&T, which will come at no cost to the state while driving innovation and creating an entire state-of-the-art system of devices, apps and tools for first responders.
“While FirstNet appears to be a great tool for first responders, ultimately it will be up to each municipality and/or public safety agency to determine to what extent they will utilize FirstNet,” Snow added.