This blog was originally posted on Commerce.gov.
By TJ Kennedy, FirstNet Acting Executive Director
Partnerships. Plans. People. These are the essential components for success in both public and private sector organizations. At the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), we realize this, and continue to focus on these key areas as part of our mission to ensure the deployment of a Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN).
The Partnerships. The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 established FirstNet and directed it to consult with various individuals, jurisdictions, and entities – including federal, state, tribal and local public safety entities – to ensure the building of the NPSBN. Congress wisely recognized that this monumental undertaking requires the input of and coordination with our future stakeholders and users of the network –our nation’s firefighters, EMS providers, law enforcement officers, and other public safety personnel.
FirstNet has implemented a number of mechanisms to ensure that we are working with the public safety community and getting its feedback on the network. One such effort includes the leveraging of the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) to engage in a dialogue with its membership on important network planning and deployment issues. FirstNet will focus this year on working with the PSAC in four key areas – early builder lessons learned, tribal engagement strategies, priority and pre-emption, and public safety-grade service.
The state consultation process is another major achievement with regard to partnering with the public safety community. Last year, our consultation staff worked closely with public safety officials in eight states and Puerto Rico, gathering crucial information we intend to use in the deployment of our services to public safety. The consultation process is being coordinated through the state-designated single points of contact to ensure that FirstNet obtains key information from regional, state, tribal and local jurisdictions in all 56 states and territories and understands their unique requirements for the network.
Additionally, the FirstNet Board and staff participated in more than 100 engagements in fiscal year 2014 that connected us to thousands of stakeholders around the nation. FirstNet will continue to expand our nationwide outreach and consultation efforts in 2015.
The Plans: In March 2014, the FirstNet Board approved a strategic program roadmap to guide our efforts to coordinate with public safety and plan for the network. Key roadmap milestones included a Request for Information, a Public Notice, and the state consultation process. These key roadmap activities will help inform FirstNet’s development of future plans for how to deploy the network in each state and territory.
The People: As with any agency or private sector organization, success starts with your people. At FirstNet, we have grown from having a handful of employees on staff at the beginning of 2014 to more than 120 full-time employees and contractors with significant public safety, communications, financial, and managerial experience.
We are not done building the staff. As FirstNet’s Acting Executive Director, I am fully committed to making FirstNet the most efficient and effective organization it can be. To that end, we are looking to add skilled, dedicated, and motivated people to our team who are passionate about the public safety mission and are committed to making FirstNet a success. We want everybody who comes to work at FirstNet to be focused on the mission at hand and understand the unique challenges faced by public safety.
Further, we have also established the following set of strategic goals for the organization that accents the importance of partnerships, plans, and people:
- Ensure the acquisition, building, deployment, and operation of a reliable, interoperable nation-wide Long Term Evolution (LTE) broadband network for public safety as required by the act.
- Explore and build strong partnerships with local, state, tribal and federal public safety agencies by leveraging consultation and communication opportunities.
- Establish an entrepreneurial culture of innovation by recruiting, hiring and retaining high performance employees motivated to accomplish FirstNet’s mission while meeting public safety’s needs.
- Utilize financial best practices and measures to ensure fiscal responsibility while accomplishing FirstNet’s mission and demonstrate leadership towards self-sustainability to all external stakeholders.
Last year was a year of great progress for FirstNet. We have laid the foundation for our organization to deliver a nationwide broadband network to the public safety community and are poised for continued growth and success in 2015 and beyond.