Maryland Seeks to be First in FirstNet Public Safety Broadband

Battalion Chief Patrick Walsh of Baltimore City’s Fire Department speaks at Maryland’s FirstNet Consultation

Last week, Maryland held the first initial consultation with the US Department of Commerce First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) officials on creating a state plan for the FirstNet national public safety broadband network.  The meeting was held with Maryland officials in Annapolis, MACo was invited to attend as a guest based on our assistance in creating a statewide radio governance board this past legislative session.

Throughout the day-long event, state and local government officials and representatives of FirstNet discussed strategic and technical details of bringing FirstNet to Maryland, with frank and discerning commentary from both sides.  The Governor attended the consultation, and shared with the attendees his interest in Maryland leading implementation of FirstNet, pointing to our established inclusive governance structure as a reason to start the national program here.

The FirstNet program is intended to improve public safety by enhancing data communication by public safety officers. As described by FirstNet,

The FirstNet network will improve citizen and responder safety and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of emergency response through cutting edge broadband communications. Imagine a day when a single communications network can be used to dispatch EMS personnel, a medical helicopter, police officers, and fire personnel from different jurisdictions all at the same time, utilizing voice, video, and data at broadband speeds. Public safety personnel using the FirstNet network will be able to share applications, access databases, and provide better informed responses to incidents through integrated communications.

For more information, see FirstNet.gov and this Fact Sheet for Elected Officials and this summary of Maryland’s consultation for other states from the Maryland Broadband’s Coordinator.

First Net and other public safety technology solutions will be a topic at next week’s MACo Conference. Mutual Aid: County-State-Nation Partnerships in Public Safety Technology, moderated by The Honorable Nicholaus R. Kipke, Minority Leader of the Maryland House of Delegates, will include a discussion of FirstNet by Maryland Broadband Coordinator Lori Romer Stone.

This session will be held on Saturday, August 16, 2014 from 9:30 pm – 11am.

Learn more about MACo’s 2014 Summer Conference:

Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White with questions about Summer Conference.

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