Execute, Engage, Communicate, Collaborate

June 3, 2014
FirstNet Chairwoman Sue Swenson speaks at the 2014 PSCR Conference
FirstNet Chairwoman Sue Swenson speaks at the 2014 PSCR Conference

Prepared Remarks of Chairwoman Sue Swenson

Welcome everyone to this year's PSCR Conference. The agenda has some very interesting topics that I'm sure will be result in some very good discussion. Of particular interest to me is the session on Priority, Pre-emption and Quality of Service. As noted in yesterday's PSAC meeting, this is a critically important area for us and we still have lots to learn about it. In addition to a great agenda and speakers, it will be a good opportunity for all of us to reconnect. Last year was my first PSCR conference and it's great to see lots of familiar faces this time.

What a year this has been. I'm sure you all have been busy and I can assure you that FirstNet has been busy as well.

While many things have been accomplished since last June I'd like to highlight just a few:

• We continued to build the FirstNet Team and now have our key leadership in place as well as may other key team members. Right now we are 90 strong at FirstNet.
• We continued our Outreach efforts and are currently getting ready for our first State consultations.
• We launched our own website to enable more effective communications with all of you.
• We've conducted several quarterly SPOC Webinars - again to update state key contacts with the latest information on FirstNet and provide a forum for two way dialog.
• We've conducted quite a bit of market research to enable us to understand how key vendors view the opportunity and educating us on their key capabilities.
• And very importantly we completed a strategic road map that clearly lays out what we need to do over the next several years.

While we've done some really good things I think we missed the mark on a few:

• We hadn't made it very clear how interested parties should engage with us. I personally received numerous calls indicating that we were sending mixed messages to this very important community depending on who they were talking with at the time. We got them all sorted out but we clearly could have done a better job there.
• The transition with our contractor staff left a gap in key resources for several months. Clearly we could have anticipated that transition better and not lost valuable time in the work we need to do.
• And lastly we probably didn't make it crystal clear that we really know whose network this is. Obviously it is Public Safety's network and we at FirstNet have been given the opportunity and privilege to work with the Public Safety Community to make it a reality. I believe that this misunderstanding is just semantics but I wanted to clarify that if it's still an issue in some of your minds.

I'm pleased however to let you know that I believe we've gained momentum over the past six months and we are entering another phase of FirstNet with a clear plan to get us to a business plan that will enable us to know how this network will become a reality Looking ahead we have some key things we need to accomplish. I tend to keep things fairly simple so I can remember them myself so let me share with you how I think about them.

I've put our key focus areas in to 4 buckets:
1. Execute
2. Engage
3. Communicate
4. Collaborate

Or even easier ... E squared and C squared.

So let me start with execution. We developed a comprehensive strategic roadmap and we’re following that roadmap as planned. Having the road map keeps us all focused on what's important and enables us to work with other groups on the clear priorities. The ambiguity which once existed is now gone and everyone understands the path. As I like to say, if you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there ...

And it's probably worth mentioning here that the strategy for FirstNet must be a sustainable plan that leverages the strengths of different options before us. In the early days of FirstNet I think a lot of different options were being thrown around, both by FirstNet and others in the Public Safety Community. One thing is clear - the economics of FirstNet are critically important to its sustainable success and must be front and center as we determine the right business plan. This may mean that we will need to consider options that may not have been part of our original thinking and be more open to ideas.

I also believe that having a strategy is only as good as the people who need to execute it. So having the right people at FirstNet is critically important to its success. Let me be more specific here and repeat what we've said over the last couple of days. FirstNet needs people who are good at what they do and want to work in an environment that is fast paced and intellectually very challenging. We need people who are willing to work whatever hours it takes to get the job done; people who take initiative and don't wait to be told; people who ask for forgiveness and not permission. So all of you could help us a lot that if you know people who are interested in joining the team, please let them know what we're looking for. This is not a 9-5 job and not just another government project. Help us get the right people on the team. The ability to execute well depends on it.

Let me move on to Engage. I want you to know that we need your engagement and the engagement of many who are not even in this room today.

