FirstNet: Nationwide secure broadband network + communication tools for first responders

February 10, 2018

We’ve been writing about the progress of FirstNet in our enews since Mar 2014 (and Oct 2014 and Mar 2015). And now that AT&T is the official provider of services for FirstNet, the dedicated communications platform created with first responders for first responders is helping to enable simpler, safer, faster and more collaborative communications.

FirstNet will give the public safety community the 21st-century communication tools it needs to help save lives and keep communities and first responders safe.

As of late-December 2017, all 50 states, 5 U.S. territories and the District of Columbia officially Opted-In to FirstNet, so now FirstNet and AT&T have a clear line of sight to deliver a nationwide platform and communications tools being built for public safety officials.

The foundation of the FirstNet service is a highly reliable highly secure broadband network dedicated to public safety. This is the first time public safety communications will be based on global standards like Global System for Mobile Communications, realize the benefits of economies of scale, and see rapid evolution of advanced communication capabilities, on a network designed for public safety users.

Why is the FirstNet network a necessary and relevant undertaking?

Whether they’re responding to a local emergency or supporting a disaster in another city or state, public safety deserves a network that will be there for them whenever and wherever they need it. This unifying network will allow first responders and other public safety personnel to communicate across different agencies and jurisdictions throughout the country. Given current difficulties in doing this, the FirstNet network will allow public safety entities to better coordinate when jointly responding to human-caused and natural disasters.

Who can subscribe to FirstNet?

Subscribers can include primary user and extended primary users:

  • Primary users are public safety personnel whose primary mission and job is to provide services to the public in the areas of law enforcement, fire suppression and prevention, or emergency medical services.
  • Extended primary users are other entities that provide public safety services, and include individuals, agencies, organizations, non-profit or for-profit companies who are not primary users, but who may be called upon to support public safety personnel with the mitigation, remediation, overhaul, clean-up, restoration, or other such services that are required during the time of incident or post-incident. Extended primary users may be called on a temporary or on-going basis.

How does FirstNet compare to what’s currently available to public safety?

Today:

  • Networks get congested in disasters and emergencies, making it difficult for first responders and other public safety personnel to communicate, coordinate and do their jobs.
  • The public safety community uses more than 10,000 radio networks – which creates difficulty when trying to communicate across agencies or jurisdictions.

With the FirstNet network:

  • First responders and other public safety personnel will access one highly secure, nationwide, interoperable communications network that will support voice, data, text and video communications.
  • Public safety will have dedicated access to this network in times of crisis– their communications needs will come before non-public safety users.
  • FirstNet will also deliver specialized features to further the public safety mission, including priority, preemption and more network capacity; a resilient, hardened connection; and an applications ecosystem with innovative applications and services.
  • Devices connected to the network – such as wearables, drones and vehicles – will relay near real-time information to improve situational awareness and, ultimately, help save lives both of public safety responders on the front lines and the communities they protect. Mike Zeto, general manager of AT&T Smart Cities, sees a unique opportunity to bridge public safety’s capabilities with the Internet of Things (IoT) ~ read more on USFRA.org.

What types of devices will work on FirstNet?

Public safety users have access to an expansive catalog of LTE devices, ranging from purpose-built rugged units to the world’s most popular smart devices and tablets, complemented with a wide range of accessories. FirstNet enables public safety customers to get the priority, coverage, and interoperability they need without sacrificing choice in the devices they require to get the job done. Additionally, FirstNet will establish Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) capabilities to support volunteers and other personnel who use their personal devices for their public safety work if they meet the applicable requirements.

FirstNet rate plans support a wide variety of smartphones, tablets, laptops, modems, and network-ready devices using Android®, Apple® iOS, BlackBerry®, and Windows® Phones.

As of 22-Jan-2018 Mike Poth, First Responder Network Authority CEO announced AT&T launched a brand expressly designed for FirstNet products and services. Having a specialized brand and logo will help public safety identify the FirstNet solution and lifesaving technologies the network offers first responders across our nation.

How will this network withstand natural disasters, such as flooding or hurricanes?

