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Thunderbird and Whale: First-ever national exercise led by tribal nations tests communications capabilities
Thunderbird and Whale was the first-ever national-level exercise fully planned and executed by tribal nations. Lynda Zambrano, Executive Director of the National Tribal Emergency Management Council, recounts her team’s approach to the exercise and how they maximized resources to benefit tribal communities in the Pacific Northwest.
Remote Work Opens New Possibilities for 9-1-1: The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how dispatchers work from home
One thing the 9-1-1 community learned from the pandemic was the need to plan for alternate ways to work. Rather than be tied to workstations at fixed locations, 9-1-1 telecommunicators need flexibility to remotely take, dispatch, and supervise calls. 9-1-1 leaders looked to technology for a solution. Through FirstNet, the nationwide public-safety broadband network, first responders had access to a secure, reliable connection outside of the ECC.
Local and state public agencies and hundreds of attendees gathered in Sonoma to participate in a full-scale earthquake response exercise hosted by the California National Guard and the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services Fire Rescue Branch. At the response exercise, FirstNet was onsite to ensure that technology ran smoothly and supplied deployable assets like High Power User Equipment, or devices that have a cellular modem enabling users to connect to a cellular network.
During a joint training exercise and demonstration at Military Ocean terminal Sunny Point in North Carolina, federal and local first responders from across the state experienced how FirstNet can connect agencies during emergencies and everyday operations.
In today’s environment, public safety entities track responders’ location using a wide assortment of options, all with varying degrees of accuracy, effectiveness, and automation, from handwritten maps to smartphone applications. Using location-based services to locate individual first responders can be absolutely critical in terms of personnel safety and accountability, improved response times, and enhanced operational effectiveness. This demonstration of Z-Axis for FirstNet was recorded live in downtown Chicago using Response for FirstNet application. Watch to see the information displayed on mobile devices and desktop displays, as well as streaming video from the person being tracked. Learn more about how we plan to drive technology advancements at FirstNet.gov/Roadmap.
Experts at the Boulder FirstNet Lab in Colorado test functions and features of FirstNet to ensure first responders experience the network as designed and expected. For example, using load test tools, researchers can emulate 6,000 devices and demonstrate how priority and preemption work for first responders.
The FirstNet Inject Catalog is a comprehensive searchable tool designed to help emergency planners integrate broadband capabilities into discussion-based (tabletop) and operational (functional and full-scale) exercises. Organizers of the 2019 Central State Communications Exercise, held in Quapaw, Oklahoma, used the Inject Catalog to demonstrate how broadband technologies could enhance operational communications throughout the central states’ region.
A research team from Texas A&M University traveled to Hawaii when the Kilauea volcano erupted in 2018. Using small drones and the FirstNet network, they live-streamed the lava flow to the emergency operations center more than 30 miles away. FirstNet provided the connection and bandwidth needed to share quality footage in real time, enabling first responders to quickly plan and respond to impending dangers.