By Amanda Hilliard, Director of Outreach
On February 26, FirstNet held its quarterly webinar with the state and territory Single Points of Contact (SPOCs). The User Advocacy team looks forward to these webinars as an additional opportunity to bring state and territory representatives together with our staff to share information and answer questions directly.
This webinar focused on four major areas, although we covered a lot of ground in general: 1. Recap of the Southeast Public Safety Broadband Summit; 2. Update on FirstNet’s RFP; 3. Consultation Task Teams; and 4. the spring in-person SPOC Meeting.
After introducing the topics, I turned it over to Chuck Murph, Alabama Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), who reviewed the key discussion points from the Southeast Public Safety Broadband Summit held in mid-January. Chuck discussed how the meeting came together out of a need to coordinate with neighboring states on important public safety issues – including those impacting FirstNet. Discussion topics at the regional gathering included southeastern tribal engagement, rural broadband, and Next Generation 9-1-1.
The webinar then moved on to the topic of the FirstNet RFP, and James Mitchell, Director of Program Management, discussed why FirstNet pursued an objectives-based approach to the RFP, rather than issuing a series of requirements like most government procurements. The motivation, he said, was to inspire innovation and flexibility rather than prescribe the build-out of the nationwide network. He also discussed how FirstNet is focused on a best value objective for the RFP and plans to award a single, nationwide contract for the partnership to build the network later this year. It was noted that the overwhelming feedback we’ve received thus far has been positive, with many within public safety seeing the partnership model as a win-win-win for industry, public safety, and FirstNet.
FirstNet received over 400 questions related to the RFP, the majority of which were administrative or technical in nature. This included questions about deadlines and page counts - all of which are to be expected. James noted that both the nature of the questions and the number indicate that FirstNet released a clear, comprehensive RFP that is focused on results.
In terms of next steps, FirstNet will hold a Pre-Proposal conference on March 10th, and proposals are due May 13th.
Next, the User Advocacy team gave an overview of the consultation program for this year, noting that we plan to conduct consultation in a more targeted, efficient and timely manner. For example, while it took us over a year to consult with 55 states and territories, our first milestone for this year is to connect with all 56 SPOCs within 10 weeks.
We also reviewed a key element of the consultation process – the establishment of Consultation Task Teams (CTT) in each state and territory. The CTT will cover quality of service, priority and preemption (QPP) and enable subject matter experts from each state and territory to inform the network’s QPP policies. FirstNet is looking forward to working with the states and engaging their expertise and experience on these important topics. Some of the questions received from the SPOCs included:
- Will the CTTs be concurrent or linear? At this stage, we are looking for them to be linear.
- Will FirstNet provide resources at the state level? We hope to provide a robust toolkit in order to quickly roll out information to the states at the same time. We will also conduct regional webinars or engagement meetings and offer technical assistance. FirstNet wants to customize our resources to the needs of each individual state and territory, so please reach out to us directly if you would like more information.
- How will the CTT inform FirstNet’s partnership selection? While it won’t inform our partner selection, it will inform deployment of the network once a partner is selected.
Finally, FirstNet’s Spring SPOC Meeting will be held on April 12-13 in McLean, Virginia. FirstNet sent out a draft agenda as well as logistical information to SPOCs following the webinar. We hope that you all find as much value in these meetings as we do, and we look forward to seeing as many SPOCs as possible next month.
In the meantime, we want to thank the SPOCs for their time and participation on these calls.