- The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) announced Wednesday plans to develop a roadmap to enhance its network. FirstNet will engage with the public safety community for feedback on the roadmap, and will also incorporate industry trends through market research and outreach to the private sector, academia and industry associations.
- The FirstNet Authority Board also adopted a resolution of investment principles, which state the group's investments must be derived from and benefit public safety; maintain and advance the foundation of the network; consider a balanced approach and provide value to public safety and be fiscally responsible and reflect strong financial management.
- Additionally, FirstNet announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Mississippi Medical Center to collaborate on innovation for emergency medical response in rural areas.
In 2018, FirstNet was mainly focused on driving public safety agencies to sign up for its dedicated first-responder technology, and it appeared to be successful. In January, it reported a 60% jump in subscribers — 425,000 across 5,250 public safety agencies — showing that after its launch last March, the network seemingly went from strength to strength. Meanwhile, officials promise that its technology will continue to evolve and add new features, all with the aim of making it easier for public safety agencies to do their jobs, with a new experience program set to introduce first responders to that technology through hands-on educational experiences.
The FirstNet board's series of investment principles will guide its investments based on the new roadmap, including a promise to ensure they are providing value to public safety officials. Having approved its first ever self-funded budget last year, FirstNet will now be more confident in managing finances, especially when working with rural agencies that are often at the most risk of being left behind when new innovations come online.
Despite clinching contracts in all 50 states just 16 months ago, the authority has already had a major impact in dealing with natural disasters, deadly shootings and wildfires across the country. With this vision for its future set to be shaped by public safety agencies themselves, this should be another big step forward, especially as more and more first responders join FirstNet and start to experience it for themselves.