In times of emergency, first responders rely on public safety communications technologies to mitigate the crisis, protect property and save lives. Carrying out this mission requires effective and interoperable communications among legacy and next-generation technologies, such as NG911, Land Mobile Radio System and FirstNet.
NG911 brings an IP upgrade to the 911 network that will improve emergency number services by creating a faster, more resilient system. Already partially in place in some locations, NG911 allows the public to send digital information through the 911 network. Eventually it will allow digital information to flow directly to first responders. This digital information includes voice, photos, videos and text messages. The new functionality will improve situational awareness for first responders by providing richer information about an emergency. Additionally, NG911 will increase public safety, for example, by allowing the public to text about an emergency when they are unable to call.
Land mobile radio (LMR) is a wireless communications system intended for use by terrestrial users in vehicles (mobiles) or on foot (portables), such as two-way radios in vehicles. LMR is used by first responders such as fire, police and EMS, and companies with large vehicle fleets or numerous field staff. These systems can be independent or connected to other fixed systems such as the public switched telephone network (PSTN) or cellular networks.
FirstNet is a nationwide public safety broadband network with dedicated spectrum for first responders to use advanced communication and collaboration technologies. Created through government legislation, FirstNet aims to guarantee that first-responders have priority access to the network when a disaster strikes. The core of the dedicated 4G wireless network is live and ready for local agencies to begin connecting to it. Conversations are taking place over whether FirstNet should replace or complement LMR, as well as the industry’s role in advancing the national public safety network.
TIA addresses public policy issues surrounding public safety communications in homeland security and natural disasters. This includes advising the government on wireless communications for first responders and other public safety officials. TIA provides information and advice on communications interoperability and integration, as it applies to public safety. It also offers information on standards for digital wireless communications products and systems. It supports government initiatives when appropriate, and advocates efficiency incentives and targeted federal funding for public safety communications.