The first line of defense against network impact from natural disasters is a hardened, strengthened network. AT&T builds network infrastructure to meet or exceed national standards and local wind and earthquake load requirements. They have continued to strengthen the network in hurricane-prone areas by:

  • Installing back-up and permanent generators at critical cell sites and switching facilities
  • Locating critical equipment in less vulnerable areas
  • Locating electronics critical to network operations above expected flood levels
  • Protecting physical facilities against flooding

Additionally, AT&T will provide power to the network in case commercial power is lost by adding more generators for use immediately after a storm hits. They will also place switches and generators critical to network operations in upper floors of buildings in case of flooding. AT&T has already elevated key distribution facilities in many low-lying areas and upgraded electronics in many locations, replacing copper wiring with fiber optic cable.

Learn about FirstNet network and services, rate plans, solutions, devices and apps, events and more at www.FirstNet.com.

And visit www.FirstNet.gov to learn about FirstNet’s programs and activities, including its consultation and outreach with public safety, the State Plans process, and how the Board plans to ensure the FirstNet network meets the needs of public safety – every day and in every emergency.

You can also find updates and an RSS feed in the U.S. First Responders Association’s FirstNet group

 

Source: Fedhealth 1Q2018 enews

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CoCoRaHS ~ because every drop counts! (Citizens and schools can help measure precipitation)

December 4, 2017

CoCoRaHS (pronounced KO-ko-rozz) is an acronym for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.

CoCoRaHS is a unique, non-profit, community-based network of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are major sponsors of CoCoRaHS. Other organizations have contributed either financially, and/or with supplies and equipment.

CoCoRaHS has over 20,000 volunteer observers in all 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada and the Bahamas. Of the network’s 333 coordinators, 254 work closely with NOAA.

By using low-cost measurement tools, stressing training and education, and utilizing an interactive website and apps, the aim is to provide the highest quality data for natural resource, education and research applications.

Why is there so much interest in rain, hail and snow?

Precipitation is essential for life. It varies greatly with topography, storm type and season. It really is true  that  it  may  pour  on  one  side  of  the  street and be dry on the other. A portion of a field may be pounded by hail while others nearby receive no damage. Snowfall may pile up in one neighborhood and only dust another. Rain, hail and snow are fairly easy to measure, and the data collected are very important.

Who uses CoCoRaHS?

CoCoRaHS is used by a wide variety of organizations and individuals. The National Weather Service, other meteorologists, hydrologists, emergency managers, city utilities (water supply, water conservation, storm water), insurance adjusters, USDA, engineers, mosquito control, ranchers and farmers, outdoor & recreation interests, teachers, students, and neighbors in the community are just some examples of those who visit their Web site and use the data.

What does a volunteer observer do?

Each time a rain, hail or snow storm crosses your area, volunteers take measurements of precipitation from as many locations as possible. These precipitation reports are then recorded online at www.cocorahs.org or through CoCoRaHS’ app.

The data are then displayed and organized for many of their end users to analyze and apply to daily situations ranging from water resource analysis and severe storm warnings to neighbors comparing how much rain fell in their backyards.

It’s easy to join, takes only five minutes a day and is a fun way to learn about weather.

People of all ages can help. The only requirements are an enthusiasm for watching and reporting weather conditions and a desire to learn more about how weather can affect and impact our lives.

Complimentary training is provided to help you become an effective weather observer. Check out your state page for a list of current training sessions in your local area.  If none are taking place at the current time, CoCoRaHS has online and PDF Training Slideshows.

Can schools participate?

Absolutely! A great benefit of CoCoRaHS is that it provides real science activities for the classroom in public, private, and home schools. Over the last several years CoCoRaHS staff has worked with science teachers to develop a series of lesson plans and activities. These lesson plans are available for a variety of grade levels and are built around CoCoRaHS’s emphasis on measuring precipitation.

Watch and share below short CoCoRaHS for Schools video…

 

CoCoRaHS also has lesson plans and activities developed for the 4-H Program that are aligned with National Science Education Standards (NSES) for grades K-4, 5-8 and 9-12. Visit CoCoRaHS for Schools to learn how your school or program can join.

Help spread the word

Please take a moment to share this post and tell a friend or neighbor about CoCoRaHS exciting grassroots effort of citizens measuring precipitation in their own backyards. Again, it’s easy to join, takes only 5 minutes a day and your observations give scientists an ever clearer picture of where and how much precipitation falls throughout our communities.

Learn more about CoCoRaHS at www.cocorahs.org and follow them on their blog, Facebook and Twitter and get involved!


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