Guest Blog Post by Chief Harlin R. McEwen, Chairman, Public Safety Advisory Committee
The FirstNet Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) is made up of 42 representatives from public safety and local, state, territory and tribal organizations. The PSAC offers guidance, information, and public safety expertise to FirstNet staff and the Board to ensure that user needs and public safety operational capabilities are included in the nationwide public safety broadband network. Established in 2013, PSAC members volunteer our time to assist FirstNet and assure that public safety’s voice is heard in the development of the network.
In the coming year, I believe the PSAC will continue to play a substantial role in working through key implementation issues such as Local Control and Identity, Credential and Access Management (ICAM). FirstNet and the PSAC have worked to establish task teams for each of these areas, and they kicked off their work last week. Barry Fraser who represents National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors is chairing the Local Control Task Team, and Chris Lombard who represents the Interagency Board chairing the ICAM Task Team. More information is provided below on the scope of the teams’ work:
- Local Control: FirstNet’s goals for the task team are to further define and refine the operational requirements of FirstNet’s local control application. In addition, FirstNet is particularly interested in the PSAC’s advice for developing governance of the use of quality of service, priority and preemption (QPP) by public safety and sharing such governance with the user community.
- ICAM: ICAM is a critical enabler for facilitating mutual aid and assisting first responders in accessing necessary data to effectively perform their duties. FirstNet’s goals for this task team are to understand some of the issues that public safety agencies experience today due to the lack of an inter-operational ICAM solution; document initial governance rules for ICAM use in public safety; establish a framework for onboarding agencies into the use of federated identity; and examine potential working ICAM solutions. Further, as FirstNet begins to explore ICAM-enabling technologies to undercover potential risks or roadblocks, we want to ensure that we incorporate the PSAC recommendations into these efforts.
FirstNet has asked the PSAC task teams to submit their findings later this year. In addition to focusing on these two areas, FirstNet has requested the PSAC to coordinate efforts with the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Program research and development project.
Most recently the PSAC advised FirstNet in the areas of Priority and Preemption (P&P), Public-Safety Grade (PSG), and User Equipment (UE). Below I’ve included a brief overview of the Committee’s findings, which were discussed at the FirstNet Committee and Board meetings in early December:
- Priority and Preemption (P&P): Having the reliability to provide public safety officials and first responders priority and preemption over other network users is essential to the success of the FirstNet network. The PSAC defined basic P&P usage patterns; reviewed case studies of actual incidents; and identified user types to develop recommendations on an initial prioritization framework.
- Public Safety Grade (PSG): The PSAC identified 19 critical asset layers and developed a methodology for prioritizing each of these layers in the event of a disaster.
- Band 14 User Equipment (UE) needs: The PSAC produced findings on public safety grade user equipment, including functional objectives and ergonomic considerations. Within this task we provided feedback on topics including vehicular network systems, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) considerations, mobile security and voice/virtual assistants.
I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the PSAC members for their time and unique perspectives as subject matter experts. There is much work to be done in the coming year, and I look forward to the Committee’s work and our engagement with the FirstNet staff and Board.