By Amanda Hilliard, FirstNet Director of Outreach
The FirstNet Outreach team took advantage of several opportunities this week to engage with representatives from state and local agencies and elected officials and exchange information with them about FirstNet developments. This includes presentations at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Legislative Summit in Minneapolis; the Nevada Telecommunications Association (NTA) meeting; the League of Arizona Cities and Towns Conference; and at the Phoenix Fire Department.
We also held our monthly regional calls with the states’ Single Points of Contact (SPOC) as part of our ongoing efforts to update the SPOCs and provide them with opportunities to give us feedback and share progress and successes about their FirstNet activities, many of which are primarily focused on outreach now. Overall, we reached more than 165 stakeholders this week through these outreach efforts.
At yesterday’s Arizona Cities and Towns Conference, I participated on a panel called “FirstNet’s Technology Partnerships and the Benefits to Cities and Public Safety” with Michael Britt, who is Arizona’s FirstNet Program Manager, and Scott Somers, City of Mesa Council member and National League of Cities representative to the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), who moderated the panel. Michael provided an overview of the state’s Broadband Planning & Public Safety Communications office and discussed ways Arizona is working to increase statewide awareness, participation, and preparation for the public safety broadband network in the state.
I focused my presentation around the FirstNet mission, the benefits of the network, and key steps in the consultation process and got feedback from the Arizona public safety community on these and other issues. We received helpful suggestions concerning the need for flexibility around network access, especially in rural areas where individuals often serve in multiple roles.
In the afternoon, we headed to the Phoenix Fire Department where we presented to and met with a group of command level public safety personal representing fire, law enforcement, and EMS. Phoenix Fire Captain and PSAC member Mike Worrell attended the meeting and spoke to the group about potential applications that the fire and emergency service could leverage with the public safety broadband network.
Also this week, FirstNet Outreach Coordinator Kristi Wilde participated on a panel at the NTA with Nevada SPOC George Molnar and Oregon SPOC Steve Noel, and FirstNet Association Manager Vicki Lee represented FirstNet at the NCSL legislative summit. The consultation and planning process was a key topic of discussion at all of these events, with participants asking many good questions and providing thoughtful suggestions for how to best plan for consultation in their states.
The FirstNet team will continue to collect feedback and fine tune the consultation process as it matures. In addition to our monthly calls, FirstNet also holds quarterly webinars with the SPOCs, with the next one scheduled for October 1st. Between now and then, we will be busy planning for the FirstNet Board and PSAC executive committee meetings on September 17th and 18th, respectively.
Thanks again to the NTA, NCSL, and the state of Arizona for inviting us to participate in their FirstNet discussions this week. We look forward to hearing from more public safety stakeholders next week during our regional SPOC calls, as well as presentations to the National Association of State Technology Directors (NASTD) Conference and Technology Showcase in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and the National Rural ITS (NRITS) Conference in Branson, Missouri.