Firefighters, law enforcement and emergency medical personnel are often required to quickly make potentially life-saving decisions in the field, despite the challenges of rugged terrain and natural and man-made disasters. Public safety personnel need the ability to quickly communicate with each other, access online resources (via a PC or mobile device), connect to networks, and quickly transfer important video and data files during emergencies. Broadband can help make that happen by enabling informed decisions for first responders and allowing communication between public safety personnel at all times without delay. This could greatly reduce loss of life and property.
Broadband Benefits Public Safety
INFORMED DECISIONS: With access to broadband, firefighters can arrive on scene with up-todate maps, building plans and utility information. And broadband could make this information available to any first-responders from any jurisdictions. Critically injured people can be treated more effectively in the field with rapid and robust data transmission of medical records that would be shared with the hospital as the patient was en route.
INSTANT ACCESS: Broadband also puts information instantly in the hands of law enforcement, including photos and fingerprints of suspects, and allows monitoring of both police and suspects in high-risk situations. Broadband can also enable more timely assistance from citizens who can quickly send text, photos or video from mobile devices to law enforcement.
MORE INFORMATION, MORE SOURCES: Law enforcement must constantly access multiple large databases such as Department of Licensing, Department of Corrections and local jails. Broadband-enabled searches are faster, putting important information at the scene in a timely manner. And in some circumstances broadband can be an effective communication tool when traditional tools such as radios or cell phones don’t work.
What is Needed to Bring Broadband to Public Safety?
In addition to broadband, public safety also needs to look at several other factors. Do they have the right technological tools to leverage broadband, do existing processes and procedures permit use of broadband, and are existing personnel trained to use such technologies? The Utah Broadband Project can provide education, awareness, and facilitate broadband opportunities for public safety. But, we also need to understand how public safety would like to use broadband, and the barriers and challenges you face to integrate it into your public services.
Federal Communication Commission (FCC) National Broadband Plan
The FCC’s National Broadband Plan includes a set of ambitious goals and aspirations for broadband and our public safety sector. And, it is just the starting point for conversations that will be held in this state and across the nation about the best way to deliver and use broadband. The Plan’s recommendations include:
- Create a Nationwide Interoperable Public Safety Wireless Broadband Communications Network. The U.S. needs a nationwide public safety wireless broadband network that allows all first responders to communicate with one another at all times and without delay. A three-pronged approach will allow the speedy deployment, operation, and continued evolution of such a network. The three prongs are:
- an administrative system to ensure that public safety users of broadband spectrum have the capacity and service they require for their network
- an emergency response interoperability center to ensure that first responders can communicate with one another
- a grant program to help fund the construction, operation and evolution of the public safety broadband network
- Improve Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Survivability. Additional safeguards may be necessary to protect our nation’s commercial communications infrastructure from cyber attack and ensure it is resilient and reliable. The FCC should create a cybersecurity roadmap, extend data collection efforts to broadband service providers and establish voluntary incentives to improve cybersecurity.
- Leveraging Broadband Technologies to Enhance Emergency Communications to and from the Public. The nation’s 9-1-1 emergency call system and the emergency alert systems are critical to ensure that people can reach emergency responders and receive important information concerning emergencies. It is vital that Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) and Next Generation Emergency Alerting technologies are deployed in the near future. Providing sufficient funding to support deployment of NG911 and removing regulatory barriers to its deployment should ensure that NG911 is made available across the country.