FirstNet Talks Technology, Outreach at the 2014 PSCR conference

June 4, 2014
FirstNet directors on PSCR panel about outreach, planning and consultation
FirstNet directors on PSCR panel about outreach, planning and consultation

By TJ Kennedy, FirstNet Deputy General Manager

The 5th annual Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Broadband Stakeholder meeting conference kicked off yesterday. Thanks to PSCR for planning this year’s event in conjunction with the June FirstNet Board meeting. The continuity allowed for a sustained dialogue among attendees, and the synergies of planning the two meetings together helped keep travel costs low for all parties.

Our new Chairwoman Sue Swenson opened up the conference by delivering her first keynote speech since becoming the FirstNet Chair. Sue’s remarks provided insight into her vision for FirstNet, as well as her leadership style and core values. Sue emphasized four key elements of success for FirstNet: Execute, Engage, Communicate, and Collaborate, which she also referred to as the “E squared and C squared” approach. We have posted her remarks on the FirstNet website, and I would encouraged everyone to review them:

I had the opportunity to kick off a technical leadership discussion later in the day with my Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Ali Afrashteh and Deputy CTO Jeff Bratcher. Ali provided a comprehensive review of FirstNet’s technical programs and plans. Jeff talked about how FirstNet will be available to provide technical support to five public safety LTE deployments in New Mexico, New Jersey, Texas, Colorado, and California, and will gather lessons learned from these important projects to inform FirstNet’s nationwide deployment efforts.

I also discussed how FirstNet is working closely with PSCR on multiple fronts, including testing and evaluation of key public safety features – priority, preemption, and quality of service – as well as standards and supporting our RFP preparation by focusing on network modeling and simulation. I emphasized how our collective work is critical to building a network that is reliable, operable, as well as sustainable and affordable for public safety users.

Partnering was a key theme of today’s conference sessions. Four members of our management team participated on a panel discussion focused on partnering and planning with the states, territories, tribal nations, and local governments – including Dave Buchanan, FirstNet Director of State Consultation; Rich Reed, FirstNet Director of State Plans; Amanda Hilliard, FirstNet Director of Outreach; and Ed Parkinson, FirstNet Director of Government Affairs.

Dave and Rich provided a detailed overview of the state consultation process and the key steps toward developing a state plan. Amanda covered a number of stakeholder engagement activities, including FirstNet’s extensive outreach to the state Single Points of Contacts (SPOCs). Ed followed by talking about coordinating through the SPOCs to conduct a “bottoms-up” approach to engaging with governors’ offices, elected officials, and homeland security advisors on planning for the network.

They were joined on the panel by representatives from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Emergency Communications (OEC), who provided updates on activities they are coordinating with FirstNet. This includes the Public Safety Advisory Committee and coverage workshops to help states prepare for the FirstNet pre-consultation process. It was great to see Suzanne Spaulding, who is DHS Under Secretary of National Protection and Programs, at the Board meeting earlier in week. In addition to being a member of the FirstNet Board, DHS has been a valuable federal partner for FirstNet on state engagements.

Tomorrow is the last day of the PSCR conference. I am looking forward to a number of agenda items, including a presentation by Customs and Border Protection on merging LMR and LTE Devices. I also plan to check out panels on Local Control; Small Cell Technology; Next Generation Network Priority Services Testing and Evaluation; and more.


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