When a violent tornado hit northeast Arkansas in March, it caused major destruction to homes, businesses, and a shopping mall, mangling vehicles, damaging an airport, and derailing a train. Despite the wreckage, FirstNet kept first responders connected and communicating throughout the storm and its aftermath.  

For Philip Mann, Public Works Director for the City of Gainesville in Florida, access to FirstNet helps them work more effectively when clearing the way for other responders. Gainesville’s public works use FirstNet on their cell phones and tablets to deploy resources and people, track work orders, and communicate with staff in the field. With these tools in place, they can get their work done more efficiently, and work in partnership with other responders.

As EMS providers expand their use of technology, FirstNet gives them a wireless broadband platform to connect in the field. FirstNet Authority Senior EMS Advisor Brent Williams highlights three EMS agencies using FirstNet to communicate in rural areas, send vital patient information to hospitals, and access the resources to enhance patient care.

This blog post is part of the "Tech Talk" series focused on the FirstNet Authority’s standards development activities to support public safety. This post recaps discussions linked to public safety and other related topics from the 3GPP Plenary meetings that were conducted online March 16-20, 2020. The FirstNet Authority represented public safety interests at the Plenary meetings.

Voice communications are the fundamental form of public safety communications. At the heart of the FirstNet effort is the need for a reliable communications platform that will provide voice, data, and video services for public safety’s lifesaving mission. With the launch of FirstNet, countless first responders gained access to the most advanced broadband emergency communications solution available today, and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) strives to learn from public safety where the network needs to go next.