Tuesday, March 13, 2012

First Responder Network Coming

As the result of the new legislation “The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012” signed into law on February 22, 2012, a new “First Responder Network Authority” (FirstNet) has been created within NTIA. The plan is to build a broadband network for police, firefighters, emergency medical service professionals, and other public safety officials.

NIST is also involved as the agency will be supporting research for the advanced wireless communications system. The Act allocates up to $300 million to NIST dependent on the funds received from future spectrum auctions.

Too often in critical communication situations, the data exchange between law enforcement and public safety agencies is hampered by equipment incompatibilities and lack of standards. NIST intends to use a combination of in-house research, competitive grants, and transfers to other federal agencies to:

• Document public safety requirements and drive the adoption of those requirements into appropriate standards
• Develop the capability for communications between currently deployed public safety narrow band systems and the future nationwide broadband network
• Establish a roadmap to capture and address public safety’s needs beyond what can be provided by the current generation of broadband technology and work towards technological progress in that direction

Go to www.nist.gov/oles/public_safety.cfm for more information on public safety communications research.