We also want to engage with those of you in the vendor community. As I've already mentioned I don't think we've done a spectacularly good job of that to date. We recently put some information on our website on how you can engage with us should you choose to do so. This is a new way for us to do this and we're hoping that you find it more workable. If not, I want to hear from you.

And it goes without saying that our work in Outreach and State Consultation is critically important. I believe we are now at a point where the conversations become much more focused on each of the states and territories and this information will be critically important as we look ahead to developing the state plans. We all have a lot to do here over the next year + and true engagement is necessary by all those involved.

The topic of communication is very important to the success of FirstNet. As you know we launched our very own website back in early March. We also have started using social media more extensively. It's early but the feedback from these methods is very positive. As TJ mentioned yesterday we've seen a marked increase in views of our website and every day we get more followers via Twitter. Communication is a real hot button for me both internally as well as externally. My motto is "when in doubt, share it". If someone receives the information and doesn't want it, they can always press delete. Better to do too much than not enough.

Let me finish with Collaboration. We have many opportunities to collaborate with organizations and agencies. In particular I believe we've gotten to a very good place with the Public Safety Advisory Committee.

We had a good session with them yesterday and they are working on some key projects for Public Safety and FirstNet:

• Human Factors - Complete
• Use Cases
• Eligible Users
• Identity Management

We also have opportunities to collaborate with several agencies within the Federal Government. Our relationship with the folks at NTIA and the Department of Commerce are very good. As you may or may not know, the legislation has outlined some very clear responsibilities for NTIA as it relates to FirstNet. We have worked collaboratively with the team in both groups and, as a result, have leveraged their know-how and experience to FirstNet's advantage. As far as I'm concerned ... lt's a great partnership.

And I can tell you that FirstNet has had a long standing relationship with PSCR. As you know, it's always the people in the organization that make or break the relationship. I have had the good fortune of working with Derek and Jeff since the beginning of FirstNet. These guys are the best.

So when we EXECUTE, ENGAGE, COMMUNICATE & COLLABORATE we can collectively make this much needed network a reality.

I could not stand up here without acknowledging the many individuals and groups that have gotten us to where we are today and will help us get to where we need to go in the future. I hope I don't leave anyone out but if I do, I apologize in advance.

1. First, I'd like to acknowledge the terrific leadership from our outgoing Chairman Sam Ginn. Sam, I'm sure, had no idea what he was getting in to ... like many of us. He provided the right guidance to stand up FirstNet and to evolve the Board to a structure that is appropriate for an organization that has an excellent leadership team. He also reminded all of us of the need to be entrepreneurial and innovative and create the right culture for success.
2. I want to thank Harlin McEwen and the entire PSAC, APCO, and the Major Cities Chiefs.
3. I want to thank my fellow Board members for their continued service and dedication.
4. And I want to thank all of you here today as well as other colleagues in the Public Safety Community dedicated to FirstNet's success.

I'd like to close with a few comments my involvement in FirstNet. Fairly frequently I run in to people who think the mission is unquestionable but think I'm absolutely crazy to be involved. Some of you may be thinking the same thing. So let me clear up a few things. I'm here because I was intrigued when I first heard about it back in 2012. Since I was no longer working full time I thought it would be a nice way to take my career experience and apply it to something incredibly worthwhile. As we got started, we clearly did some things that caused some to believe that our intentions were not pure, and, in fact, were not even legal. That was a setback for me and I seriously considered not standing for reappointment last year. But I am not one to walk away from things in which I believe and felt that any missteps that were made early could be remedied and that those in Public Safety would understand the absolute conviction I have to get Public Safety's network built for them. I hope that those of you who may have had doubts about the non Public Safety Board members now understand our commitment to this effort. Make no mistake, I'm not here for fame or fortune. I'm here only because I believe this is something that we have to do, not only for Public Safety's sake but for all the lives we'll be able to save as a result.

I believe our mandate is clear. As I've said before, I believe the debate is over and it's now way past time to put on the same color jerseys and work together to make this vision a reality.

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